Once we are allowed to worship in person, what happens if we cannot fit in the church? What happens to Prayer Books and other familiar things that go along with the way we did things at St. Francis?
Our current reality is that when the Diocese approves the plan to worship in person again, we will not be able to have more than 57 members in the church at the same time, and that number depends on how many family PODs can fit together and still maintain the required socially distanced six feet in all directions.
The Rector, the Executive Committee, the Vestry, and the Staff are reflecting on some changes that will be part of our worship life after in-person worship is approved. The changes will likely be noticeable, and our commitment is to keep them from being disruptive.
What does this mean? Well, it probably means that you may see, a flat screen TV where the Hymns are now posted. They will be serving much the same purpose as Hymn Boards, communicating things about the service. They may also supplement our in-person connection by bringing streaming viewers into our sightlines at church. One of our hopes is that we can continue to connect Franciscans in much the same way that we have been connecting through COVID-19 streaming worship. This will be tricky technologically and personally, but the great sustainer of our past thirteen months has been our relationship with one another, the chance to reach out and chat as we gather, and to share with each other during Virtual Coffee Hour, which in many ways connected more people, just without hugs and handshakes.
Here are some things to think about in dealing with changes to our sanctuary setup. The Book of Common Prayer was a radical innovation in 1549 and again in 1552. It put the Church service in the vernacular of the people. Hymnals did the same thing and allowed new forms of music to be engaged by the congregation. And Hymn Boards were designed so anyone in the congregation could find the hymn. Our current hope is to make these changes to engage not only current worshippers but also worshippers we might like to welcome post lock-down. Since the experiments we are running are not governed by an act of Parliament we can be responsive and flexible. These are experiments!
More information on specific plans will be coming out as we get closer to implementation and regathering. In the meantime, we look forward to seeing you on Zoom or at outdoor church.