Dear Members and Friends,
We have very exciting and joyous news! After fifteen months away, we will be returning to St. John’s for in-person liturgies. We will resume our regular weekly schedule on Sunday, June 20, at 6:30 PM. Our Pride liturgy will be held at St. John’s on the following Sunday, June 27, at 6:30 PM. This is a change from our past tradition of holding our Pride service on the Saturday evening of Pride weekend, which we anticipate will be for this year only.
We have heard your voices in our recent online survey and the virtual town hall meeting. A majority of our members are eager to return to in-person services, but many are also mindful of the online community that has formed during the pandemic. We thank the Liturgy Committee for their tremendous efforts in producing our online Zoom liturgies every single week since March 15, 2020. We are looking at ways to bring some aspects of the Zoom liturgies to St. John’s, and to allow online participants to see and hear what is happening there. We anticipate this will be an evolving situation, and we will need a committed team of volunteers to help run the technology.
We are required to follow all the safety measures that remain in place at St. John’s. We must wear masks indoors at all times and sit in designated spots for social distancing. The windows will be kept open as much as possible. Capacity is currently limited to 40 people in the pews, sitting either singly or in groups of 2, so we will be asking you to reserve a spot in advance by email.
There will be three options: sitting by yourself, sitting with another person of your choice, or being willing to sit with another person from the congregation in order to maximize capacity. There is a limited overflow capacity of 8 seats in the common room. Walk-ins will be permitted if space is available, but they will need to provide contact information in the event contact tracing is necessary. You will receive more information about reserving seats soon.
We all look forward to raising our voices in song, but for the time being we will need to keep our masks on while singing (except for the choir). There will be some other adjustments, as well. The sign of peace will be by wave. (Hugs before and after liturgy are up to you, but please respect everyone’s comfort level.)
Communion will be in the form of bread only, and only in the hand, given by a single presider or eucharistic minister who will visibly wash their hands before the consecration. We will process to the altar slightly differently and stand in designated spots around the sanctuary to receive Communion.
There will be hand sanitizer at the door. Since touch has now been determined by the CDC to have a low risk of transmission, we will be using our regular hymnals and paper materials as needed. Name tags will be offered but will be optional as always. The collection will be taken using our regular baskets, as before.
During the warm weather months, we will hold the social in the courtyard. We do not need to wear masks there, and we can serve both food and drink outside. If we move into the common room because of bad weather, we must continue to wear masks, and drinks only may be served.
We know from our survey that we are a heavily vaccinated community, at or very close to 100%. We know that infection rates in the city and region have fallen to very low levels. So far, the vaccines have been shown to be extremely effective against infection and severe illness. Given all that, plus the strong safety measures still in place at St. John’s, we are confident that the environment will be very safe for worship and socializing. Although we do not currently plan to ask anyone for proof of vaccination, we strongly urge anyone who has not yet received a vaccine to do so, for their own protection as well as that of the entire community.
We look forward to seeing you at our Zoom liturgies on June 7 and June 13, and then in person on June 20 at St. John’s (we hope with a Zoom link to the service available also). We will be in touch again soon about reserving seats. Feel free to contact any member of the Steering Community if you have questions or concerns.
We know that many of us are returning to St. John’s with mixed emotions, and have suffered illness, financial difficulties, and the loss of loved ones during the pandemic. We look forward to renewing our ties in person and sustaining one another through the traditions of our faith as we celebrate, grieve, and move forward into our 49th year as a community.
The Steering Committee of Dignity/New York
Chris Alberti, Larry Caputo, Andrew Jones, Danny Larkin, Tom McLoughlin, James Osbourn, Lewis Speaks-Tanner, and Jeff Stone