During the pandemic, worship across the world has taken on different forms. Holy Cross Episcopal Church adjusted quickly by offering an online Morning Prayer service. After studying the results of a parish survey that went out in June, it is apparent that approximately 50 percent of the congregation is interested in some form of in-person worship.
The vestry took this information and established a committee, led by John Weisz, to determine the most feasible option for a shared in-person worship service, given the resources available at our church. After much planning, the committee determined that a “Both/And” approach was necessary to continue to reach and include as many parishioners as possible. As a result, we are working towards a Morning Prayer service, streamed live to the web from Holy Cross, on Sunday mornings at 8:00. In addition, we plan to hold an outdoor worship on the grounds of the church with Holy Eucharist at 9:30.
While the liturgy, sermon and music will be streamed live at the 8:00 service, we will splice in the readings so that our lay readers who wish to remain at home will still have an opportunity to participate. For those who are interested in watching the service at a later time, it will be recorded and made available online. We ask for your patience as we transition from pre-recorded services to live-streamed. All of our unintentional improvisations will be revealed, the music will not sound as ‘produced’ and we may experience the occasional Internet hiccup.
There is much anticipatory excitement surrounding our outdoor worship service, especially since this will be our first-time celebrating Holy Communion during Covid-19. Our Interim Rector has consulted with theologians and past professors in how to adapt the celebration of Holy Communion while remaining faithful to the liturgical practices of The Episcopal Church. Bread will be consecrated at the altar while the corporate body of the gathered is invited to bring bread from home, which will be consumed during the service after the consecration and the invitation.
No wine will be consecrated supported by the doctrine of concomitance, that one sacramental element may be used to represent both the body and the blood of Christ.
Weather permitting, the outdoor worship service will take place on the right-hand side of the church if you were facing the front door. We picked this area because of its proximity to the building and the shade the trees provide. Many precautions are being taken for our outdoor worship service; however, it’s important to remember that we will be actively learning what else may need to be put in place following each service.
When you arrive, a greeter will point you in the direction of the service. This person will also point out the Bishop and state's guidelines for gathering in person. The notices will be posted on signs. These include:
- Gatherings are limited to 25 persons.
- Wear a mask at all times.
- Using hand sanitizer (Will be made available by Holy Cross).
- Maintain six feet of social distance.
- Stay home if you or someone you have recently been in contact with have experienced symptoms of COVID-19.
- 9ft circles will be painted on the grass to designate seating areas.
- Parishioners should bring their own chairs & other comfort materials (water, umbrellas, etc.).
- Bathrooms will be limited to emergency use only.
- We are striving to develop a service that will not last more than 30 minutes.
- The bulletin will be made available for parishioners to print at home or pull up on their phones.
Due to the limited number of participants we can have at the outdoor worship service, we are asking that you please fill out this survey: https://forms.gle/x8Jh6DFWgZv5ieeH8 if you would like to participate. Depending upon the number of interested participants, we may have to create several groups that participate in this service on alternate weeks. You will be able to make a reservation online or by calling Kaylee Roeben during office hours, which are Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday 10-2, and Sunday 10-1. If the service is over capacity for that week, parishioners will have the option to watch the service online or listen from their car in the parking lot via a radio station.
Holy Cross may at any time modify or cancel the outdoor worship depending upon our resources and the condition of the pandemic. Participating in outdoor worship increases one's risk of exposure to COVID-19. We do not recommend anyone who is classified as high-risk participate in this service. By participating in the outdoor worship service, you acknowledge that you understand the health risks of attending and that your physical presence, which may include direct contact with other people if social distancing guidelines are not adhered to, may increase your risk of exposure to COVID-19 and other illness.
Please abide by all policies and procedures of Holy Cross regarding COVID-19 and other infectious diseases, including those, which require self-reporting and self-quarantine in the event you experience symptoms of illness. All those for whom self-quarantine is not indicated are invited to attend, but all must exercise their own judgment as to whether they should attend. There are risks in attending a public gathering that can be reduced, but cannot be eliminated and those who participate must assume those risks.
We thank you for your ongoing patience and support as we work to create this new worship experience. If you have any questions or comments please do not hesitate to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your faithful servants,
The Rev. Dr. Nancy Lee Jose, Allison Rankin, John Weisz, and Jan Eudy