Dear St. Paul’s Community:
St. Paul’s continues to adapt to the needs of the Parish during this difficult time. Over the past several weeks, Noah, Laura and the Reopening Committee carefully developed a multi-phased plan for resuming in-person worship. The survey results helped inform this plan and we thank everyone who participated. The Vestry has reviewed and approved the process with the primary objective of keeping our clergy, staff, and congregation safe and well while continuing the mission of the Church. The plan also has been submitted to the Diocese.
Even though Allegheny County has graduated to “Green” under Governor Wolf’s “Process to Reopen Pennsylvania,” which permits our church to reopen for in-person worship, Covid-19 still poses a significant threat. Every day there are new cases in Western Pennsylvania. For those who are not comfortable with in-person worship, St. Paul’s will continue to offer Sunday services streamed online, meetings for social groups and clubs via Zoom, daily morning and evening prayer via Zoom, and no-contact Eucharistic visitations. The efforts St. Paul’s has taken over the past months to gather online or with social distancing will continue in parallel to re-introducing in-person worship.
The following are the four phases for resuming in-person worship:
Phase #1 - Worshipful Walks and Communion Appointments
Phase #2 - Outdoor Worship in St. Margaret's Garden and Old St. Luke’s Burial Grounds
Phase #3 – Sanctuary Worship during the week
Phase #4 – Sanctuary Worship on Sundays
Phase #1 will begin immediately with Worshipful Walks and Communion Appointments on Sundays. The Worshipful Walk is a short hike in a local park, which includes stops for readings and reflection including a celebration and sharing of the Eucharist. Communion Appointments will be available for members of your household to receive communion in the Sanctuary For each of these opportunities, those wishing to attend will need to register ahead of time. The Friday weekly email will include instructions and the link to sign-up for a designated time. Everyone will be asked to sanitize their hands when entering the building and wear a mask, and six-foot social distancing will be maintained.
We are so fortunate to have access to beautiful outdoor spaces. Phase #2 will begin soon with outdoor worship first at Old St. Luke’s Burial Grounds, and then, in St. Margaret’s Garden. Everyone will also need to register to attend a service. Similar to the Worshipful Walks and Communion Appointments, the Friday weekly email will include instructions for signing up and attending these services. To attend an outdoor worship service, each person will be expected to sanitize hands before sitting down, bring your own chair, wear a mask throughout the duration of the service and sit six feet apart from others in different households. Bathrooms will be for emergencies only. The expectations for outdoor services will be communicated in various ways and multiple times prior to the service.
Timing for offering Phases #3 and #4 will depend on several factors, including the success of outdoor worship, the Covid-19 situation in Allegheny County over the next several weeks, and general interest in worshiping in the Sanctuary. Furthermore, we will continue to seek feedback and modify Phases #1 and #2 depending on the safety and needs of the Parish. We are hopeful that these in-person worship opportunities will provide us with the personal connection we have missed over the past several months.
Careful and comprehensive thought has been given to ensure that the needs and desires of each and every member of our St. Paul’s community is considered. Caring for each other while offering a variety of opportunities to connect with God and with one another has been the priority. Thank you for your patience, understanding and support. There is much work remaining, and we look forward to doing it effectively and at a pace that keeps us all safe.
Thank you for your faithfulness at this time.
Noah Evans, Ginny Barnicoat, Geoff Hurd, Frank Horrigan, Jan Toth, Gina Brownfield, Meghan Clark, Kathleen Davies Hendricks, Mark Lamendola, John Sheehan, Ell Vines, Karen Melvin, Leigh Coogan
Frequently Asked Questions
Do we need to wear masks? Even if we are outside?
Yes. Mask wearing for adults and older children is mandatory for all St. Paul’s events. Following the guidance of the CDC, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Allegheny County and the Episcopal Diocese use of masks is key to mitigating the spread of COVID19. As people of faith, we wear masks out of concern for others. If you need a reusable mask, we can provide one for free from our St. Paul’s Mask Ministry.
Why is there no singing in services?
Following guidance of public health officials, singing is a well documented source of major spreading of COVID19. Given the current scientific data, we have determined that this is not a safe practice for our congregation at this time.
What is the recommendation for those more vulnerable to Covid19, ie: those over age 65, or those with underlying medical conditions?
The CDC and Commonwealth guidance is that older adults (65+) and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions continue to stay at home and avoid public gatherings. All attendance at services is at your own risk.
How will seating be arranged?
You will sit with members of your household. When you register, please include the number of people who will be attending with you.
How will we receive communion?
Communion, bread only, would be delivered to your seat in a cup, and then shared together amongst members of a household, no contact between server and receiver.
Will restrooms be available?
Due to the cleaning and sanitizing requirements, restrooms are available for emergencies only. They can only be used one person at a time.