Dear Friends in Christ,
I am grateful to God for your faithful resilience over these past three months as our church has creatively adapted to meet the challenges of the COVID-19 crisis. I write to you today to provide information regarding our first in-person service since the third week of March.
This in-person Rite I Holy Eucharist will begin on Saturday, July 11, at 5 pm. The service will be a traditional said service (no hymns) offering “Spiritual Communion”. Communion (as consecrated bread or wine) will not be distributed to the congregation for this service.
I am grateful for the work of our “Covid-19 Reopening Working Group” led by the clerk of our Vestry, Sarah Starkweather. This committee has painstakingly spent hours in research and conversation to mediate our desire to worship together in person in the community while keeping everyone safe.
In the attached documents to this letter, you will find the fruits of their labor. If you are planning to attend our in-person services, I ask you to please read the attached documents. The first is a diocesan endorsed “Covenant for Re-opening”.
Both the Covid-19 Reopening Taskforce and our Vestry has unanimously agreed to the terms of this agreement. It is a theological understanding, based on our baptismal covenant, for embracing our social distancing guidelines. The second attachment, entitled “Guidelines for Reopening – July 2020”, includes important information regarding our service that will help us safely to adhere to recommended social distance guidelines.
In the coming week, our parish office will send you an invitation to this service, and please respond quickly. As per diocesan and governmental guidelines, we are allowed to have up to 25% participant capacity at the service.
I realize that many in our church have longed to worship together. I also believe many in our church share the understanding that our spiritual practices and worship impact our mental and physical health. But we also can understand that the Covid-19 virus is a complicated health threat to our community, the nation, and the world, and so Christ Church must adapt to both these understandings. Please note that our church will continually evaluate and adapt to new information as it is available to us.
Finally, I encourage our older members as well as those who have underlying health conditions, have any symptoms of the virus, do not feel well or feel anxious about attending in-person services to please stay at home and participate in our array of online worship opportunities. I know that as you engage in these worship experiences your connection and faith with God will only grow stronger.
Yours in Christ,
The Reverend Sunil Chandy
Rector, Christ Church Westerly