I’m excited to share the plans we are making as we begin to gather again in person! I know that some of us are eager to gather, while others will remain hesitant for some time to come. Our goal is to ensure that all can experience joyful, spiritually rich worship, education, and fellowship at their own comfort level. Please remain patient as there may be changes week to week, month to month, as we find our way in this new era.

The Vestry approved protocols for indoor gatherings on April 13, and they have been sent to the Bishop for approval. Our protocols are in accordance with diocesan guidance, which is more stringent than State guidance. For instance, in the orange tier, we will gather at no more than 25% of capacity.

Worship plans
We will continue our 10 am Zoom worship, followed by Zoom coffee hour. When our indoor protocols are approved and we have enough people willing to support indoor services (ushers, readers, Altar Guild, etc.), we will add a 9 am indoor service that will include Eucharist. Sign-ups will be required as we have limited capacity. Communion will be offered in one kind only (bread). We have moved the furniture around in the chancel to create a more COVID-friendly space for all. (see photo above) The altar has been moved to the front, and I will serve communion at the base of the steps; you will just walk up the center aisle to receive, and return via the side aisle to your seat. For those who worship on Zoom but wish to receive communion, I will be happy to arrange pick-up or delivery.

Groups and fellowship opportunities
While we will not have in-person coffee hour, at least at first, those who wish to join the Zoom coffee hour are most welcome!

Groups who wish to meet indoors may begin to do so, when the protocols are approved, but remaining online completely or partially is perfectly acceptable, too. I envision a future where some groups meet online, some in person, and some a little of both.

I am hosting a series of “welcome back gatherings” that will be held in the courtyard. These will be opportunities to catch up and get used to being together in person again. It might feel very strange at first for some! We will not be serving food or drink so bring whatever you need. The first one will be Sunday, May 2, from 4 – 4:45 pm. Please email me to sign up (rector@stmarysbythesea.org).

Last, please mark Sunday, May 23, noon to 2 pm on your calendar for a special Pentecost picnic. I’m not exactly sure what it will look like, but we hope to welcome many of you for outdoor fellowship and fun. If you’d like to be part of the team to plan and make it happen, please contact Sarah Schramm (sarah.s.schramm@gmail.com)

I remain so grateful for this call and to be in ministry with this wonderful community. I am excited about our future, and look forward to seeing some of you in person soon. A reminder that we expect that all who are eligible to be vaccinated will do so as quickly as possible. And even after you are vaccinated, you will be required to wear a mask and maintain appropriate distance from others when at St. Mary’s. I am sure many of you have questions and concerns about our next steps in this transition. Please reach out to me by email or phone (831-373-4441 x11) if you’d like to talk.