8:00 am in-person
10:30 am in-person
10:30 am online
Dear People of God at St. Benedict’s,
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! It seems like every few minutes I have an update for you about our worship practices and guidelines around Covid-19 safety, and today is no different. I want to thank each of you for your patience, faithfulness, and gentle care for one another in this strange season of transition and adapting. You really have, as St. Paul encourages us to do, borne one another's burdens with grace as we try to figure out what life together looks like for folks with different risk tolerances, vaccination statuses, and comfort levels.
In light of the data collected from our recent survey (113 households responded, 90 of which identified themselves as regular worshipers at St. Benedict's):
We have a vaccination rate of at least 90% in households that responded. Some of those households include small children not yet eligible for a vaccine. Many of those families indicated their children would be vaccinated as soon as they’re eligible. When asked “How comfortable are you returning to indoor worship?” The average answer was 8.5/10.
Because of this data and our vaccination rates, BEGINNING SUNDAY, JULY 4, we will follow CDC guidelines for gatherings:
Vaccinated people aged 12 & older can choose whether or not to wear a mask according to their own comfort level.
We ask unvaccinated people aged 12 & older to continue both masking and social distancing.
For children under 12 we will allow each family to decide what's best for their kids around masking.
No more need for pre-registration for worship or assigned seating.
The last six rows on the right side of the nave will be reserved for those who choose to continue social distancing.
But don't throw that mask away yet! Beginning July 11 (Feast of St. Benedict!), we will slowly reintroduce congregational singing. We will ask, for at least a few weeks, that folks wear masks while we sing. Singing is the piece of worship which carries the highest risk, and this compromise and careful ramp up helps everyone to feel more comfortable and on board.
I hope you will see these changes as a positive step forward. If infection rates rise, or if the CDC changes its recommendations, we may need to make other changes. But in this season - thanks be to God! - this feels like it cares for the most vulnerable among us while also responding to science and the needs of the worshiping community. I know there is no perfect set of guidelines: we've got faithful folks who are frustrated with mask requirements and others hesitant to drop them. The Task Force and I think this is the right way forward for this season, and is in line with what other Episcopal Churches in our convocation and diocese are doing.
I also want to encourage all eligible folks to be vaccinated as soon as possible. I am glad to talk with you about my experiences, listen to your concerns, or help you make a vaccination plan. With our 90%+ vaccination rate, I know there are others who would gladly do so as well; let me know and I will help you make a connection.
As always, if you have any comments, concerns, questions, recommendations, I welcome a conversation. Special thanks to our faithful task force: Ann Canipe, Monty Johnson, Saralee Parker, Victoria Patrick, Bob Porter, Mitch Strickland and Valerie Pool for their tireless care and discernment for St. Benedict's in a long, strange, demanding season. God will not leave us or forsake us.
I look forward to seeing you back in church!
Yours in Christ,
All Are Welcome!
Worship at St. Benedict's is in the rich Episcopal liturgical tradition with the Eucharistic celebration, music and singing.
The Eucharist is a community celebration where all take an active part. All baptized Christians are welcome to receive Communion. Music and singing are fundamental and essential elements of Christian worship. As such, they are a large part of worship at St. Benedict's.