St. Matthew’s Family,
As so much around us continues to return to pre-COVID practices, this transition has also been taking place in our common life as a parish. Some additional changes will take effect this Sunday, June 6th, and another significant one the following weekend.
Beginning June 6th, we can return to full capacity in attendance. Since our sacred space can seat well over 250 people, you are still encouraged to maintain a reasonable distance from those around you. With much rejoicing for many, congregational singing returns as well. In addition, although it has not been our practice to have coffee hour during the summer months, we will do so this year. Many are eager to reconnect after such a lengthy time, and coffee hour will enable us to rekindle in-person fellowship on Sundays.
What will not change for the foreseeable future is the reception of Holy Communion in one kind only. The allowance for the return of the chalice must come from Bp. Gutierrez, and he has indicated that this could happen before the end of the year.
Of course, the biggest question revolves around face masks. The CDC just announced that not only have COVID cases not increased in the three weeks since its announcement to significantly lessen mask restrictions, but they have actually continued to decrease. Another concern for many is the possibility of a spike in cases following the mass gatherings on Memorial Day weekend. That is understandable, but, come mid-June, if there isn’t a noticeable increase, it would certainly appear that we are on the right path with easing the use of face masks.
Each parish seems to have its own answer to this question, but this will be our approach at St. Matthew’s. Assuming no notable increase in cases, we are currently planning to allow those who have been fully vaccinated for at least two weeks to attend services without the need for wearing a face mask on Sunday, June 13th. If you have not been fully vaccinated, the use of masks will continue until we hear otherwise from the CDC, state, and/or diocese.
In a parish community, all of this is very much a pastoral issue as well. Within a short period of time, masks will no longer be required for most of us. Others, especially the majority of our youth, will need to continue wearing them for now. Some have also informed me that, although vaccinated, they will continue to use masks until they feel comfortable without them. Quite simply, all of us, as brothers and sisters in Christ, need to be supportive and respectful of those who will and will not be wearing masks at St. Matthew’s in the coming months.
There have, no doubt, been many difficulties and continual changes for over a year because of this pandemic. Nonetheless, the loving presence of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has been unmistakably interwoven through all these days as well. St. Matthew’s has truly been blessed, and may our merciful God continue to guide this faithful congregation as we fully return to our common life of worship, fellowship, and outreach.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask.