To the saints at Church of the Epiphany-Tempe:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and our savior Jesus Christ. I pray that you continue to practice a safety first approach as we continue to hope for the end of this pandemic! I have been heartened to see many of you return to in-person worship, and I look forward to seeing many more of you joining us for in-person worship as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last week, our Bishop announced new guidelines for parishes. The new guidelines included the ability for us to begin singing while indoors, receiving communion in both kinds, and an update on our capacity for indoor worship. I am writing to share with you what you can expect at Church of the Epiphany in response to the Bishop’s guidelines.
Masks, Social Distancing, and Check-in
As we move forward, masks and social distancing will continue to be required at Church of the Epiphany. We will also continue to ask you to check in with our greeters when you arrive for worship. Until we hear from the Bishop’s office that these practices can be relaxed, we will continue to use them as ways to love one another when we gather around Christ’s table.
Indoors Worship Capacity
The new guidelines offer us the ability to increase our worship capacity to up to 50% of a room’s capacity. Beginning this Sunday, we will increase our seating capacity to 100 people for each worship service. We will continue to stress the importance of social distancing, and we will continue to keep half of the pews closed for seating.
Beginning on Sunday, we can give thanks to God for being able to sing in worship again! We will see our choir return through Pentecost Sunday after which they will pivot to their normal summer practice of a few volunteers for any given Sunday. The words for our hymns will be provided in the bulletins, and you are encouraged to sing!
Communion in Both Kinds
On Sunday, May 2, you will have an option to receive Holy Communion in both kinds but only by intinction of the bread into the wine. We ask that when you receive your bread, you dip the bread into the wine by going straight down into the chalice. Please do not swirl or swish the bread around in the chalice. After receiving the host and wine via intinction, we ask that you continue the practice of waiting to consume until you have returned to your seat.
We continue to grow in faith, hope, and love as we emerge from this pandemic. It has been a long 14 months, and we are all more than ready for things to return to something that resembles normal. However, it is also important that we continue to practice safe guidelines when we gather.
Thank you for all the ways that you have shown up throughout this pandemic. Our parish could not have managed all the changes we had to observe without your patience and willingness to support our ministries in different ways. I look forward to seeing what we are able to do as we discern how God is calling us forward in faith, hope, and love as we emerge even more fully from this pandemic.
May God continue to bless you and keep you,