Dear St. John’s Community,
On August 14th, I announced our two-part plan for in-person Sunday services starting on September 13th. Our Regathering Task Force continues to work on the many details associated with this next phase of our re-gathering as a worship community. I want to share with you our latest thinking as we move along this path together.
The first part our two-part plan will be a Holy Eucharist worship service inside the church. Due to safety considerations, only those individuals who perform an essential role in conducting the service (clergy, crucifer, chalice bearers, organist, and lay readers) will attend. The service will be live-streamed starting at 9:00 a.m. on every Sunday. Our wonderful choir and soloists will continue to provide pre-recorded music just as they have been all summer. The live-streamed service will be recorded, so that those who are unable to watch the service at 9:00 a.m. can enjoy it later.
The second part of our two-part plan, also beginning on September 13th, will be in-person gatherings on Sunday afternoons at three outdoor locations (one in DC, one in MD, and one in VA). We will have a short prayer service, distribution of previously blessed bread and wine, and the chance to enjoy being with one another in fellowship once again. Our plan is for clergy to be present at all of these gatherings.
If you wish to attend one of these outdoor services, you will need to sign up beforehand. We will send you instructions on how to do that within the next couple of weeks. The number of people who can attend any given service is limited by local and diocesan guidance, so it possible that the sign-up list for a particular service could fill up quickly. If that happens to you, you may wish to consider signing up for another location or wait for another Sunday. Our ushers will be ensuring that everyone who shows up at service is on the sign-up list. Finally, if you do sign up for a particular service and your plans subsequently change, you will be able to cancel online to give others the opportunity to attend.
At the outdoor service, we will need to follow all the CDC and local guidelines for large gatherings, to include the wear of face coverings and maintaining at least a six-foot distance between family groupings.
Finally, many of the other virtual activities we have enjoyed for the past few months will continue even after we implement our two-part plan. These include Bible Study, weeknight Compline, Centering Prayer, the new Sacred Ground Dialogue on Race and Faith, Book Group, and the Guest Speaker Series. (In fact, our next Guest Speakers Series event will be held on September 13th at 11:00 a.m. with John Barry, the author of The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Plague in History
.) Because we will have an opportunity to gather in-person at outdoor locations, we plan to hold a virtual Coffee Hour only when the weather prevents us from meeting in-person.
I continue to look forward to the day when we all can join together in the church, but in the meantime, I am excited about this next phase of our worship together.