We are opening for church services on Sunday, June 14th for two services, 8:30 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. The four tenants for the safe re-opening of the church include staying home if you are sick or feeling even a bit poorly, good hand hygiene, safe social distancing and disinfection of commonly touched surfaces. Disinfectant wipes, surface sanitizer, hand sanitizer and other cleaning products will be available and used to help protect all of us.
The following changes will be initiated to keep everyone safe. These will require everyone’s participation and cooperation. They include:
· The left entrance with the handicapped accessible ramp will be open and the main church doors will remain closed.
· Everyone entering the church must maintain a 6 foot social distance from other families.
· Upon entrance parishioners are asked to go immediately to the service location.
· The 8:30 a.m. service location will be held in the community room; the 10:00 a.m. service location will be held in the sanctuary.
· Upon entering the service area, please apply hand sanitizer which will be conveniently located in the back of the community room/sanctuary.
· If you wish to provide an offering, a basket will be available at the entrance of the service area. During Phase II we will not be passing the collection basket. It is strongly recommended that if at all possible, you consider mailing your checks to the church or set St. Matthew’s up as a ‘bill pay’ in your online banking. The address is: St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church 9549 Highland Dr. Brecksville, OH 44141.
· Please select a pew or seat row with a ribbon on it (ribbons assist with social distancing) and a seat that is at least 6 feet from any other family Every other row of pews or chairs in the church must not be occupied to maintain social distancing guidance. During the Phase II re-opening, all parishioners aside from Rev. Stephanie are asked to remain in their pew/chair unless entering, exiting or restroom use. During Phase II no childcare will be provided.
· Please refrain from entering the balcony, basement, cross room, kitchen or office to help limit the areas that need to be disinfected before and after each service.
· Please refrain from eating or drinking inside the building as masks or face shields that cover your mouth, nose and chin must be worn by everyone entering the building. Children 2 years of age or less are exempt from this regulation.
· In case we have visitors or someone forgets their mask, we will have a limited number of disposable paper masks available.
· Coat racks, missals, Books of Common Prayer and name badges will not be used during Phase II of the re-opening. These have been stored.
· Ushers will assist everyone entering to help find seating that is safely social distanced. They will also record attendees on a family checklist. This is needed in the event we hear of a Covid-19 illness and need to implement contact tracing.
· Acolytes, readers and singers will also temporarily be suspended. Robert will accompany some of the services with live music and we might have some prerecorded music. At this time there will be no singing in the church.
· The peace will be ‘namaste’ in form – hands in prayer position, nodding of head without handshaking, hugging or other touching.
· The services will vary between Morning Prayer and the Eucharist. As we are not allowed to pass the bread or wine, we will enjoy a spiritual communion during the Eucharistic service. During this time, I will continue to fast from taking the Eucharist in solidarity with each of you. Please remember Christ is present and enters into our bodies, hearts, souls and minds whether or not we physically eat the bread or drink the wine. With God all things are possible!
· If you are a regular 10 a.m. attendee, please consider joining the 8:30 a.m. service so we can maintain proper social distancing. Please let me know if you are willing and able to do this.
· We will not be able to provide a coffee hour during the Phase II reopening. Understanding how important socializing with each other is, you may spend time in the parking lot chatting but please maintain safe distances at all times.
· The playground and water fountains are not to be used during Phase II of the re-opening.
I recognize these regulations might seem onerous to some of you. We are trying to be good stewards of our health and the health of others during this time of increasing contact with each other. Like you I look forward to the time when we can worship and socialize more freely. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to call, text or email me or any of our vestry members. We appreciate your patience as we try to navigate the “new normal” during the re-opening under Phase II of the Bishop’s Diocesan plan.
The Rev. Stephanie Pace