May 27, 2020
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Christ is Risen! Χριστὸς Ἀνέστη!
We are grateful to God and excited to announce that we will be “re-opening” our church this Sunday, May 31st! After two months of isolation, with the blessing of Metropolitan Methodios and following the guidance of Governor Gina Raimondo, we will resume in-person celebration of the Divine Liturgy together as a community, starting this Sunday, May 31. (Summer hours will begin on this Sunday. Matins, 8:30 a.m.; Divine Liturgy, 9:30 a.m.)
We need to be thoughtful and careful how we proceed. We are very concerned for the ongoing well-being of all our beloved parishioners. Our priority is the spiritual and physical health of everyone. The parish council, together with Fr. Aaron, Presvytera Amelia, Dr. John Stoukides, Marianne Fox, and Chris Christopher held a reopening planning meeting and a follow-up walk-through meeting to put together these Re-opening Guidelines, which we ask everyone to please carefully follow:
St. Spyridon’s Reopening Guidelines
Parishioners should not attend church if they or anyone in their household are not feeling well or have any of the CDC list of COVid-19 symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath/difficulty breathing, loss of taste or smell, headache, muscle pain, sore throat, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea). If anyone feels uncomfortable or uncertain about being in public gatherings, or if you are in the higher risk categories as indicated by the CDC, then we recommend for you to stay at home and watch our live stream services via our website or Facebook. No one should feel guilty about not coming to church at this time. We want everyone to come when they are ready. A sign will be posted at the entrance to the church requesting people not enter who are having these symptoms.
Hand sanitizer will be dispensed to each parishioner upon entering. People are encouraged to bring their own hand sanitizer as well and use it to clean hands as needed.
Everyone entering the building will wear a cloth face covering in accordance with the governor’s executive order.
People should bow and before the icons and not kiss them. If someone contacts the icon an usher will clean the surface with a disinfectant wipe.
People from the same household may sit next to each in the same pew.
People from different households should respect the social distancing markings on the pews to maintain the required 6 feet of social distance.
Pews are roped off to maintain a 6 foot front to back distance.
Only single use bulletins will be distributed. No books will be available in pews. People are encouraged to take a divine liturgy book from the table upon entering, and to keep at home (or in the car) and bring to each Liturgy.
Antidoron (blessed bread) will be handed out using tongs.
Communion will be distributed in the traditional manner. Please open your mouth wide and tip your head back when receiving. If you have any concerns about receiving Holy Communion, please talk with Fr. Aaron.
Social distancing marks are placed on the floor to maintain distance during communion and exit from the church.
Once hands are sanitized you may light candles in the usual manner. Change will not be made for donations.
All clergy and volunteers will self monitor and check their temperature prior to coming in for services.
Please read these guidelines carefully, and if you choose to come to church, please heed our Greeters and Ushers; be patient and follow all our guidelines. Remember, we are implementing these guidelines because we want everyone to stay as safe as possible.
All members of the Parish Council will be present to help as ushers during this Sunday’s services. The governor has asked us to limit attendance to 25% of the church capacity. We will allow a maximum of 45 people in the church itself. Please be aware that since other Rhode Island Orthodox churches may not be reopening yet, you may need to arrive early to get a seat in church. Any congregants that arrive after we reach the 45 person capacity will be asked to worship from the church hall, where appropriate seating has been set up for this purpose. The Brewer Street door to the hall will remain locked.
Please be aware that livestreaming will take place from an ipad on a tripod near the middle of the church. Another good reason to avoid extraneous talking during worship!
After the distribution of antidoron, please leave the church. We look forward to being able to resume coffee hour, but until then, we will have to be content with the virtual coffee hour (online-zoom) which will begin after the conclusion of the live-stream of services.
The church will be thoroughly cleaned, and all touch points will be disinfected following services.
This time away from church has been difficult for everyone. In the midst of our trials we look to our church for support and solace. We hold the Church to be the most “essential service” that there is. When we pray “give us this day our daily bread,” the Greek word in not actually “daily” it is epi-ousion, or “super-essential,” What could be more essential to Christians than receiving the “medicine of immortality,” the Body and Blood of Christ for remission of sins and life everlasting?
If you have any questions or suggestions on how we could do anything in a safer manner, please call Fr. Aaron, 617-733-1045. Thank you for your help in abiding by these guidelines. We are doing some things for the first time, and it will be a work in progress. But with your patience and understanding, we will all get through it together.
God is with us both when we are forced to remain in our homes, or when we gather together in His Holy Church.
May we choose to be with Him, in hope and love. May we “enter His gates with thanksgiving in our heart, and enter His courts with praise.”
Christ is Risen!
Fr. Aaron Walker, Pastor
Gia Harrigan, Parish Council President