Dear Friends in Christ,
I am writing to you to update you about what is happening at Christ Church. As you most likely have heard, Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo has announced that in-person worship services will be allowed starting this coming weekend. However, Christ Church will not be holding in-person services this weekend. We need to provide an acceptably safe environment for our parishioners and implementing those assurances will take some time. We will only reopen for in-person services when we can do so safely.
I know we are all anxious to return to in-person services in our beautiful sanctuary, but for many of us, this may not be possible for some time to come. The reality is that COVID-19 remains a real threat to everyone?s health, especially to those of us in high-risk categories (people with pre-existing health conditions and those over 65 years old). We have made our worship services accessible online to everyone at home, so that everyone can fully participate ithout coming to the sanctuary. We encourage you to continue to participate in services from home. As you will read in the following paragraphs, when we are ready, the in-person worship experience will be nearly identical to the online experience, so you will not miss anything if you stay safely at home. If you are having difficulty accessing our online offerings, please call the office for help.
Rest assured that we are working on a plan to resume in-person services at Christ Church. Our COVID 19 Taskforce made up of the wardens, the officers, and additional Vestry and parish members, along with me, is developing this plan for adoption by the Vestry.
The taskforce is following the recommendations of Diocesan, governmental and medical authorities carefully while also getting input and
help from relevant church committees. But my friends, I do want to prepare you for the reality of in-person gatherings when we first start to have them again, including the following points.
- Compliance with state guidelines and recommendations will require us to limit the size of the gathering, and to require mask use, seating according to distancing requirements, no in-person coffee hour, and the like.
- We will not have a choir or congregational singing until a treatment is readily available, or until we have received medical guidance that suggests that singing in an enclosed building will not pass the virus.
- We will continue to offer Spiritual communion as the norm.
- We are unlikely to have more than one in-person service per week.
- There will be no in-person Sunday School, and no nursery care.
- Each in-person service will also be broadcast online.
As we move forward and as the medical and regulatory advice about COVID-19 change, all of these things are subject to change.
In the meantime, let us focus on the beautiful and positive aspects of our ministry at this time:
- Many in our congregation say that they feel much more connected to our church than ever before. We are reaching more people on Sunday mornings than we have ever done on a regular Sunday. People who in the past were not able to physically attend now have access to four live worship services and five live “Food for Thought” programs every week (and can view the recordings at any later time).
- Contributions and financial support to Christ Church have remained steady.
- Our online Sunday School is active and will continue to be in session with our youngest parishioners through the summer, helping our children to learn and find joy in connecting to God.
- We have an active and thriving telephone tree that is engaging our parishioners. Through this ministry we are helping people move from isolation to hope.
- We are being creative and having fun together as a community, through programs like our Wednesday night teaching series, Monday Bible Study via Zoom, and even virtual trivia.
- Our employees have adjusted well to working remotely and will continue to do so while making themselves available to the congregation by phone and online.
The above list is not a complete list of our blessings – in truth, this letter would be too long if we were to list all the God-given blessings of our community. The task of our faith at this moment is to be open, responsive and adaptive to our situation. I promise to you in this time of patience and waiting, I will be forthright and transparent with you. I also promise any decisions we (the Vestry and I) make will be done with prayerful consideration for the mental, spiritual and physical health of our congregation.
With blessings, yours in Christ,
The Reverend Sunil Chandy