June 24th, 2020 – A Letter from Rev. Daniel
Dear Holy Trinity,
Over the past several weeks, we have been announcing our intention to re-open for in-person worship on Sunday, June 28. Below is a list of protocols regarding what to expect if you elect to attend worship here at the church. These protocols represent the various recommendations and regulations set forth by the CDC, State of Florida, Pinellas County and the Episcopal Diocese of Southwest Florida. The vestry and I added some protocols to offer additional layers of protection. We understand these protocols may be a deterrent for some, but please keep in mind that they are in place for your safety and the safety of others.
First and foremost, please understand that in-person worship is 100% OPTIONAL! Despite the recent climb in Covid-19 infection rates, we still feel is it important for the church to be “open” for worship. It is our desire to put the decision whether or not to attend back in the hands of the individual. In the current health climate, we expect many of our parishioners to stay home and not attend in-person worship. If fact, I am encouraging people to stay home unless they feel 100% confident that they are ready for public worship. Attendance numbers will be very low for the foreseeable future, which is perfectly fine and expected. For those that elect to stay home, we will be live-streaming the 10AM service every Sunday. Information about the live-stream will follow in a separate correspondence.
Secondly, if you test positive for Covid-19, or someone in your household tests positive for Covid-19, or you’ve been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19, please notify the church office IMMEDIATELY. This is very important information, both from a pastoral care perspective and a community health perspective. Knowing this will be critical so we can engage in contact tracing which will allow us to limit the spread of Covid-19 within our community. We are asking this of anyone within the Holy Trinity community, regardless of whether you are attending in-person worship or staying home.
The following are what to expect regarding Sunday Morning Worship:
- Currently, we will offer two services, 8AM and 10AM. These services will be identical to each other. Based on attendance and safe occupancy of the sanctuary, we will re-evaluate the need for two services and make adjustments as needed.
- If you are not feeling well or are running a temperature over 100 degrees, please stay home until you are feeling better.
- Breakfast and coffee-hour have been suspended until further notice.
- Nursery care has been suspended until further notice.
- All prayer books, hymnals, and loose items have been removed from the pews until further notice. A complete bulletin will be provided.
- Masks are REQUIRED to be worn while inside the sanctuary.
- If you wish to socialize and visit with others, please practice social distancing and socialize in the parking lot before or after the service. Please do not congregate in the breezeway and narthex.
- Please keep 6 feet distance from another group. A “group” is defined as anyone you share a household with or those who you traveled with to the church. A “group” can be one person. The pews are marked to help assist with 6 feet spacing. In addition, seating is only allowed in every other pew.
- During the Peace, please avoid physical contact (unless it is with someone within your group) and do not move about the sanctuary.
- You may place your offering in the plate as you enter the sanctuary or as you leave the sanctuary. There will be no “offertory” until further notice.
- During the distribution of Holy Communion, the minister will bring consecrated bread to your location in the pews. Please do not leave the pews or form a line at the altar rail.
- Please do not leave any items in the pew when you depart the service. Trash and recycle bins will be available as you exit.
- We will enter the sanctuary the usual way, through the breezeway and narthex; however, we will exit the sanctuary through the doors at the front of the church which lead straight to the parking lot.
- Currently, there will be no music or congregational singing at our worship services. We hope to offer music at the 10am service in the future.
As I said earlier, despite the recent climb in Covid-19 cases, we still feel it is important for the church to be “open” for worship. The church is a beacon of hope for both the members of Holy Trinity and the greater community around us. Yes, we have technology that has allowed us to continue to worship in the safety of our homes, but there are tangible and intangible signals of hope that are missing when we are “closed”. Even if we only have five people in the sanctuary on Sunday morning, I still think it’s worth the effort to be open for worship. We will follow all governmental and diocesan regulations as they change in the future. It is our goal to conduct worship in the most responsible manner that we can. Please be patient with us as we navigate these unknown waters. This is a learning process and we will make adjustments as needs and concerns arise. Overall, I am hopeful with this step forward. May God bless our endeavors and keep us all safe during this time.
Rev. Daniel J. Lemley