March 27, 2022Dear Friends, In mid-March, we received updated guidance from our Diocese regarding changes to the recommendations for COVID precautions in congregations, in light of the more favorable epidemiological data since the January surge has diminished. At their March meeting, the Vestry discussed these updated recommendations and provided guidance to our team as we considered how to evolve St. Paul’s COVID protocols in light of how the pandemic has proceeded. Some of those guiding principles included:
- A general sense that the decline in COVID rates and increase in vaccine availability support some loosening of precautions at this time.
- Desire to balance our “data-driven” approach with pastoral sensitivity, inclusivity, and awareness of how our population differs demographically from the general public.
- Thinking about protocol changes like driving a stick-shift: we have to be able to shift in both directions, smoothly, while the car is still driving, based on what happens around us!
Given this guidance, effective April 1st, 2022, our COVID precautions will change in these ways:
- Social Distancing restrictions will be lifted. All pews will be open for general seating at church services. Altar ministers will again be seated in the chancel and the Gospel will be proclaimed “in the midst of the congregation.” The area of chairs behind the pews on the organ side of the church will be set aside for those wishing to sit more socially distant from others. Ushers can make the chairs on the choir-side similarly available, if needed.
- Masks will continue to be required in the building on Sunday morning, however, once you are in the Parish Hall for Coffee Hour, you may remove your mask while there. Those leading worship may continue to remove their masks while speaking.
- Windows will continue to be opened to promote airflow in the Sanctuary and Parish Hall.
- We will soon be reintroducing the distribution of wine during Holy Communion. For now, rather than drinking from the Common Cup, after receiving the bread in the center aisle parishioners will turn to the side aisle where a Eucharistic Minister will be stationed with a pouring chalice. Those wishing to receive the wine will take a compostable cup (provided) and allow the minister to fill it and say the words of administration. A compost bin for disposing of the cup before returning to your seat will be available.
- Offering plates will once again be passed through the pews by ushers. Prayer Books and Hymnals will be returned to the pews. We will continue to print a full leaflet on Sundays, to enable everyone (including those worshipping from home) to follow the service.
- Outside of Sunday mornings, masks will be optional at church, including for small group, committee, and program meetings. All personal masking decisions will be respected 100%. If you are coming to church to meet with a staff member and would like them to wear a mask, please just let them know and all would be glad to put one on. NOTE: If you enter the pre-school area while school is in session (to use the restroom), you will need to put on a mask to comply with their masking requirements.
The OAT will continue to monitor the epidemiology of COVID in our region, guidance from our Diocese, and the experience of our congregation adjusting to these protocol changes. Further updates will be considered and introduced in the coming months. We pray that COVID numbers will remain low, and that these updates will enable more of us to begin resuming more of our regular congregational life together.Moving forward, we will continue to assess when it might be appropriate for us to:
- Resume receiving communion while kneeling at the altar rail.
- Resume offering the Common Cup.
- Shift to optional masking during worship.
- Return to offering communally-served food at Coffee Hour (instead of pre-packaged).
As always, we thank each of you for how faithfully you’ve embraced our COVID protocols over these many months, and for your thoughtfulness in understanding the challenges of balancing multiple points of view and discerning what is best for the whole community. We continue to welcome your feedback to any of us at any time.Faithfully, Betsey Anderson, Christine Anderson, Andy Jeffrey, Doris Kraemer, Heath Luedde, Emily Mitchell, Ron Presti, and Rev. Chris Wendell Your Operational Adaptations Team (OAT)
July 17, 2020
As we collectively navigate the changes and challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, St. Paul’s has developed guidelines and protocols to help us adapt to new ways of being Christ’s hands in the world. From livestream worship to limited office hours to Zoom-based coffee hour and small-group meetings, we aim to support each other and our spiritual community in this time of physical distance.
The guidelines below offer further details on our policies regarding worship, parish services, pastoral care, and building use. We are following both state and local guidelines and the Journey by Stages protocol developed by the Diocese of Massachusetts to help guide our decision making and offerings. Please note that our plans continue to evolve as the public-health situation changes. We may adapt, add, or eliminate protocols and services as needed.
If you have further questions after reading the guidelines, please feel free to contact us at 781-275-8262 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHAT TO EXPECT . . .
WHEN YOU ATTEND SUNDAY WORSHIP
We intend to continue in-person worship with a concurrent livestream as our principal Sunday worship offering. In 2021-2022, we will also have a brief Sunday evening in-person worship service.
We may offer occasional outdoor worship in the summer and fall in the Memorial Garden, either as part of the Sunday-morning livestream, or as a separate late-afternoon or evening service on Sundays.
For more information: Sunday Worship
WHEN YOU ATTEND OTHER SERVICES
St. Paul’s is prepared to host small indoor funeral services in the sanctuary. All attendees must wear masks for the duration of the service.
For more information: Funerals
Daily Office (Morning Prayer)
St. Paul’s has been hosting Morning Prayer on weekdays via Zoom. We may offer Morning Prayer in person for very small groups in the courtyard garden or sanctuary. Participants would observe social distancin, and remain masked throughout the short (20-minute) service.
For more information: Daily Office
WHEN RECEIVING COMMUNION
St. Paul’s has adopted protocols for the safe consecration and distribution of the Eucharist (wafer only) during Sunday in-person worship and for at-home consumption. Home delivery of consecrated hosts is also available for those unable to come to church for pickup.
For more information: Communion
WHEN YOU NEED TO VISIT THE PARISH OFFICE
Visitors may come to the parish office during regular office hours (Tues. through Fri. 9am to 1pm). All visitors should wear masks and should sanitize their hands when they arrive.
For more information: Visiting the Parish Office
WHEN YOU NEED PASTORAL CARE
Rev. Chris and Rev. Rachel are available for pastoral care via phone, Skype, email, and Zoom. Please contact the parish office (781-275-8262 or email@example.com) to arrange an appointment.
For more information: Pastoral Visits
WHEN YOU ATTEND A SMALL-GROUP MEETING
Committees and ministries will be encouraged to continue meeting remotely. Any committee or small group wishing to gather in person in the church will be required to obtain clergy permission and follow our small-group meeting protocols.
For more information: Small Group Meetings
FOR CLEANING AND SANITIZING
St. Paul’s has established protocols for regular cleaning and sanitizing of the building, and for additional cleaning after any confirmed or suspected COVID-19 exposure. We have a backup cleaning contractor in addition to our regular sexton, in case of illness or one-time needs for extra cleaning.
We have removed all hymnals and prayer books from the pews and stored them for future use. Designated pews and portions of pews that are closed will be marked with signage. We have also removed the offering plates; we encourage parishioners and guests to make their offerings online, via mail, or via a “no touch” drop box in the Narthex, which will be made available during any limited in-person worship gatherings.