In late September, the Diocese of East Carolina released new guidelines for Public Worship within the diocese.If you wish to read the guidelines in full, please click here. In response to those guidelines, we have worked with our worship leaders, staff members, and vestry to decide how we, at St. Timothy’s, would respond to these guidelines and make a path forward which is consistent with our primary desire to keep everyone safe as well as our burning desire to be able to live and worship together as an unrestricted, faithful family.As a foundation for each of us in these updates, please be mindful of the following:
- From discussions with surrounding clergy, St. Timothy’s is in a minority to have only suffered the death of one member do to COVID. We consider this grace that is not to be ignored and give thanks to God, as well as our gratitude for everyone’s willingness to follow the community guidelines over the past twenty months.
- If there are further reductions in COVID cases in Pitt County, more restrictions could be lifted at any time.
- If there is a COVID resurgence in Pitt County, or within our congregation, past restrictions may be reinstated.
- If you have personal concerns or questions about the protocols we are implementing, please call the church office to discuss your concerns with the Rector.
Area (1) – Building capacity and physical distancing
- All restrictions on building capacity at St. Timothy’s have been lifted
- All people participating in ministries that serve children who are not eligible for vaccination are required to wear masks at all times while indoors with the one exception of corporate worship.
- If there is to be food served in these ministries, do so outside when possible.
- If food is served indoors, there must be enough space to offer physical distancing for all unvaccinated people.
- Corporate worship will maintain an area that requires both the use of masks and social distancing for all of those who live outside your household.
Area (2) – Mask requirements
- All persons are invited to wear a mask at any time.
- Some people, including those who are not vaccinated or who are immune compromised, should wear a mask.
- The following are situations where masks are still required
- Indoors ministries where children who are not eligible for vaccination are present. (excluding corporate worship)
- Those who are sitting in the section of corporate worship that requires distancing and masking.
- Those who are participating in an indoor ministry whose leader has masking as a requirement.
- Examples would include Training for Pitt County Schools held on our property, yoga classes taught by an instructor that prefers masking, a small group or meeting whose leader has decided that masking should be required.
Area (3) – Worship Practices
- Masks are to be worn by all people while entering and exiting the church.
- All those who serve as ushers or greeters will wear a mask as a sign of hospitality for all those who enter.
- Those who choose to sit on the side of the church from which the lessons are read are allowed to remove their masks when they reach their seats.
- Distancing is not required on this side of the congregation.
- On this side of the congregation, people may choose to pass the peace with those who are in their immediate proximity being mindful of the comfort level for physical touch of those who are around them.
- Those who choose to sit on the side of the church closest to the parking lot will be asked to social distance and wear their masks at all times.
- During the peace, this side of the church is asked to offer signs of the peace to each other without touching anyone outside of their household.
- St. Timothy’s will begin offering both elements of the Holy Eucharist to those who wish to receive them on the first Sunday of Advent, November 28th, 2021.
- All who are physically able to do so, will come forward one section at a time to receive the bread and wine of Holy Communion.
- All movement will be counterclockwise, around the section of seats or pews that you are sitting in.
- Bread will be distributed, by hand, to those who wish to receive.
- Those who wish to receive wine will be given a small cup which they will use and then place on a small table provided on the way back to their seat.
- These cups are only used once a week and are cleaned with hot soap and water after each use.
- Those with mobility issues are encouraged to stay in their seats where communion will be brought to them after others have received.
- All clergy and Lay Eucharistic Ministers who participate with the distribution of Holy Communion will wear a mask as a sign of hospitality for those who come forward.
- Singing is allowed as part of worship.
- Choirs are to be given the same choice of distancing and masking as the congregation.
- Please note that all members of our choirs have been fully vaccinated.
Area (4) – Receptions and Coffee Hour
- St. Timothy’s may return to having parish meals and Sunday Morning Coffee hour.
- All functions where food is to be provided should use the largest available space when an outdoor event is not appropriate.
- Sunday Morning Coffee hours will not be held in the “Meeting Room” as before.Alternate possibilities are being explored.
All people are asked to keep the needs of others in the forefront of their mind when planning an event or when choosing how you may choose to participate in an event.Just as we may choose to offer ourselves as a servant to others by restricting our own freedom, please choose to serve others by restricting any inclinations to judge someone else’s decision.Be as safe as you can.Love your neighbor and love yourself.