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Dear Friends,

I’m writing to announce and explain our new mask policy effective March 27. Our vestry held a special meeting on March 7 at which we unanimously approved this new plan.

On this date, March 15, two years ago, we suspended in-person worship in response to the Covid19 pandemic. Following the guidance of Bishop Reddall and findings from the CDC, the state of Arizona, and other medical institutions, we have worshiped and gathered for other activities indoors and outdoors, in person and online, with and without capacity restraints, with reservations and open seating, with and without masks.

I know the times have been trying on us all. And you have displayed remarkable forbearance, remarkable patience, remarkable support, remarkable discipleship. Truly, I cannot thank you enough, and I cannot adequately express my gratitude, appreciation, and respect for you. Thank you.

In the explanation that follows, I hope you will be pleased to learn that we are providing options for every preference. In addition to providing these options, this plan will allow us to see how many of our worshippers make use of each option. This will guide us in future modifications of our plan.

This plan also asks something of us. It asks us to be flexible in our seating preference. It means the place you normally prefer to sit might not be in the masking area you choose. So, again, we are asking for your patience. May we continue to be disciples willing to make sacrifices.

Changes to Worship
We want you to understand how our celebrations will and will not change. Here’s what to expect.

What Remains the Same

  • Online worship will still be available every week
  • 7:45 and 10:21 services will continue as “mask-optional” services
  • All unvaccinated individuals over 5 years of age must continue to wear masks at church
  • Communion will continue to be available standing
  • Clergy and altar party will continue to be masked throughout the services
  • The two current seating options will continue to be available:
    • Social Distance Pews for those wishing to sit 6’ socially distanced from others in a “mask required” pew
    • Communal Pews for those wishing to sit communally in a “mask required” pew

What Will Change

  • A third seating option will be added:
    • Communal Pews for those wishing to sit communally in a “mask optional” pew will now be available
  • Communion (with intinction only) will be offered kneeling or standing at the rail at 7:45 and 10:15
  • The diagram below illustrates the location of the pews for each of the three seating options

What to Expect When You Arrive
The Welcome Table located on the patio in front of the church will have diagrams of the new seating plan. Outside, Greeters and Vestry Members will be available to answer your questions and provide orientation to the new seating plan.

Inside, the ushers will be available to point out the three seating area options and assist you to find a seat of your preference.

In each of the Social Distance Pews you will find two laminated signs on the pew cushions stating, “Reserved for Social Distance Seating -Thank You!.” Please use these signs to save the 6’ space between your group and anyone else choosing to sit in that pew.

At Communion, the ushers will invite each pew to move to the front of the worship space to receive the Eucharist. The Communal Pews will be released to go to the rail. Communion will be in two kinds by intinction.

The Social Distancing Pews will then be released to receive communion standing, in two kinds by intinction. On the way back to your seat, you can briefly remove your mask to consume the wafer and then replace your mask.

In Summary
We understand that there is a lot of information here to be absorbed. The key points are:

  • We will move from two seating options to three seating options for worship at 10:15:
    • Social Distance “Masks Required” Pews
    • Communal “Masks Required” Pews
    • Communal “Mask Optional” Pews
  • Consult the attached diagram to see the location of the three seating options
  • Please follow the guidance of your ushers, greeters, clergy as we learn this new way
  • Our online worship services will continue each week for those who prefer to worship from home

As we move forward with this next step, we want to provide the opportunities for everyone to attend and to keep everyone safe. If you have questions, please contact the office, who will put you in touch with the right person.

May the Grace and Peace of Christ be with us Abundantly. With Gratitude for your Patience,

Jim Clark

Rector/Senior Pastor

About The Rev. Jim Clark

Rector/Senior Pastor at Saint Barnabas. Follower of Jesus. Husband and father of four. Grateful Episcopalian. Energized by resting in the boundless Presence within. Enjoy being with my beloved, family, friends, work, photography, and fly-fishing.