22 May Regathering in the Church – May 31, 2020
St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church
22 Cumberland Street, Clear Spring, Maryland
Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
Message from Father Steve
Dear friends in Christ;
As we are all aware, we are living in scary times with the COVID19 pandemic. Not one person has “escaped” this virus, either physically, or through the economic impacts of losing jobs, and an income. In some cases, many people have turned against each other.
Those who belong to a Church Community really know the emotional, and spiritual impact of being “Shut Out” of your Church. It is very hard not being with your Church family every Sunday, and to actually “taste” the Sacrament. Spiritual Communion is nice, but not something we all want to continue.
Since 2013, St. Andrew’s has been ahead of the times by our weekly Livestreaming of all our services. During this pandemic, we have come to understand the impact of our Livestreaming from St. Andrew’s to the virtual World. We literally have a regular audience of what I like to call our “Livestreaming Parishioners” from around the World watching, as well as across the United States.
But, you all want to get back into your house!
The Episcopal Diocese of Maryland has been working very hard on a plan, a phased in plane, for the Churches across the Diocese to move towards “In Person Worship”. The plan is color coded: Red; Orange; Yellow, and Green. Obviously, Green meaning fully back to normal.
Churches have been asked to submit their plans for moving forward. I submitted a plan to the Diocese for St. Andrew’s to move from our current Red Phase, towards the Orange Phase. This request was based on the COVID numbers in our region, and what I was going to do in order to make St. Andrew’s safe. I am happy to report that as of today, May 21, 2020, I received permission from the Bishop’s Office for St. Andrew’s to move to the Orange Phase, effective Pentecost Sunday, May 31,2020.
There will be some restrictions as we move into this phase. Most of the visible restrictions you will notice upon your return will be the Social Distancing Requirements, including the wearing of a Face Mask, and the absence of Prayer Books, and Hymnals in the pews. Perry Hall has also been arranged for seating to help with the Social Distancing requirements for worship. A large screen television has been set up inside Perry Hall in order to watch the Livestreaming of the service taking place inside the Church. Please bring your own Prayer Book to worship. For those who do not have their own Prayer Book, I will temporarily assign Prayer Books from the Church. These prayer books will be transported back and forth from your homes.
Everyone will receive a copy of the “Regathering Covenant” prior to Pentecost Sunday, and also at the door upon your arrival on Pentecost Sunday. We will also be required to enhance our sanitation efforts, and some other safety requirements. You will also notice signage around the Church campus.
Everyone will be able to receive the Sacrament (Bread)! This is a big move from Red Phase.
Finally. Anyone who does not feel safe coming back into the Church at this time, or feels as if they are not able to abide by the Diocesan Regathering Covenant, but would still like to receive the Sacrament, myself, or Deacon John will bring the Sacrament (Bread) out to your vehicle in the parking lot upon the close of the service.
Fidelis In Ministerio
The Rev’d. Steven L. McCarty+ – Priest
Vicar of St. Andrew’s