I trust by now you’ve heard, seen and read about the Governor’s order to reopen the State of Texas in phases that began this past weekend. After much prayer, reading through guidelines, and in consultation with the Bishop, colleagues and staff, we will return to in person services on Sunday, May 17. However, as you discern what is best for you and your household we will continue to livestream for the foreseeable future for those who choose to remain home. The clergy are available to administer Communion by appointment at any time during the week should you desire it.
In order to reopen and to remain open, we need your help in four specific ways:
- Everyone is asked to wear a mask in the building and during worship at all times with the exception of receiving Communion.
- We need cleaning supplies. We have a box outside the parking lot entrance where you may drop off items to help us keep everyone safe and healthy. The main items we need are disinfecting wipes, Lysol spray, liquid soap, and hand sanitizer.
- We need your help sanitizing between services. It is too difficult for your staff to clean between services, and too costly to have a cleaning crew on site on Sundays to clean in real time. So, we are asking those who come to worship to be on a rotating sanitation crew. It will be minimal and take only 10-15 minutes of your time and we have a brief list of cleaning procedures on site to guide you on what is most needful.
- To manage capacity we are assigning you to a service time. You have received an email letting you know your time to attend. If you have not yet responded, please do so in one of several ways ; reply that you are coming, that you are staying home, or that you’d like to come to the other service time. We will do our best to accommodate your requests.
Sunday services will be the only meetings in person for the month of May, per Bishop Reed’s directive. Regular Sunday offerings such as the nursery, Sunday School, and Bible studies will not meet in person. As applicable, we will continue to provide YouTube lessons and Zoom meetings throughout the week. We will reassess at the end of the month concerning ministries meeting on site.
We have also mapped out everything from entry to exit to keep you safe and healthy. I want to walk you through a few things that will look different on Sundays in weeks ahead. Please take a look at the other side of this letter for specific details. You may also see our YouTube Channel for an instructional video (http://www.youtube.com/c/SaintBarnabasAnglicanChurch).
Upon your arrival, the greeters and ushers will be outside to welcome you instead of in the entryways where you normally find them. The entrance doors will either be propped open, or the ushers will open them for you, in order to limit physical contact with the door handles. We ask you to maintain the recommended six feet of distance from others as you arrive and enter the church. Make use of all the entrances, and consider this in your departure time.
As tempting as it will be to congregate, and catch up, please do so outside prior to or after the service instead of in the hallways. I know it will be tough, but do refrain from physical contact outside of your immediate family in respect of others and until physical distancing restrictions are lifted.
You will notice the doors in the hallways will be closed as you make your way inside. In order to cut down on sanitation, we need your family to proceed directly to the sanctuary instead of heading into any closed rooms.
When you enter the sanctuary, you will find bulletins for your use that have been placed in the seats by those wearing gloves prior to your arrival. You will also note that alternating rows will be marked to be left vacant. Please leave two chairs vacant between households.
As odd as it will be, we ask everyone to remain masked throughout the service. Additionally, we will not be passing the Peace or the offering plate (which you may find in the back of the church by the font upon entry). While we may be a bit muffled and distanced, we can be no less joyful and expressive in our praise, prayer and interactions with one another in worship! We will even celebrate birthday and anniversary blessings as couples and individuals stand in place.
When it comes time for Communion you will remain at your seat. Fr. Petta and Fr. Greg will come to you with a tray. On it will be several individually ‘cupped’ hosts. Please take one, communicate yourself, and then drop the container in the paper bag that they will be holding in their other hand. It will enable us to maintain distancing and limit movement in the sanctuary.
After the service concludes, each row will be dismissed by the ushers to manage the flow out of the building. We ask that you head straight outside to the front lawn for fellowship where the clergy will be waiting for you. It will not only help in maintaining social distancing, but will also allow those cleaning for the next service to begin quickly.
I recognize this is quite different, but above all we love you all and want you to be safe as we gather together! You remain in my prayers as you discern what is best for you and your family. I, and the clergy and staff, remain here for you as questions arise and to help guide you as we rejoin one another in the weeks to come.
In Christ Jesus,
The Rev. Andrew S. Petta
Rector of Saint Barnabas