SAFETY PROTOCOLS FOR ATTENDING WORSHIP

 

  1. If you are frail or feeling unwell; have had a fever within the previous 48 hours; or are being treated for a serious illness, you should not attend worship. That urgent advice will likely remain in effect until a vaccine against the coronavirus becomes available (which we pray will happen soon).
  2. As the CDC reminds us, even younger, healthy people who choose to gather for corporate worship do so at their own risk. Please don’t come to church if it will make you uncomfortable, fearful or anxious. We don’t want anyone to feel that way about attending services. Nor do we want anyone to feel guilty about staying home a bit longer. You can return to worship whenever you’re ready.
  3. Current regulations require that our maximum attendance be limited to 22 worshipers at each service. We must therefore ask everyone who plans to attend worship on Sunday to make a reservation by leaving a phone message at the parsonage (718-366-9231) no later than the Friday before. When you call, please be sure to give the names of all the persons in your party.  New York City is now requiring this procedure in case contact tracing is necessary. It will also help me to know how many bulletins to print and how much bread and wine to set out for the Eucharist.
  4. The gates and doors will be opened at 10:00 A.M., and the building will be locked promptly at 10:30 when the service begins. Please understand that we cannot unlock the doors to admit latecomers. It is therefore absolutely imperative that you arrive at Emmaus before 10:30 A.M. In view of the even worse than usual parking situation in the neighborhood, you’ll want to come early and give yourself plenty of time to find a spot.
  5. Before entering the church, you MUST put on a mask that covers BOTH YOUR MOUTH AND YOUR NOSE, and keep it on while you’re in the building. You will, of course, have to slide it away from your mouth for a brief moment to receive Holy Communion, and then replace it immediately. Because I’ll be standing or sitting at least 12 feet away from anyone else (that’s why several pews in front of the pulpit and the lectern will be roped off), I will not wear a mask during most of the liturgy. If I did, you wouldn’t be able to hear me, especially with the air conditioner running. I will, however, wear a mask when I distribute Holy Communion.
  6. We’ll be required to observe the 6-foot social distancing rule at all times. (The only exception, once again, will be when you briefly stand in front of me to receive the Blessed Sacrament.) With regard to seating, this means that there must be 6 feet of open space in all directions between yourself and other individuals or families. Please note, too, that the organ loft will be reserved for our organist and her family.
  7. In order to minimize personal contact, there will be no ushers on duty. Bulletins for the current Sunday, along with copies of Portals of Prayer and Strength for the Day, will be available on the shelf in the narthex so that you can help yourself.
  8. Please bring your own hand sanitizer for use during the service. There will also be a bottle of hand sanitizer available in the narthex, as well as a small supply of masks.
  9. The cloak room/cry room will be closed indefinitely because it’s too confined a space for social distancing. If you wish to bring a jacket, bag or umbrella, please take it with you into your pew. Also, there will be no waste basket in the narthex. Whatever you carry in, you’ll have to carry out.
  10. Instead of running both the air conditioner beside the altar and the one in the cloak room, during the service we’ll be using only the unit in the chancel. We’ll also open the windows in the office and block the return vent beside the altar so that the unit will be forced to draw in fresh air from outside. To allow for even more ventilation, we’ll open the windows in the nave as well. The building won’t be as cool as it normally would be, but the ventilation will be greatly improved since we won’t be recirculating the air within the church.
  11. For several months, there will be no singing at the services.  The liturgy will be entirely spoken (like our morning Masses during Holy Week), and the only music will be the organ prelude, offertory and postlude.
  12. There will be no passing of the peace. The pastor and the congregation will verbally exchange the Pax Domini immediately after the Lord’s Prayer.
  13. Because the 6-foot rule would allow only two people at a time to kneel at the altar rail, we will not use the rail for the distribution of Holy Communion. Instead, the Sacrament will be administered in a continuous line at the bottom of the chancel steps, in much the same way as the ashes are distributed on Ash Wednesday.
  14. The pulpit (south) side of the nave will commune first, followed by the lectern (north) side. Communicants will come forward in single file down the center aisle, receive the Sacrament, and return to their seats by the side aisles. Strips of blue tape on the floor, spaced 6 feet apart, will help those waiting in line to maintain social distancing.
  15. The method of administering the Eucharist will be intinction (I will dip the consecrated host into the chalice and place it on the communicant’s tongue), so that mine will be the only hands that come into contact with the Lord’s body and blood. Please note that I will sanitize my hands both before and during the distribution.
  16. After the final dismissal (“Go in peace; serve the Lord.” “Thanks be to God.”), please take your bulletin with you and leave the building quickly and quietly. It’s important not to gather for conversation in the aisles, the narthex or the office. Socializing can more safely be done outdoors on the sidewalk. If you need to speak with me for more than a few moments, please phone me later at the parsonage.
  17. For the time being, so that only one person handles the sacred vessels before and after the Mass (another recommendation from the CDC), I myself will set up the altar for Holy Communion; wash and store the vessels afterward; and launder and iron the sacramental linens. When our situation improves, I’ll be happy to return those duties to the ladies of the altar guild.
  18. Because the tables in the parish hall don’t meet current social distancing requirements, there will be no Bible study until further notice. For the same reason we will not be able to hold our annual Reformation Luncheon this year.

Pastor John A. Stoudt