Here at Our Savior, we have placed a priority on safety–for parishioners and for me. This priority has made things much more difficult for folks. We were limited at first 100% to live-streamed Masses; gradually, we added Morning Prayer after weekday Mass and Holy Communion on the porch on Fridays and Sundays.
Next, we began limited Sunday Mass, then a Vigil Mass as well. Because of our implementing of the “best practices” as expressed by the Archbishop and the Governor and the CDC, we saw ourselves limited by social distancing to 31 households, we required masks, and we required reservations (on the thinking that we didn’t want to turn folks away if we were full). We also asked for phone numbers so we could do “contact tracing” if need be.
After much thought, I believe we can now open up even more and still be safe. We will still (for the time being) be limited to the two weekend Masses (if we get usher volunteers we will open up the 8:30 Sunday Mass, as well). But because of our practices (especially that of masks and hand sanitizing when entering), I think we can safely double our household capacity to 61. Given this, there should be no need to call in for reservations. Folks will still need to check in, but if we already have your phone number there’s no need to give it again.
I believe we can also open up the restrooms in a limited way: in both, the handicap stall will be available, along with one sink; for the men, one urinal as well. Others will still be taped off, and we will need to disinfect after each use; folks will need also to use hand sanitizer when coming back to church.
Once we see how these practices work out, and once we get a good team of ushers for 8:30 Mass on Sunday, it will be open, as well. Then we’ll be able to consider weekday Mass, especially on Wednesdays when we have Adoration in the morning. All of this will put us a bit more in line with the practices of virtually every other parish around us. We’ll still be the strictest, and therefore (I hope) the safest.
I know there are a number of families who still feel too nervous to want to get back to church. That’s why, no matter what, we’ll continue to offer Holy Communion on the porch on Fridays and Sundays. And I’ll continue my porch chats to try to keep people informed (as well as the “Poetry Corner” to keep people amused).
No one wants to get back to “normal” more than I do! But no one wants our parish to be safe more than I do, either. It’s a delicate balance; please be patient with me, and consider volunteering to usher at 8:30 Sunday Mass so we can get back to a full weekend schedule again.