The Episcopal Dioceses of Eastern & Western Michigan announced on March 15, 2021 that we can enter Phase 2 of the Plan for Re-Entry for Great Lakes Episcopalians. The first in-person Sunday services can take place on Palm Sunday, March 28th.
At the March 17 Vestry meeting, we approved this plan for Trinity, although it was NOT a unanimous vote. We are concerned for our congregation, which is composed of some individuals meeting the description of a vulnerable population. Please note Ogemaw County is listed as “Orange” (high risk) by the District Health Department. If you are not comfortable attending a worship service in person because you are part of a vulnerable population or sick, we understand. We encourage you to stay home and participate in the on-line livestreaming services.
A Palm Sunday service is scheduled for March 28th @ 10:30 a.m. Holy Week services include a Good Friday service April 2nd @ 12:00 noon, and an Easter Sunday service on April 4th @ 10:30 a.m. Regular weekly Sunday 10:30 a.m. services led by supply priests The Rev. Brian Chace and The Rev. Rebecca Owsley will follow until further notice.
What does all this mean for us at Trinity West Branch? The following is required by the Diocese as we come together once again in person to worship under Phase 2: -Masks are required at all times regardless of vaccination status. -In-person gatherings are permitted with capacity at 25% of room capacity. -We must maintain 6 feet distancing with 360^ of total separationbetween households. -Regular cleaning, according the current CDC standards, will occur after each service. -Non-essential items will be removed from pews (hymnals, Bibles, Book of Common Prayer, etc.) so that there are fewer surfaces to touch (and clean). -We will continue the use of printed single-use service bulletins. -A contact log is required for all persons entering the church in case of the need for required contact tracing. -There will be no receiving line following a service. Food or beverages are not allowed as part of any gathering. -Cooper Hall will be closed; the back door to the kitchen will be locked. The front door and side door off the parking lot will be open. -Parishioners should dismiss themselves. Those sitting at the rear leave first, with others falling in behind, while continuing with social distancing. Since there is no coffee hour after church, leave the building and do NOT linger after the service to visit with one another. -We need to have non-contact greetings, refraining from shaking hands and hugging. -There is no physical touching during the passing of the peace. There is no passing of an offering plate through the pews. -You are encouraged to place your offering in the plate at the rear of the church, or to continue sending in your contributions via the U.S. Mail. Singing is among the riskier behaviors when it comes to spreading the virus. -We are advised to refrain from singing. The Vestry has chosen to keep the building closed to outside groups. -The only group permitted to use the church is the O.C.C.F. Food Pantry.
We appreciate your patience and dedication to our church during this pandemic. Please continue to pray for the ill and recovering, the grieving, and the lonely. Please pray in gratitude for our scientists, doctors and frontline workers, and for those administering more and more life-saving vaccines every day. And please pray for our church leaders, both at the congregation and diocesan level, lay and clergy, paid and volunteer. This season continues to require the extraordinary from all of us and we thank you for all that you have given and shared with one another.
All of this can change depending on the metrics that both Dioceses are following. Stay tuned for further information. If a last minute update is needed, check your in-box for another e-mail or delivery from the U.S. Postal Service. Information will also be posted on our website: www.trinityepiscopal-wb.com.
As always, please reach out to any Vestry member if you have any questions or concerns.