Summary for Regathering
Last June, the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia provided guidelines for safely returning for in-person worship in this time of COVID-19. St. Thomas submitted a plan for approval that detailed when and how we would prepare for our eventual return. Our plan was approved by the Diocese in July. We hoped to re-gather in late summer, but it became clear that the timing was not wise with the rise in number of local virus cases. With a more recent decline in cases, the new target date for coming together is November 29, the first Sunday in Advent.
Our plan to re-gather during this uncertain time follows Government health guidelines, Diocesan mandates, and what we continue to learn are “best practices”:
- Offering one in-person Sunday worship service at 10:30 AM
- Continuing virtual worship
- Limiting in-person worship to 50 persons (plus clergy and laypersons) and implementing a reservation system
- Adhering to health protocol to minimize risks for parishioners, staff, and guests (masks, temperature checks, health questionnaire, contact tracing)
- Identifying specific points of entrance and exit to the building for worship
- Increasing the cleaning and sanitizing schedule throughout used areas of the building
- Installing hand sanitizing dispensers in all areas and each pew
- Removing paper items, hymnals, and Book of Common Prayer from the sanctuary and narthex
- Social distance seating arrangement in the sanctuary
- Providing organ and instrumental (no woodwind and brass) music selections, soloists, and the choir with certain limitations, though no congregational singing
- Passing the Peace with smiles and waves rather than a handshakes or hugs
- Resuming communion in one kind offering wafers only
- Finding alternative ways to safely offer Formation, children and youth Sunday School, and other ministries
- Not providing a nursery for young children until further notice
- No coffee hour for now
- Replacing fabric covered chairs in Taylor Hall with polyethylene plastic chairs
- Limiting access to areas within the building
- Slowly reinstating use of designated meeting space for smaller ministries and meetings
- Opening, but restricting, meeting space for outside groups with a reasonable monthly fee to defray additional cleaning costs.
The list is long but designed to keep everyone healthy and is, hopefully, temporary. Please click here for the list of Frequently Asked Questions for more information on re-gathering plans.
Need for In-Person Worship Volunteers
Volunteers are urgently needed for weekly worship! The only requirement is that you be high school age or an adult. Training will be provided. The first Sunday that volunteers are needed is at a trial-run for in-person worship on November 22. Contact the church office at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your interest and upcoming weeks that you’re available to serve.
Greeters – stand on the front sidewalk welcoming parishioners and guests prior to the service; write down the name and email address of guests for follow-up contact by the newcomer’s coordinator; dress warm and wear a smile.
Ushers – escort worshippers to a pew prior to the service; lead worshippers exiting one pew at a time at the conclusion of the service; open the side entrance to the narthex for anyone needing to use the ramp; be available in the narthex during the service to help with anyone in need.
Lay Readers – read assigned Lesson or Prayers of the People during the service.
Audio-Visual Assistant – help with setting up and operating equipment to livestream worship services.