Return to Campus Plan
First, it's important that everyone knows the Sunday service schedule for the remainder of April:
April 11: No service at St. Cross as we will join the rest of the Diocese of Los Angeles for an online, all-Diocese service.
April 18: We will have our first in-person, outdoor service at 10am!
Next week, we will have a signup form for April 18 and, following that, we will have signups for future upcoming services. That's right -- starting the 18th, we plan on the outdoor 10am service every week!
As of the time of this article, 116 parishioners responded to the "Return to Campus" questionnaire which asked parishioners about their comfort level and desire to return to services in person. While 60% said they would return to an 8am service without music indoors, 79% said they would return to a 10am service outdoors with music but no singing. Since the majority of survey responders would like to see a 10am outdoor service, we are focusing our efforts on creating this service first and will add in others hopefully in the near future. The following will explain how we are going to do a 10am outdoor service and answer the questions that were asked.
We are working hard to make worship like a regular in-person service, but outside. We have improved the parking lot setting and are hoping it will feel more like church than it did last summer. All are welcome as long as you can answer the standard questionnaire that they are symptom free, and have not been exposed or in a high-risk situation related to COVID. Anyone attending our outdoor service will have to follow our COVID protocols so we can ensure to keep everyone safe. These protocols currently include making a reservation online in advance to receive an assigned space, wearing a mask the entire time you are on campus, and no hugging, touching, or close contact with anyone else. These protocols are not negotiable and will apply to everyone regardless of vaccination status or prior COVID infection.
1) When will we be back inside?
Soon, but not yet. The Return to Campus committee wanted to be able to roll out the return to campus strategy in a safe way that would provide in-person church services to as many people as possible. We are working to add a second service, at 8am, inside the church in the coming months. The logistics and planning to keep everyone safe indoors is more complex, therefore, we thought it best to arrange for outdoor services first.
2) Could we offer a service for vaccinated people inside the church?
The easiest answer is privacy laws. But the more important answer is that as the community of God’s gathered people we don’t do insiders and outsiders. We want everyone to be welcome at the same time regardless of their access to a vaccine. In essence it is an issue of social justice and ensuring we are not promoting inequality since not everyone will have access to a vaccine as well as a safety issue.
3) Why can’t we sing yet?
Simply, because the diocese says we can’t. Even if we all wore a mask, worshipped outside while sitting six feet apart, and we were all vaccinated, the national guidelines still do not allow us to sing together (yet). The reasoning behind this decision is that study after study shows the air flow from singing reaches further than talking, even with a mask and sitting outside. In order to attempt to make singing safe we would have to start by spacing everyone 20 feet apart which is unrealistic given the restricted space of our parking lot . As soon as the guidelines are updated to allow us to safely sing, we will be singing – we may even sing the whole service, just because we can!
4) How do I keep people from hugging or getting in my space?
We are asking people to keep to their assigned area. Ushers will do their best to help us remember the protocols for safety. You have every right to come to church and be assured of your safety and we are doing our best to make sure you are comfortable. We ask that everyone put the health and safety of our church community first which means respecting the boundaries of others.
5) What about if I want to watch online?
ALL in-person services will be broadcast in real time online, every week. We are happy to announce that we will always have our services streaming now for those who can’t join us in person.
6) Can I meet with one of the clergy in person now?
We are happy to meet with you outside and masked.
7) Will Eucharist be available?
Eucharist will be celebrated and shared at the in-person service, but as bread only. As we have throughout the pandemic, we will not be serving wine during communion due to the difficulty of administering it in a safe manner. As it was in our previous summer parking lot services, you will come up to the altar socially distanced and take the sacrament back to your seat before consuming it. We will no longer be offering the drive-through or Sunday afternoon services (unless we have an outpouring of requests otherwise).
8) How will the services be accessible?
We have been asked a few times about handicapped or accessible parking AND about getting communion without having to walk up. We have plans to ensure accessible parking for those in need and we need to know if more spaces are needed. Please do reach out to Rev. Rachel if you need better access with parking. If you let the usher know, we can bring communion to you.
9) I am willing to help set up and take down on Sundays, how do I know when I am scheduled?
If you gave your name in the survey (some of you said you would help but didn’t give your name) then we will reach out. If you are willing to help and not sure your name went on the list, please email Trudy at [email protected]. We are hoping for a crew to set up and a crew to take down, as the clergy cannot do this on their own.
We thank each and every one of you for your patience as we bring what is “next” into being. We definitely have learning edges as we move into a new era of being church. Your feedback and support has been essential as we move forward.
- The St. Cross Return to Campus Committee