My Beloved Flock:
Glory to Jesus Christ. I received a new directive from His Eminence dated March 3rd, 2021. In it, His Eminence reiterates the current directive for mandatory masks and social distancing, hand sanitizing and temperature checks—along with the occupancy limit of ¼ capacity. No changes to these measures. But the new directive also relaxes a few of the previous restrictions, while calling for diligence in safety protocols. Here are the things applicable to our parish:
- Icons may be venerated
in the customary manner; the people should be
advised to be attentive to their own health when doing so, e.g. people with
coughs or colds should refrain from kissing the icons as they would refrain
from doing at the time of any illness.
- Coffee/fellowship hours may be held, provided they take place outdoors,
and that the other usual procedures are maintained, e.g., social distancing is observed.
- Collection baskets may be passed.
- Service materials, e.g. service and prayer books, may now be placed for the
use of the faithful, provided they are regularly sanitized.
- Forgiveness Vespers should be served as usual, while observing all current
safety protocols, but without the direct personal exchange of the kiss of peace.
The priest will ask forgiveness of the congregation from the Ambon.
The faithful will respond from their places.
- Sunday of Orthodoxy Vespers should be served in each parish separately,
either directly after the Divine Liturgy or on Sunday evening, while
observing all current safety protocols.
- The Liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified Gifts should be served as usual, while
observing all current health protocols.
Further specifics relating to the Divine Services of Holy Week and Pascha will be forthcoming.
Many, I’m sure, joyfully welcome these modifications. The most substantial and challenging change is in our now being able to have coffee hour. Your parish council will further consider how to best provide the safe environment that qualifies the lifting of this episcopal restriction. We have made suitable arrangements for tomorrow. Weather permitting, we will place tables on the courtyard with no more than 4 or 5 chairs at each. Foods will be served with gloves and masks. I remind you, as did the Archbishop from the outset of Covid-19, if you do not feel comfortable coming, please stay away until you feel at ease. We are a family and understand that our contact at church is not the only contact we have with others. Let each person should do what they deem best in their own individual circumstances.
With Love in Christ,