March 25, 2020: Parish Update Regarding Current Status of Church Services & Events

Dear Brethren & Friends of St Elizabeth’s,

I am writing today to address how we will proceed with parish life in light of the governor’s order regarding public gatherings and the clarification exempting religious and political organizations. Before I outline our parish’s plan for proceeding with parish life (much of which has already been in place), I would like to remind ourselves that the Church is – to use contemporary parlance – an, or rather, the “essential service.” The Church is the “Ark of Salvation” and, through the divine services and sacraments, we are connected to “all the fullness of God” unto eternal life. We should endeavor to live everyday of our lives – whether in peaceful times or times of trouble – in the bosom of the Church, which is Christ’s “Mystical Body.”

Below is our plan for proceeding with parish life in a way that addresses our ability to worship and our desire to be conscientious to the community regarding the spread of the Coronavirus. This plan is temporary in nature and we will constantly be evaluating things as conditions might change.

-All church services will proceed as scheduled

-All non-liturgical events have been postponed or cancelled (such as coffee hour, Sunday School, etc,) until further notice

-We will begin live streaming all church services on our parish’s Facebook page beginning on Friday, March 27

-All those who are in the category of being susceptible to Cornavirus (senior citizens, those who have a compromised immune systems, etc.) should consider staying home from church and watch our live stream, but should not feel compelled to stay home

-For those of you who are sick, especially those with symptoms resembling the Coronavirus, we ask that you stay home from church and watch our live stream

-For those of you who have been exposed to someone with the Coronavirus, or symptoms resembling it, we ask that you stay home from church and watch our live stream

-For those who will be coming to the church services, we ask that you practice “social distancing” attempting to keep 6 feet of distance from each other (family members do not have to “social distance” from each other, only from others or other families)

-A core of the choir has agreed to sing the services together (as many are from the same family), but any other choir members may join the choir if they wish, but should not feel obligated to do so

-The number of altar servers is not restricted as the altar is large enough to account for our usual number

-Regarding Confession, Fr Mark will hear them at the usual times in the usual manner as well as via telephone

-If anyone feels sick during a church service, we ask that they leave and, if possible, let the church warden know

-Our parish warden, Josh Shaw (or his designee), will be at all church services standing in Narthex helping the faithful with “social distancing” and assisting any visitors who might not be aware of our current procedures

-All the surfaces in the church (including the bathrooms) will be cleansed before and after each church surface and all church vessels will be cleaned thoroughly in the traditional manner

At this time, I ask your prayers for Metropolitan Hilarion, Bishop Nicholas, for me, and for the parish council. These are unprecedented times and none of us has ever had to make such weighty decisions regarding church life. Two final things: please check in on one another during this time as so many of us have been living in some form of isolation; and, please know that I love each and every one of you and pray for you daily as well as commemorate you by name at every liturgy that I serve.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you need a pastoral visit, or if you have questions or concerns.

With much love in Christ,

Fr Mark