The Plan to Reopen



Dear Servants of Christ,
Yesterday morning on the staff Zoom call I remarked at how incredibly gracefully you as a congregation have handled this season in our lives as a community. Thank you for the trust you have in me and the vestry/staff as we make decisions that are best for the congregation. Thank you also for how well you are loving one another in word and deed during this time. Jody and I were blessed to join the Zoom Soaking Prayer night last Tuesday and marveled at the Body of Christ, as we moved through the stages of Zoom Soaking Prayer. The time was rich and we received much needed prayer for Jody’s allergy attack. (I am happy to report she is much better.) This is just one example of where I see you as the Body of Christ ministering to one another.
By my calculations, we have just finished our eighth Sunday of online services. The portion of weeks prior to Easter was an adjustment; after Easter I sensed people moving into the rhythm of quarantine life, and now just as we are wrapping up the school year, here comes the news of reopening. I am certain that Governor DeSantis’s announcement on May 4th struck some of you as premature and others felt it was about time.
I want to address re-opening with you today. At the prompting of Bishop Neil, the emergency operation team began meeting to discuss what our phases one to three plans would look like whenever it was appropriate. Just to remind you, Daryl Johnston, Emily Wilson, and Dr. Jim Moulthrop have graciously served with me on this team. In addition, we have sought council of others in the parish who have expertise in this area.
Linked below you will find the work of three meetings of our team, plus the input of our vestry and staff. Before you turn to that plan, I would like begin with a few points. First, please remember that we are new at all of this so expect that there will be a learning curve. From week to week, we will no doubt learn what does and doesn’t work. As you have been gracious so far, I would ask that you continue to give grace to one another.
Second, please know that the leadership team does not intend to offend anyone but enviably some of us will be offended or offend others. If you are not wearing a mask or maintaining social distance, expect to be reminded. Also, if you are not feeling well, please stay home. If someone offends you, please keep short accounts and seek to forgive.
Third, for some of you our plan will seem excessive, for others it will seem too loose. That is the difficulty we have to face. I would commend to you that making someone else feel safe to return to church can be a very practical way of expressing love for our neighbor during this season. Some of you will be looking for restrictions that you might wish were here but are not. From my days as a commercial underwriter, I learned controlling all potential liability was impossible. If you have a business, someone can potentially get harmed. Instead of trying to eliminate exposures, we were taught rather to ‘manage risk.’ I believe this plan does just that, it manages the potential risk of the virus. That fact will mean that some of you will need to hold back from phase one or two participation in church. I would even go so far as to discourage vulnerable persons within the congregation from attending in phase one and two. To that end, the staff is working hard to ensure our online experience remains quality even after the reopening begins.
Having said all that, I ask that you review the plan. There will be several opportunities to discuss and ask questions; Emily Wilson will be joining me to answer questions. You may join our Wednesday night Zoom call 6:30-7:30. The link has been sent via email; contact if you wish to be added to our emailing list.
Tentatively, we are working towards our first Phase One service to be Sunday, May 31st (Pentecost Sunday). I emphasize that this is a tentative date because the next couple of weeks will show us how the state and our county reopening affects the rate of infection. We will also have a lot of work to do to train ushers, greeters, and the parish as a whole.
God bless you all as we continue to walk this way together and I ask your prayers for our leadership at the diocesan and parish level as we seek to make decisions for the well-being of our congregation. Know that I am praying for you all, and I am always available for individual conversation.


Reopening Plan


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