Sunday Outdoor Worship at Winchester Anglican starting 6.6.21
It's time to take one more step...
Throughout the pandemic, here in this church, we have made it our practice to abide as closely as possible to CDC and state recommendations regarding COVID safety protocols. Recently, as you probably know, the CDC announced that it was changing its recommendations for vaccinated people explaining that:
"...fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask or physically distance in any setting except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including business and work place guidance."
Governor Northam also announced last week that he was removing the state's "indoor mask mandate fully vaccinated individuals". In addition he has promised to "end all distancing and capacity restrictions on Friday, May 28th." On Wednesday Night the vestry met (in person, at the new church, without masks for the first time in over a year) to discus these changes. After hours of thoughtful, careful discussion and consideration of all of our parishioners possible needs and perspectives, we have decided to make the following changes to our worship plan and to our COVID precaution requirements for the remaining two Sundays in May and for the Summer:
Our May and Summer worship plan:
1) For the remaining, two Sundays in May, we will continue to meet indoors, at 4pm, at Fellowship Bible Church. Registration and social distancing will no longer be required, and for fully, vaccinated parishioners, masks will be optional for these two services. See below for more detail. If you see parishioners wearing masks, consider giving them some extra space as they may still want to voluntarily distance.
2) Starting Sunday, June 6th, we will return to weekly, outdoor worship at 9:30AM at our new building. Masks and distancing will be optional for these services.
3) Online services will continue to stream each week (but at 9:30AM now) on our church Facebook page, but these will need to be pre-recorded unless we can work out an outdoor streaming solution. Please let us know if you want to help with this.
It's our belief that for now, returning to a morning, outdoor service offers us the greatest opportunity to gather the greatest portion of our church body at one time. And, meeting weekly at our new property will also deepen our connection to this new space and allow us to settle in there:) Our indoor services have thankfully, allowed us to regather, and for this we are grateful. But there are too many of us not coming to church because of the time, the location, and our previous safety protocols. We miss our families and until we can fully restore our children's ministry (which is in process) we think that offering an outdoor service weekly will best serve them and make its easier for most of us to return to worship.
Regarding Changes to our COVID Precautions for Indoor Worship:
1) For fully, vaccinated people, masks will now be optional at all indoor services and gatherings of the church, and registration and social distancing will also no longer be required. This applies to corporate worship, community groups and any other gatherings of the church.
2) For now, we are asking that unvaccinated parishioners please continue to abide by the CDC recommendations for masking. This will eventually change, but for now we are keeping this in place. Many churches are structuring their next step this way and we believe that it's a helpful next step for us. It provides a loving layer of protection and consideration both for our most vulnerable parishioners, and for our young children who do not yet have access to a vaccine.
On Wednesday night, we labored together over every possible version of this plan, talking about how it would affect all of you. Among other issues, we closely considered the needs of our kids and their parents, the feelings of people who will keep masking indoors for the last two weeks in May or beyond (for any of a number of reasons) and we thought a lot about our more vulnerable parishioners who, though vaccinated, may find it initially troubling to worship in a room with unmasked people. And both before, and after our deliberations, we prayed for unity and that while we work though this next season, that the Lord would still grow us together in love for him and one another.
If you have questions or feedback on this plan please email these to Patrick and the wardens here. We are happy to discuss any portion of this with you by phone, zoom, or in person. May the Lord continue to guide us together through this challenging season and into the great future that he has for us!
See you Sunday!
The Vestry of Winchester Anglican Church:
Patrick Ware - Rector
Todd Heidelberger - Senior Warden
Sara Lombardy - Junior Warden
Chuck Murphy - Treasurer
Larry Gale - Asst. Treasurer