Update to the People of Saint Martin’s Parish
Saint Martin’s Episcopal Church, Chagrin Falls, Ohio, after due diligence and much thoughtful deliberation is moving slowly towards a regathering for Sunday worship. The clergy, wardens and vestry, as well as the executive committee, in receiving and reviewing the directives from the bishop’s office of the Diocese of Ohio, believe a cautious approach to reopening is the best and safest course.
On Sundays throughout the summer, we will offer an outdoor service of Morning Prayer (said) in the shaded area along the lane to the right side of the church building (enter from the Chagrin River Road parking lot). Each Sunday service will be weather permitting. Bring your own chair or blanket and a face mask. The safety and health restrictions outlined below will apply.
Numerous restrictions are required in order to welcome parishioners back to public worship, as well as many levels of preparation. These are required by our diocese and include:
- Wearing masks at all times by all participants, including the celebrant/officiant
- No singing
- No coffee hour
- No reception lines
- No passing of the peace
- No passing of offering plates (stationary plates)
- No eucharist (in our case, morning prayer)
- Removal of all prayer books and hymnals
- Physical distancing in seating
- Physical distancing at all times in the church nave (no indoor congregating)
- Signing up ahead of time in order to attend a service
- Arrival and immediate departure after each service
- Entrance and exit by the front door only
- Occupation of the nave of the church (pews) only: no use of the other rooms
- Deep and thorough sanitization of the building before and after each use
- Ushers to instruct and inform physical distancing
- Signage to instruct worshippers on all aspects of the new requirements, etc.
Additionally, the national and state situations remain ambiguous in terms of a possible resurgence of cases in the coming weeks. The leadership of our parish believes the health and safety of our own people, as well as the welfare of the entire community, is a priority, not to mention a Christian duty. While our decision-making is and will continue to be complex, we invite parishioners to visit the diocesan website to read and study the relevant documents at www.dohio.org. Please know that when we do reopen, our worship will look and feel very different from what we have experienced in the past. Initially it will lack the fullness of expression and solemnity familiar to most of us. It will be a start towards the recovery of our practice. Some time, however, will be needed to return to a complete sense of the liturgy and prayer to which we are accustomed. We will continue to communicate with our people by means of videos, Zoom, our website, Facebook, YouTube, email blasts, texts and telephone. The Rev Dr John A Cerrato