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Taking Steps to Re-Gather Safely
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A Message from Christ Episcopal Church
This is a special message. Please keep in mind that the situation surrounding COVID-19 is ever-changing; Christ Episcopal Church will keep you updated on our practices and procedures according to parish and diocesan guidelines.
Dear friends,

I know many of you, like me, are heartsick from missing the joy of in-person worship.  The Vestry and our Regathering Task Force share this yearning and are laboring behind the scenes to make a world possible where we get to see each other again and physically worship together as the Body of Christ.  

Here’s where we are at. 

Barriers to re-opening:
  1. We do not have a well-ventilated space.  You can watch this video, well-prepared for the diocese, that includes information about how aerosol transmission works.  Air filtration has been the primary barrier to our communal access to our beautiful space.  
  2. We have a small space.  Places with larger worship spaces nearby, such as Blessed Sacrament and Cross and Crown, are doing limited in-person worship.  So far they have not reported an outbreak.  Across the nation, churches that have re-opened have been a consistent source of spreader events.  I know I keep saying this, but the number of you I am willing to sacrifice is zero.  We will not re-open until all our I’s are dotted and all our t’s are crossed.  
  3. The building has not had water or heat for several weeks, due to a water main break and a boiler malfunction.  We could not be inhabiting the building anyway right now.  
  4. Any kind of in-person worship service must have a fully written plan that must be pre-approved by the diocesan chancellors.  This process is glitchy – for example, a plan was submitted for courtyard worship on September 20 and 27 and for an outdoor pet blessing on St. Francis, and we could not get approval in time for any of them.  You can read the diocesan documents and guidelines for yourself here and here.
  5. We need teams of trained volunteers to clean, greet, take temperatures, set up and take down the space, every time.  If you are able to do this, please contact Joslin Harris-Gane or Mary Lou Hatcher.  
  6. Not a barrier, but a reminder: re-opening will not look like anything we have ever known.  Communion is still intensely restricted.  We will not be able to sit next to one another.  We will not be able to touch one another.  Choirs are prohibited.  Coffee hour is prohibited.  Everyone will be masked.  A re-open is not a return to normal.  

Here is what we are doing to speed up re-opening:
  1. Fixing the water and heat issues so that we can even think about having people in the building at all again.  
  2. The regathering task force has been engaging a number of HVAC engineers to assess our space and airflow, as this has been the single most significant barrier to accessibility in our space.  Wonderfully, this work is nearly completed and a bid will be presented to the Vestry this month to approve.  Once that proposal is accepted, we can begin work.  Once the work is completed, we can start hosting limited in-person worship 2-4 weeks afterward.  
  3. Your clergy are working on beautiful and intimate services as best we can during the interim.  We are also keeping up with the constant and shifting requirements at both the state and diocesan level so that we remain compliant in a way that keeps everyone safe.  We are working especially hard on a beauty of an All Saints celebration for our parish anniversary.   
  4. Your clergy and the Regathering Task Force are prepping plans, liturgies, and the extensive logistical work required for an in-person re-opening.  There is much groundwork to be done, mapping of the space to complete, and people to train before we can be together in a limited and healthy way.  

Here is what you can do to speed up re-opening:
  1. Continue to stay home, stay masked, and socially distanced.  Health officials are rightfully worried about a fall surge and such a surge could send us back a Phase or a half-Phase, which would bring a full halt to any in-person services.  If you can, get a flu shot and help the hospitals stay less stressed and more available for COVID patients.
  2. Stay in touch, continue worshipping, pledging and donating.  Your financial support is what is making any and all of this planning possible.  You are keeping the door open to getting the doors open.  
  3. Keep praying!  Stay connected, stay church, stay in love with God and each other.  Reach out when you need help or aren’t quite making it.  

I long for you, and we all long for the taste of the bread and wine on our lips, for the irreplaceable experience of feeling each other in the space and raising all our souls to God in prayer.  

What is certain: this, too, will pass.  Until then, we remain held in Love.

Blessings,
Shelly






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Christ Episcopal Church · 4548 Brooklyn Ave. NE · Seattle, Wa 98105 · USA

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