All indoor services resume

21 Oct

Dear brothers and sisters,

Christ is in our midst!

All liturgical services will resume inside of our church building, beginning Saturday, March 27, 2021, with strict public health safety protocols in place due to the ongoing COVID-19 virus pandemic. (The Liturgy is also continuing to be live-streamed on our parish’s Facebook Page.)

COVID-19 restrictions require modifications of our church routines, with the aim of minimizing touching of surfaces and movement within the church. I ask for your understanding and patience as we work out practical procedures to protect each other’s health in accordance with guidelines from the civil authorities.

Vespers and all other services are being live-streamed only, for the time being.

Please note: By entering the church you are acknowledging that you are aware of and agree to follow the below guidelines; represent that you are in good health; and assume the risk of becoming ill.

Yours in Christ, Fr. John Jillions, Pastor

Where to enter the church for Divine Liturgy

Please use the back entrance to the church when you arrive. Designated doorkeepers for each service will make sure to understand all procedures and commit to arriving early to greet congregants. The doorkeepers will greet each household one at a time; you must wait your turn to enter the church. The doorkeepers are responsible for ensuring that the following health and safety instructions are observed for the good of both our parish and the surrounding community.

How to enter the church for Divine Liturgy

THESE PRECAUTIONS MUST BE TAKEN:

  • If you currently have COVID-19 and have not recovered, or if you are presenting symptoms of it, you must refrain from attending.
  • If you are caring for someone who either has been diagnosed with or who is presenting symptoms of COVID-19, you must refrain from attending.(View common symptoms of COVID-19 here.)
  • If you are a vulnerable individual—that is, a senior citizen in frail health or a person who has a serious underlying health condition such as high blood pressure, chronic lung disease, diabetes, obesity, asthma, or a compromised immune system—you are highly encouraged to stay safe at home and to follow liturgical services online.
  • We will keep a written record of who is attending services, in case there are outbreaks of the virus within our community that necessitate contact tracing.
  • You must wear a mask upon approaching a doorkeeper and upon entering the church, and you must be checked with a non-contact thermometer prior to entering. (The state of Connecticut has provided such a thermometer to all congregations). In the event that you exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 after attending a service, others who were in attendance at that same service will be notified that they should quarantine for 14 days.
  • Please park your car after 8:30 a.m. in our church parking lot, and then proceed to the back entrance of the church for a temperature check, name recording for contact tracing, and hand sanitizing.
  • You may purchase candles inside, using the honor system. (No change will be given.)
  • An usher will guide you to an available seat and will place a candle for you, if you so desire. You may sit with members of your same household in a group, but you will need to sit at least six feet apart from others who are not of your own household.

How to conduct yourself during Divine Liturgy

THESE RULES OF CONDUCT MUST BE OBSERVED:

  • Please bring your own personal hand sanitizer. (This will be appreciated since the parish has limited supplies.)
  • No one over the age of 5 is permitted to attend the indoor services without a mask, with two exceptions for children:
    • Children under the age of two should not wear masks; and
    • Parents should judge for children between the ages of two and five whether or not they should wear a mask.
  • Please cover your sneezes and coughs.
  • The choir will be limited to a small number of people each week, standing in the choir loft, 6 feet apart from each other.
  • Please refrain from congregational singing.  Congregants will softly recite only the Creed and the Lord’s Prayer together at the appropriate times.
  • We will not pass the collection plate; instead collections plates will remain at the entrance and the exit, so you may leave donations as you either enter or exit the church.
  • We will use multiple metal spoons (one per person) for distributing Holy Communion. While waiting for Communion, please maintain your social distance from others. Individual tissues will be made available for reception of the Eucharist. While in line to receive Communion, take a tissue and wait to approach the chalice until the person in front of you has moved away. After receiving the Eucharist, wipe your lips with the tissue and place it in the container for that purpose. (These will be burned afterwards.) After the reception of Holy Communion, no blessed bread or wine (antidoron) will be provided.
  • We will not offer the blessing cross at the conclusion of Liturgy.

How to exit the church after Divine Liturgy

  • Please exit the church after the Liturgy by using the door on the far right front side of the church as you face the altar, unless it is necessary for you to use the chair lift that can be found through the door on the far left front side of the church as you face the altar.
  • We will offer no food or drinks after the Divine Liturgy, but you may bring your own “coffee hour” drink and socialize six feet apart outdoors on the grounds of Holy Ghost Church.

***

Changing practices due to the Corona Virus: guidance from our hierarchs

13 Mar

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Corona Virus ImageAs we live under the shadow of a pandemic due to the Corona Virus (COVID-19), we continue to realize that the disturbing spread of this virulent germ has significantly jarred not only the rhythm of our social life but also our church life.

To lead us through this period of change, we are receiving regular guidance from our hierarchs. Let me draw your attention to special communications issued by the Orthodox Church in America’s (OCA) Holy Synod of Bishops and Metropolitan Council and from our primate of the Orthodox Church in America and our presiding bishop here in the Diocese of New England, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon, regarding church regulations during the pandemic :

Let me also draw your attention to a common toolkit developed by the Assembly of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America that presents suggestions for a staged reopening of churches in the U.S.A. Although our parish will be developing and following its own particularly tailored plan to reopen, which eventually will need to receive the blessing by our ruling hierarch, Metropolitan Tikhon, this toolkit presents some helpful resources for consideration as we work on our own plan. It includes:

I know all of us are disheartened that we cannot attend the inspired liturgical services together. But, as Metropolitan Tikhon notes in one of his messages: “Others may worry that [these] directives will shatter our life in community and separate us from Church life. I would ask you to be mindful that these actions are taken for the sake of our brothers and sisters in Christ, and even for the larger community. This is an opportunity to sacrifice ourselves for the sake of the neighbor whom we love.”

Besides our own church services being held virtually, you may also wish to follow the daily services being live-streamed by the nuns from Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Ellwood City, PA: hereOn Sundays Akathist and Hours are served at 8:45 a.m. and Divine Liturgy is served at 9:00 a.m. Additionally, the nuns hold the following services Tuesday through Friday: 6:30 a.m.—Matins &1st Hour, Typica; noon—3rd, 6th & 9th Hours; 5:00 p.m.—Vespers and Compline (with an Akathist on Friday). On Saturday, Matins is at 7:30 a.m., Divine Liturgy is at 8:45 a.m., and Vigil is at 6:30 p.m. The monastery is closed on Mondays.

Finally, the OCA website has a very rich and helpful collection of online resources that you can use at home to continue your life of prayer at home during this time: See OCA resources here.

Please feel free to call me if you have questions or concerns: (203) 572–0026.

Yours in our Lord, Father John, Pastor

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