As warmer weather approaches, so too do the possibilities for safely and comfortably gathering together outdoors. Over the past month our Regathering Taskforce met to establish, and recommend to vestry, guidance for safely gathering outdoors. These Outdoor Gathering Protocols are now approved and in effect for the foreseeable future. If you or your ministry would like to set up an event, gathering, or offering in person, these protocols will help you in preparing and planning. The Wardens and I will review each proposal/plan and offer any additional guidance necessary so that St. John’s can continue to offer points of in-person connection as safely and inclusively as possible.
As I write this, I can feel in my own body a deep and persistent desire to be with you, in the flesh. This pandemic promises to continue far longer than most of us had initially anticipated and far longer than any of us wanted. I routinely hear from members how painful this time apart from each other, the building, and the sacraments has been. Our guiding value to this point has been that of inclusivity, that we wouldn’t gather in person for worship until it was safe enough for all to gather. It is now unclear whether there will ever be, at least in the near future, a time when vaccines are ubiquitous or herd immunity achieved – i.e. it is unclear when that moment of “safe enough for all” will happen.
In light of this I have asked our worship team to begin exploring ways to begin offering some in person worship, likely only liturgies of word at first, outdoors and with the aforementioned protocols to guide us. Our first in person services will begin in June, in the parking lot, or near the steps of the church, or in the Holly Garden. I also want to make known that if you would like pastoral care, confession, or spiritual counsel “in person” instead of over Zoom or over the phone, I am making myself available for some in-person, distanced, pastoral meetings outdoors in the Holly Garden, Parking Lot, or, if you prefer, on a walk in your neighborhood.
We should begin again now, as we did last summer and weather permitting over the fall and winter, to see each other in person as safely as possible. This has been a long season apart, and as vaccinations increase and infection rates drop, we are finding safe ways to be together. I hope you will reach out if you have questions or concerns. Know that I am praying still with each of you, missing you, and working with our leaders to plan carefully for our eventual return to the building. Thank you, all of you, for your patience, care for one another, and for endeavoring to keep St. John’s a place that welcomes all people.
God bless and keep each of you.