Re-Gathering Again on Pentecost
I hope you've all had a chance to watch the brief, 3-minute video (found at https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=871774803308814) announcing our approval to re-gather again for in-person worship with restrictions spelled out in what is being called the "Phase II Plan" for St. Philip's. This plan was developed, following a set of guidelines from the Episcopal Diocese of Texas based on medical research and advice, in conjunction with myself as your Rector; our Senior Warden, Terry Thorn; our Junior Warden, Phillip Morton; and member and local doctor, Dr. Mike Gorby; in conversation with and with approval from our Regional Bishop out of Tyler, Suffragan Bishop Jeff Fisher; and with assistance and guidance from Missioner for Congregational Vitality, The Rev. Amy Cortright. Let me first express gratitude to this group of people!
I want to emphasize that worship will indeed look different for a good deal more time, especially as we wait for a vaccine to be developed for COVID-19. Nonetheless, we will have four worship options available beginning Sunday, May 31st on the Feast of Pentecost:
8 a.m. Holy Eucharist: Rite I in the Church Nave
10:30 a.m. Holy Eucharist: Rite II in the Church Nave
10:30 a.m. Live Video Feed of Holy Eucharist: Rite II in the Parish Hall
10:30 a.m. Continued Facebook Live Stream of Holy Eucharist: Rite II at fb.com/stphilipspalestine (wherever you have an internet connection)
The Church, Parish Hall, and restrooms will be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized prior to each of the services.
A few things to note about Phase II of In-Person Worship:
All attendees will be required to wear a mask, at least fabric reusable grade masks (some extras will be available at entrances to the Church and Parish Hall)
As you arrive please allow at least 6 feet of space between you and those waiting to enter
Upon entering you'll be provided hand sanitizer, a place to leave your contributions to the church (online giving remains an option), the option of having your temperature checked with a touch-less thermometer, and a place to pick up a comprehensive bulletin
We will keep a confidential list of attendees should communication be required due to a COVID-19 case confirmation
Seating has been taped off to appropriately distance, at least 6 feet, families living under the same roof
We'll adopt the more ancient posture of prayer, standing, as you are able
There will be no congregational singing (due to increased aerosol and droplet spread via singing), instead we may have 2 choristers, sufficiently distanced singing hymns/anthems
Remain in place and offer the Peace of Christ at a distance to those around you
I will invite attendees, in sections, to come forward for Communion (host only) in the Church at the foot of the chancel stairs and in the Parish Hall near the entrance
Please take the host with you to your pew/seat and consume the host there
I will dismiss attendees, in sections, following the end of the service, please take some hand sanitizer as you leave and feel free to take your bulletin home or drop it in the bin on your way out
Please move directly to your vehicles as you exit the Church or Parish Hall, there will not be a "receiving line" or "coffee hour"
Remain home if you are sick and if you are exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, please seek out testing immediately
Finally, 60+ year old members and those with compromised immune systems or compromised lung and heart function, should continue to engage in physical distancing as much as possible until a vaccine is available, and effective treatment is available, or there is no longer community transmission. You are encouraged to stay safe and continue worshipping with us online
I do know that this will make for a different kind of worship experience. Please understand that we are following guidelines such as these in order to do our best in loving our neighbor as ourselves, the command our Lord and Savior Jesus gives us.
I look forward to celebrating the Feast of Pentecost with you, however you choose to join us! Don't forget to wear red, a representation of the Holy Spirit, those tongues of fire that rested upon the disciples that glorious day and rest upon us baptized children of God this day!
Faithfully yours in Christ,
Fr. Justin Briggle +, Rector
St. Philip's Episcopal Church