FRANCISCO-FACT: Are we there yet? Yes, yes, we are!


Regathering has been on the minds of Franciscans, our church leadership, and our diocesan leadership since the suspension of in-person gatherings which commenced during March of last year. St. Francis’ leadership, having been reauthorized by Bishop Goff, in consultation with the diocesan staff, has determined that it is time to begin regathering and that will happen on Sunday, June 20, 2021, at 9:00 AM.

Concerns about the pandemic continue among public health officials and our elected leaders. Therefore, St. Francis will begin regathering with caution and in phases. Please, read the following for the whole story about our first steps in regathering. We will become normalized over a period, and we will be in-person.

Although this has been a taxing time we have also benefited from some new things. One of those new things is the ability to reach beyond our church to include folks from away, folks who are less mobile, and folks who cannot be with us. We are going to continue this custom and will be streaming our live service on June 20 and beyond. So, if you are not able or ready to come in person, know that we will be available via Zoom Meeting every Sunday.

St. Francis welcomes this return to normality in the supervision of our services and day to day operations. There will be Eucharist in celebration of this moment, according to the Proper 7 of the calendar as delineated in the Book of Common Prayer, 1979. We will also have a public blessing of our new altar table, constructed and installed during the pandemic, and a new pottery communion set donated during that same period. We give thanks to Bob MacKichan for his craftsmanship of the table and Molly Reynolds for the donation of the communion set from the proceeds of gifts given in honor of her mother.

Summary Guidelines for in Person Attendees:

  1. Attendees are asked to schedule their attendance through our church’s Sign-up Genius account accessed through our website. This will facilitate seating and contact tracing. Drop-ins are welcome to the extent that we have effective capacity for them, and they will be asked to sign-in for contact tracing purposes. Given this, members are encouraged to sign-up by the Saturday at 5:00 PM, the day before the service. That will allow the Rector and Ushers to develop a seating plan for the service.
  2. Printed Orders of Service will be available, and the attendees are asked to take them home to dispose of them.
  3. Attendees will be masked at all times while in the church, except for readers, who may remove their masks when speaking.
  4. Attendees will be seated in every other pew, with alternating pews blocked or roped off.
  5. Individuals will separate themselves from other individuals or PODs (PODs: household units who live together) by a minimum of three (3) feet.
  6. Congregation and choir may sing while masked.
  7. Passing of the Peace outside of a household POD can be done by waves and/or nods. Initially, physical contact, while in church, will be confined to household PODs.
  8. Communion will be distributed via bread only until further notice. The bread will be offered in paper cupcake containers and the communicant will take the bread and the container back to their pew for consumption. Trash containers will be in the narthex for disposal of the cupcake container.
  9. There will be coffee, only, offered in Millen Hall after the service and members may Zoom in to Coffee hour to connect with the online attendees. Wi-Fi is being made available to facilitate this connection.
  10. Attendees and Worship Leaders will not gather in the Narthex. They may continue to Millen Hall for in-person coffee hour.
  11. The Rector and Vestry encourage all who are medically able to receive the vaccine to take the vaccine. This is the best insurance that we will not pass the virus on to each other, and the best protection from the virus should exposure occur.

Summary Guidelines for Zoom Attendees:

  1. The in-church service will be available to the public via Zoom meeting. This is to facilitate continued connection for the those who have not been vaccinated, who are vaccinated and are still hesitant to return to an environment of higher risk to exposure, and for those who cannot attend for any other reason.
  2. Zoom attendees will be visible to in-person worshippers via flat-screen video monitor, and in-person worshippers will be visible to Zoom attendees via Zoom meeting.
  3. Zoom Coffee Hour will continue immediately following the service. We will encourage in-person participants to check-in via zoom. Participants may unmask when drinking their coffee.
  4. In-person attendees are encouraged to bring their smart phones or tablets so they may check-in to Zoom Coffee Hour.

Published by fr.david

Rector of St. Francis Church. Adopted son of the Old Dominion--Hampden-Sydney loving, Red Sox supporting, Burkean.

3 thoughts on “FRANCISCO-FACT: Are we there yet? Yes, yes, we are!

  1. Thank you and amen!! We are so looking forward to being back in church when we return from vacation!!

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