I am missing you, the staff is missing you, we are all missing each other… and we look forward to being with you when we can do that safely! I write to share the most recent information relative to gathering together again and to share the results of our recent parish survey.
St Barnabas has formed a COVID-19 Task Force consisting of parishioners and staff who will complete the policies and protocols for St Barnabas that will enable us to safely gather again. Our protocols will all be in accordance with Governor Inslee and Bishop Rickel’s mandates and will be tailored to our particular congregation and circumstances.
While I would like to be able to tell you just when we will open again, I cannot! St Barnabas, like every church, has its own unique issues to deal with and the virus remains significant in our lives. A primary issue for us at St B, is the fact that we do not have an HVAC system in the church, and consequently we do not have substantial air flow in that building. Because there is no system to push old air out and bring new air in, we have challenges that need to be addressed before we can worship in the church. Thankfully, there are engineers in our congregation! We are looking into that, into water testing (given how long our buildings have been closed) as well as many other issues that are particular to St B. Know that keeping everyone safe will always be our primary concern.
While we can’t all gather for church on Sunday, there are ways we can begin to think about being together. The Task Force will be producing protocols for gathering outside, socially distanced, with masks and appropriate sanitizing. We imagine the possibility of an outdoor service in the “close” – the large patio area outside the parish hall. And we are hoping to have Church on the Beach on August 23rd, with everyone bringing what is needed for their own families. With the help of the Task Force, Elaine Percival and Heidi O’Brien are hard at work reimagining Church on the Beach in ways that will allow us to gather safely… and to gather! Of course all of this is contingent on what is happening around us and on the Bishop and Governor’s mandates, but we’re hopeful!
I want to thank those of you who responded to our recent survey about on-line worship and reopening. We had a fabulous response and I’m particularly grateful for the many comments you offered in addition to simply checking boxes. The results of the survey are appended to this note, with all responses listed as written. We’ve already addressed some of the particular issues you brought to our attention and we are considering all of your responses as we move forward. You asked to be able to worship earlier than 10AM, so the service link is now being sent at 6AM on Sunday mornings. You may also go to our Facebook page and worship on Saturday evening. Two people asked for a Rite 1 service, so we are considering a Rite 1 service sometime in the future. Someone asked if we could celebrate Birthdays and Anniversaries and we certainly can! Please email me with your birthdays and anniversaries and I will include a blessing for you during the Sunday service. If you wanted to send in a photo as well (maybe your wedding picture?) we could show that during the blessing! Some of you told us you wouldn’t be coming back to church until there is a proven vaccine and wondered if we could still stream our services. We will continue to stream services once we gather again, however they will be simple recordings of Sunday services without the images and art that you are currently experiencing in our services. Some of you were saddened by the thought that just because you are over 65 you won’t be able to volunteer anymore. This is a misunderstanding of the Bishop’s protocols. People who want to volunteer may do so as long as you are healthy and simply by acknowledging that you are in the “vulnerable” category and you choose to continue to serve. One of you asked about paying your pledge – you may mail your pledge to St Barnabas (mail is being forwarded to Bookkeeper Julie), drop it in the drop box near the Parlor door entrance, or set up automatic payments through your bank’s bill-pay program.
While our building is closed, our church and our hearts remain open! I am so grateful to be a part of this community of loving, committed, connected Christians. You continue to be the church, we continue to be the church in this time of separation and I am convinced that when we do come together again we will be even more connected than we were before the last time we were together in March. God is in the midst of all of this and the Spirit continues to move in the St Barnabas community as the Spirit always does! Keep caring for each other, stay in touch with each other (and with me – I love hearing from you for any reason!), look out for each other, worship with us on Sundays, pray Compline with us during the week, and know how dearly loved you are, by Jesus and me too!
May the Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and bring you deep peace.
With love and gratitude for you, Karen†