August—Outdoor Communion Services.
For the next month, we will be experimenting with some outdoor worship. We will continue to livestream our main service on Sunday at 10:30 am for as long as necessary. However, as I noted in my July update, we are now ready to begin experimenting with other ways of gathering, safely, and in-person, and with the added benefit that the diocese has granted us permission to resume Holy Communion—with several modifications for health and safety. I want to stress that these additional services are 100% voluntary. Tammy and I will take on the responsibility of guiding people into and out of the garden, seating them, and leading the service; there will be no need for lay ushers or readers at these services. The Altar Guild will assist behind the scenes following diocesan guidelines.
These experimental, additional services can not, and will not, take the place of our regular Sunday service, but my hope is they will provide some additional sustenance to us as we prepare to enter the fall leg of this marathon, and will help us prepare for the time when we can meet together again on Sunday morning in the church.
As we have done all along, we are approaching this carefully, being aware of our need to prioritize the most vulnerable in our community, and in ways that are both scientifically grounded and consistent with our Anglican/Episcopal tradition. In terms of public health, every reputable source stresses that certain practices are vital to curtailing the transmission of the COVID-19 virus. These are:
- Properly wearing clean, well-fitting masks.
- Avoiding crowds (i.e., not crowding together…a group of 6 that is very close to each other is more dangerous than a group of 25 that is observing physical distancing).
- Remaining physically distant (at least 6 feet) from one another.
In addition, experts confirm that the emerging science is clear: outside is safer than inside, well-ventilated is safer than poorly ventilated, and everyone needs to wash their hands thoroughly and often, and stay home if you are sick. Unfortunately, it is also clear that singing together remains a high-risk activity.
It is true, as I write this on 13 August, that the number of COVID-19 cases in the whole Commonwealth of Massachusetts has been creeping up; however, the number of cases in Brookline remains low. Nevertheless, many in our All Saints community come from towns well outside of Brookline and we must take this into account as well. The number of cases in Norfolk and Suffolk counties means that we must be vigilant and extremely cautious, and should conditions move in a negative direction we will return to no in-person meetings. When deciding whether or not to come to an in-person service, please take into account where you live, as well as your other risk factors. We all know that we are nowhere near the end of this pandemic. Still, given all this, many of us feel that we can now be together (masked, at a distance, without singing, in small groups, outside) and that doing so will not merely supplement our online Sunday morning worship, but will give us much needed sustenance for the journey ahead.
We will and must continue livestreaming our main Sunday service because:
- not everyone will be able to attend an in person service—people in high-risk groups are strongly encouraged to remain safer at home, and we must continue to support and sustain them in ways that do not jeopardize their health.
- the livestreamed service (with no congregation) allows us to continue programming music for that service which is so important to the spiritual health of this community—until we are able to sing together, livestreaming is the best and safest way of providing the excellent music that sustains so many here.
- The sermon is easier to hear and see on a livestream.
We are experimenting with other ways of gathering safely because we want to:
- share a short service of Holy Communion and be nourished by Christ in bread and wine (we will consecrate both bread and wine, but Communion will be bread only—Christ is fully present in both!).
- safely check-in with one another in person and be nourished by the Body of Christ that is the embodied church.
- discover even more ways of being church together and separately.
What will an outdoor, in-person service be like?
- Each service will be capped at 25 participants.
- You must pre-register. This link will take you to the list of all the upcoming services, where you can sign up.
- You must complete the health and wellness screening certification prior to coming.
- Masks must be worn at all times (except for receiving Communion, and/or for medical reasons).
- Please bring your own chairs, blankets, and hand sanitizer. We will have some chairs and hand sanitizer on hand, but it would be preferable for everyone to bring their own.
- The lawn will be marked at 6’ intervals, and Richard and/or Tammy will direct you where to sit.
- The service will be a short service of Holy Communion, using a form from Iona. There will be an opening prayer, a reading from the day’s Gospel, a very short homily (different than the one preached on Sunday morning), then the Eucharistic Prayer and Communion following diocesan guidelines. There will be no pre or post service gatherings. There will be no hymns. We will use our portable microphone and amplifier, but we cannot guarantee that the audio will be perfectly audible for everyone.
- Bathrooms on the main floor of All Saints will be available. Only one person at a time.
- There will be no ushers. Please follow the directions of the clergy as you enter and exit, and for receiving Communion.
- In case of rain, we will move into the sanctuary.
- Please continue to mail in your pledges, or make donations online.
August/September Holy Communion Dates:
Beginning this Sunday, 16 August, and continuing through 14 September we will have a total of 13 Communion services. Each is capped at 25 people, but this means that everyone who might wish to attend could do so and receive Holy Communion at least twice. Please pre-register for the services here.
- Sunday, 16 August, 8:30 am Family Church
- Sunday, 16 August, 6:00 pm Evening Service
- Wednesday, 19 August, 6:00 pm, Feast of Bernard of Clairvaux
- Sunday 23 August, 8:30 am Family Church
- Sunday 23 August, 1:00 pm Afternoon Communion Service
- Thursday, 27 August, 6:00 pm, Feast of Monnica of Hippo
- Sunday, 30 August, 8:30 am Family Church
- Monday, 31 August, 6:00 pm, Feast of David Oakerhater
- Wednesday, 2 September, 6:00 pm, Feast of Martyrs of New Guinea
- Sunday, 6 September, 8:30 am Family Church
- Sunday 6 September, 7:00 pm, Sung Compline (not Communion—this is our monthly service, which we will either livestream or, if possible, allow a small number of participants into the service, stay tuned).
- Wednesday, 9 September, 6:00 pm, Feast of Thecla, et al.
- Sunday, 13 September, 8:30 am, Family Church
- Monday, 14 September, 6:00 pm, Feast of the Holy Cross
At home communion, and pastoral visits
Again, I want to stress that the diocese reminds us that, “those who are at higher risk for serious complications from COVID-19 are strongly encouraged to remain safer at home and to refrain from attending in-person worship services or church activities,” and until the threat posed by COVID-19 is truly gone, our bishops are discouraging pastoral visits at homes, hospitals or nursing care centers except when it is deemed pastorally necessary. Therefore, if you are unable, or feel it is unsafe for you to attend an in-person service for health reasons, and would still like to receive communion, please be in touch and we will work together to arrange a way to accomplish this in the safest way possible following diocesan guidelines.
If you have any questions or concerns about any of this please do not hesitate to contact me. I hope to see many of you in person, and look forward to continuing to connect with you online. Together we continue to rise to the challenges of this time, and with God’s help and guidance we will move together into God’s future.