Bishop Wright announced this morning some loosening of the Covid protocols for worship and use of the church facilities. Here are some of the more pertinent changes:
- We no longer have to consecrate the wafers three days ahead of time, then put them in individual wrappings. Communion will still be bread only, and I will still bring it to you, rather than you coming forward. I’ll still be using the “Eucharistic tongs” to give you the bread, but at least I no longer have to contend with those slippery envelopes we’ve been using.
- The length of time we can be in the building has been extended from 60 minutes to 90 minutes. Sermons can be longer! (Just kidding). We have not been too stringent in observing the 60-minute limit, but this does give us a little more flexibility. There is no time limit on outside gatherings.
- Attendance can be increased to 30 percent capacity, while still observing distancing requirements. This one really doesn’t affect us, but it makes a huge difference to large churches like the Cathedral, All Saints, and St. Luke’s, who have been operating under the 75 person maximum even though they can safely accommodate many more. The same distancing requirements are still in place — six feet between individuals or “pods” of people, and every other pew vacant. We can safely seat 60-65 people with those protocols.
- Food can be eaten together outside. The previous protocols prohibited any offering of food or drink. To celebrate that we will have a parish picnic in the Beech Grove after church on Pentecost, May 23. There are caveats. We can’t share food — ie, no potlucks. Everyone will need to bring their own food. Everyone also will need to bring their own chairs or blankets. Distancing and masking requirements (except when eating or drinking) will still be in place. But we can break bread together at long last.
Here are the things that have not changed:
- Wearing masks is still required of everyone, inside and outside. Distancing requirements are still in place, along with assigned seating. RSVPing is still required (the link is below).
- There is still no singing, other than a soloist. This is probably the thing we are all most anxious to repeal. Hopefully before too much longer we may have the choir back; congregational singing will be the last step. It is likely that singers will be required to use a “singers’ mask.” Never heard of that? Neither had I until yesterday. They are special masks designed by Broadway singers to catch the droplets released into the air while singing. Here’s a link that shows and explains them: https://www.broadwayreliefproject.com/singersmask
- There still will be no processions and no hymnals or prayer books in the pews. And still no passing the peace.
- There is still no nursery or childcare. Hopefully that will be coming soon.
I know that these protocols seem very restrictive, but our goal is to keep everyone safe. Georgia has the third highest Covid death rates in the country, and is the third worst in percentage of people vaccinated (in the low 20s). As a public health official told us in the (Zoom) meeting this morning, that combination makes us a potential breeding ground for new variants of the virus.
We aren’t at normal yet, but we are inching closer. The fastest way for us to get there is to increase the number of people who are vaccinated. If you haven’t been, please do so!
Here is the link to sign up for Sunday’s service: