Dear Christ Church Family,

We are writing to provide an update on the planning for re-opening Christ Church, and some joyful news for re-introducing communion into our virtual worship services.

The Re-opening Task Force continues to meet and is taking a hopeful, yet measured, approach to the many complex considerations of this decision, balancing the health and safety of all the members of our community with our desire to physically gather for worship as one body in our beloved sanctuary.

Our deliberations are being informed by both the Diocesan and Montgomery County restrictions. Even as we remain in Phase One as defined by the Diocese, i.e. no live in-person gatherings, we anticipate that its stipulations, along with the County’s, may be changing in the next few weeks.

We must submit a plan for phased re-opening to the Bishop for approval, and the Task Force has decided the following with regard to in–person worship at Christ Church:

1.    Although Montgomery County has entered re-opening Phase 2, which allows for houses of worship to “have limited indoor and outdoor services with 1 congregant/family per 200 sq. ft.,” we have decided to submit a plan to the Diocese for resuming in-person services only after Montgomery County moves into Phase 3.

2.    In Phase 3 in Montgomery County, the required square footage drops to 100 sq. ft per person/household. This would allow for 40 people to be in the sanctuary together (including officiant and organist).

3.    When we decide to move forward with in-person services, we will have a sign-up process for the limited number of households who will be able to attend in person.

4.    We will move forward provided that the church is “ready” as follows:
a.  Signage in place to aid with social distancing
b.   Ushers re-trained, and personal protective equipment.
(masks, gloves and sanitizer) are available.
c.    Cleaning protocol in place.
d.   Communications & Wi-Fi systems are upgraded to support
live-streaming of all in- person services

5.    In addition, per the Diocese’s requirements, everyone who plans to attend in-person services will be required to sign the Covenant for Regathering in Worship, which requires among other things that everyone wears a mask while attending in-person services.

6.    Kitchens, pantries and food preparation areas will remain closed for the foreseeable future, and clergy will not be shaking hands at the back of the church.

7.     Those who are at high risk of infection are advised to consider their own health before coming to church. Those who are ill are asked to remain at home. The final plan will include detailed instructions for attendance, including what to expect, how to sign up, etc.

8.    While we await the time when we can gather for in-person services, we have created a plan to reintroduce communion into our worship. “At-home” communion kits will be made available to all who would like them, containing pre-consecrated individual servings of the sacrament and instructions. They will be available for pick-up from the church, or delivered to you by request if you cannot pick one up.

a.    There will be a Celebration of Holy Eucharist on July 12 when we will livestream the worship service and at the time of distribution, consume the pre-consecrated sacrament together – a true communion! There will also be a video of Emily consecrating the individual communion cups for those who cannot join in the live service but wish to have communion.
b.   A detailed email specifically about the July 12 service will go out next week. Communion kits will be available for pick-up July 9, 10 and 11 from the church parking lot. You’ll get details on how to sign up for a pick up time. Requests for delivery may be made through the office. This will be our pilot for what will be a monthly virtual celebration!

9.    Until we can all return safely, we will continue offering virtual church in some capacity.

We all wish we were able to gather together in our beloved sanctuary, but that’s not possible right now. These measures are for the health and well-being of all in our community and are a concrete way of loving our neighbors. As always, we welcome your feedback as we navigate this season of life at Christ Church.

With hope and soap!

Kurt Ellison   Cynthia Mitchell      Emily Guthrie