Dean Letter: Returning to Church

Hello St. Paul’s,

In just a few days we will begin our journey into Holy Week, and I hope you will find it meaningful even though, once again, our observance will be virtual.

Before that, however, I want to share some exciting news with you. With the pandemic restrictions easing, our regathering task force has set a date for us to return to the Cathedral building for a Sunday Communion service. That date is April 11, the Second Sunday of Easter, and the time is 10:30. Not everyone will be willing or able to participate in the in-person service, so we will continue our online offerings as we are now, with Morning Prayer at 8 and 10:30, the Spanish service at 1 pm, and Evensong at 5.

We are starting very cautiously, knowing that we can expand as our confidence grows and as restrictions continue to loosen. We want to be very sure that everyone is safe, and that the staff aren’t overwhelmed. You should know that we will not be able to replicate our beautiful liturgy at first: there will be no choral singing or processions, and we will be administering only the bread at Communion.

Here’s how April 11 will go.

Just as we do now, we will pre-record the spoken parts of Morning Prayer, including the sermon, during the week, and edit together a complete service with archive recordings.

The 8:00 service, forum, and coffee hour will take place on Zoom just as they do now.

Those who wish to attend the Communion service will register online in advance. Registration for each Sunday will open the Thursday prior. If you are willing to serve as an usher, acolyte, sound tech, or altar guild, please contact the relevant coordinator. There will be a cap of 70 attendees, including those who serve in specific roles. This number is dictated by the number of people who can be safely distanced in the Great Hall. It’s recommended that we gather in any given indoor space for no more than 45 minutes before vacating and allowing the air to fully exchange, so we will begin the service in the Great Hall and then move to the Cathedral for Communion.

Those who have pre-registered will sign in and have their temperature checked at the door. Please double-mask, as our bishop instructs, and please don’t come if you don’t feel well.

At 10:30 we will begin the service in the Great Hall, where we will join with the online cathedral community in watching the Morning Prayer service on the big screen, through the sermon.

At the end of the sermon, we will process into the Cathedral. The offering will be taken at the door. This part of the service will not, at least initially, be live-streamed, as the Morning Prayer service will be continuing online for those at home. Once everyone is distributed around the nave, we will join in the Creed, the Prayers of the People, and the Great Thanksgiving. Communion, in one kind only, will be distributed with minimal contact.

At Communion time, the consecrated host will be placed in individual cups on trays, on tables in front of the communion rail. The congregation will come forward, keeping masks on, take a cup, and return to your seat before unmasking and consuming the host. When the service is over, you will deposit the cups in special containers so that the altar guild can rinse them and dispose of them appropriately.

I am very grateful to Cherie Dean for offering sign language interpretation in person. If you require this service, you’ll want to sit at the front on the north side.

If you are unable to sign up because all the spots are taken, please don’t show up on Sunday, but please do let clergy know. If the service is wildly over-subscribed we will try to find an equitable way to let everyone participate who wants to.

I very much hope that we will soon be able to expand this service and gradually restore our distinctive liturgy. I hope you’ll be patient with us as we work this out.

May you know the height and depth of God’s love for you in this Holy Week. See you on Palm Sunday.

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3 thoughts on “Dean Letter: Returning to Church”

  1. Well, it’s a start and certainly better than not having anything. I am rather mystified as to why restaurants and bars are in operation without reservations (although inside seating is restricted) along with stores like COSTCO where anyone can simply walk right in while we have to limit would-be attendees.

  2. For the 10:30 service on Easter 2, I hope that in the count up to 70, a cohabiting couple is counted as 1 with the expectation that they will sit close together (so as to preserve the distancing requirement). Counting two-fers the 25% of capacity rule would then limit the number of bodies to about 150. That is 70 pods with a maxiumum of 150 individuals.

    — Bill

    P.S. As to Robert’s comment, I think that stores like Costco are, in principle, counting people in the store in order to conform to the 25% of capacity rule.


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