UPDATE (March 17, 2020): All services and gatherings are suspended, although the ministry of the parish continues. Read more here.
In accordance with guidelines released Friday, March 13 by the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America, Fr. Ignatius updated parishioners, guests, and visitors on measures now in place to ensure that the parish continues praying for the health and salvation of the world, while at the same time adopts common-sense, temporary precautions to limit the spread of infectious disease.
The worship schedule remains unchanged and all faithful not in a high-risk category are encouraged to offer thanksgiving to our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ, and receive His Holy Mysteries. However, it is imperative that anyone who exhibits symptoms of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (a.k.a. COVID-19)—fever, cough, shortness of breath, etc.—self-quarantine for fourteen days. Father also fervently asks you to seek medical assistance and let a member of the clergy know if this is the case so that they may provide you pastoral support and visitation to the furthest extent possible.
There will be no changes to the way Holy Communion is administered, however, the parish is adopting the following changes through at least the end of March 2020 (in addition to the aforementioned guidelines mentioned above):
- Antidoron—the blessed, but not consecrated, holy bread taken to cleanse one’s palate after receiving Holy Communion—will be cut and distributed by one healthy adult only, who has prepared himself according to the parish’s standard practice (washing of hands and application of hand sanitizer); as opposed to the open bowls on the sides of the church.
- To minimize the amount of surfaces touched, our Greeters will assist by opening the main doors of the church for you, and the doors leading into the Nave will remain open for the entire service. (To create a prayerful atmosphere for all, parents with young children are asked to give them their necessary breaks in the Nursery, which is located at the east end of the Parish Hall; audio from the service is piped in.).
- Fr. Ignatius can bless you over the head with the Cross at the conclusion of each service, as opposed to the traditional hand blessing. The veneration icons will remain in place—and they will continue to be cleaned as usual—but you may reverence them by simply bowing before them, if you so choose.
- Sunday School will resume March 15 and remain in session during this time, but teachers will sanitize all classroom surfaces before the start of class.
- Bagel service has been discontinued until at least Sunday, April 5, and the rest of Coffee Hour will be scaled back to include only coffee and items that are served by hosts wearing gloves; there will not be an open table in the Parish Hall for the time being. (Because Soup-er Sunday has always been served in this manner, the Sunday, March 29 fundraiser luncheon is still on! Parents and teachers will take extra care to ensure our youth food preparers and hosts take all the appropriate precautions.)
- Likewise, at each of the remaining Wednesday Lenten Potlucks, please place your covered food in the kitchen before the Presanctified Liturgy to be served by volunteers cafeteria-style. If you are interested in assisting with this task, please let Deacon Alex know.
Please join your fellow clergy and all members of the parish in praying for all those afflicted with and adversely impacted by COVID-19. Thank you for your continued stewardship of the parish—including the Matthew 25 Ministry (student food insecurity will remain a problem after the current crisis abates)—so we can continue ministering to the least among us and Building Up the Church Beyond Our Parish.