I want to let you know that, for the first time since March, we have the opportunity to share Communion on Christmas Eve, and on the first Sunday of the month going forward. In his most recent communication in mid-November, Bishop Gates asked churches to take a step back from in-person gatherings as the pandemic surges this winter and urged “grave concern and utmost caution”. However, in the same letter, he also stated that the sacrament of Holy Communion could be made available to parish members through the distribution of previously consecrated wafers. I think our Bishops recognize that this pandemic has gone on a very long time and that there is a pastoral need for people to have some way to receive the sacrament even when we can’t gather in person.
Your Regathering Team, wardens, and worship committee have all given me helpful input and advice on how to implement the Bishop’s permission. After considering a lot of alternatives, we’ve decided the best way is the simplest way—after you participate in the online worship service, we invite you to jump in your car, come to the church, and the clergy will be distributing Communion (wafers only, no wine) on the front steps of the church.
The clergy will carefully follow safety protocols to wash hands, wear a mask, wear gloves, and use a tongs for distributing Communion. We ask that you also wear a mask and, after receiving, move away to the church yard, perhaps for a moment of private prayer in the Labyrinth or Memorial Garden, before removing your mask to consume the host at least 6 feet away from others not from your household. Communion should be received at the church, not taken home. If you know of someone who can’t get to church and would like the clergy to bring them Communion at home, just let us know.
Writing this all down makes me realize how different this is from “how it used to be”. We will get back there! Hearing the wonderful vaccine news makes me hopeful that we will gather again for “normal” worship in person as early as spring or summer, perhaps. However, in the meantime, we will do the best we can to keep expanding opportunities for worship in a safe way and within the guidelines we’ve been given.
We plan to distribute Communion after the 8pm service on Christmas Eve, from approximately 9pm to 10pm on the church steps. We’ll continue doing so on the first Sunday of the month beginning January 3, from 10:30am to 12:00pm or so. Please let us know if you need more time to get to church and we can extend the time. We will try to schedule adult forum, Atrium, etc. to not coincide. If the first few times are successful and well attended, we may expand it beyond just once a month.
I’m looking forward to Christmas now more than ever! Hope I get to wish you Merry Christmas in person, and to share Communion with you.