When can we get back in the church??
Dear fellow All Saints-in-training,
In case you have been wondering when and how we would be able to resume services in our beloved building, here is a brief update from my perspective:
on June 18, as you may recall, Bishop Shannon and the diocesan Restart Team published a set of guidelines for reopening parish building and grounds. It gave details of what uses would be permitted, and how they would have to be conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic, in a five phase plan, All parishes were to start in phase 1, which closed church buildings to all uses and suspended all in-person worship. Parishes would be permitted to apply to the Restart Team for permission to enter the next higher phase, one phase at a time.
On June 23, with the approval of the Vestry, All Saints submitted its application to enter Phase 2, which allows for Clergy, Staff and Wardens to enter the building for necessary tasks, but does not allow for any worship services or church meetings in the building or on the grounds. (Some parishes may choose to film worship in the building in Phase 2, but we are not doing that.) On August 6 we received notice that our application to enter Phase 2 was approved; the delay was, I think, due largely to the heavy backlog of applications the Restart Team had to consider.
On August 11, the Vestry held a special meeting (via Zoom) to consider an application for Phase 3 with our All Saints Reopening Team (consisting of David Hamilton, Julie Bonanno, Marga Sproul and myself) had prepared. The Vestry approved the application unanimously, and I submitted it that night. When our application is approved, as we expect it will be in a month or so, we will have permission to hold small gatherings (25 people or fewer) for worship and meetings outside on the grounds of the church, but not in the building. People in any gatherings will have to be masked and socially distanced for safety; no singing or serving of Communion will be permitted in Phase 3. (All of these restrictions apply in Phase 4, except that in Phase 4 worship may take place in the church building. But we are not there yet!)
This year of the pandemic is testing all people in the world sorely, with over 180,000 deaths in the United States alone attributed to COVID-19 so far, and with no clear end in sight. We are fortunate to live in Vermont at this time, where a small population and strong leadership seems to have spared us from the worst ravages of the pandemic. But we are not out of danger yet, and it may be many months before we have an effective and widely available vaccine so that it will be safe for us to gather in person once more. David and Peggy and the rest of us on the Vestry are firmly committed to keeping our beloved community together but safe, and that, dear friends, almost certainly means we are looking at many more months of online worship. We can do it. Its hard to be patient, but together we can do it.
Love and Peace,
Glenn Sproul, Senior Warden
P.S. A gentle reminder....
Most of our expenses continue unchanged despite the building being closed. Please continue to do your part to keep All Saints viable financially as well as spiritually by keeping current with your pledge payments. Thank you so much, dear friends.
After much thought and discussion, there will not be a Holiday Bazaar this year.
Let's take this time to reflect on past success we've enjoyed and think opf new exciting ideas for 2021!
Stay safe and stay healthy