Dear Creator Family,
“Welcome Back” Sunday has been a tradition and a calendar staple for many Episcopal churches this time of year. The half dozen parishes I’ve been associated with in my ministry have always had one. And Creator is no different, especially with our “end of summer” rite of changing the service time and resuming Christian formation. In the past, I’ve resisted the idea, as if announcing that we all took a vacation from faithful living and weekly worship and have thought the starting of school to be a good time to come back to Church. I’ve wondered at times how our denomination adopted this practice in the first place.
This year, however, I have reason to put aside those musings and rejoice heartily for we are able, this Sunday, to host possibly the most momentous and meaningful—and certainly the strangest—“Welcome Back” Sunday in Creator’s history. At long last, we have the option to re-gather for in-person worship! Following a process of prayer, discernment and ensuring that we can meet the state and Diocesan guidelines, and then petitioning our Bishop to do so, we can now come together (with some protocols and procedures, as detailed below) to worship our Lord. I wish I could tell you that we will be in our Church building receiving the Holy Eucharist rather than on the Portico with Morning Prayer, but there is still joy in being together!
That being the case, there is no mandate for you to gather if you are uncomfortable with this format right now. Please give the matter some earnest thought and prayer, and let the Spirit guide you. Going forward, we will be recording all Sunday services, just as we have been since March. We have met online for 25 Sundays—close to six months—and this format is now a permanent part of our Sunday worship. As in other arenas these days—classrooms, offices, etc.—the “hybrid” model, where some are physically present while others attend remotely, is the new Body–and it works. If anything, it makes us all more aware of the connections no pandemic or other catastrophe can destroy. We are One. We sing it, we pray it, we believe it. Jesus told us we would be, whenever and wherever we gather in His name, together or separately, we are one in the Spirit. It is the unbreakable bond he made when he gave us the Holy Spirit, and we can trust the Spirit to guide us through this new phase of potentially awkward and restrained style of worship.
For those planning to attend in person this Sunday, here are the guidelines stipulated by the Diocese and adapted for our congregation and facility. Obviously, any ushers, Vestry members or others with leadership positions and willing hands are asked to come early to assist in set up and simple cleaning and sanitizing. It is imperative that we take the precautions we have been taking individually throughout the pandemic, and I entreat your aid in doing so. If you can assist in preparing the worship space in any way, please call Mary at the church office (804-746-8765) or text me (804-572-9148) so I know we have it covered.
We will have chairs set up for you, but you are encouraged to bring you own folding lawn chairs. In addition
Father Bill Burk†