Update on In-Person Eucharist Services
GATHERING TOGETHER AGAIN, BUT DIFFERENTLY
Sunday mornings at All Saints will look different for the time being. As we begin to reintroduce in-person services, we are incorporating extra efforts to sanitize and promote cleanliness, encourage some distance between attendees, and limit congregational singing for the time being.
Phase One: Worship
Our “re-opening” of All Saints will happen in phases. In this first phase, our focus is on gathering for small worship services with Communion. Unfortunately, many of our usual programs and practices will remain on pause for the time being. There will be no Children’s Ministry activities on site: no children’s programs, Sunday School, nor Small Saints. The facilities on the west side of the campus will remain closed, including the Hospitality Room, the Children’s Hall, and the playground. We look forward to reintroducing coffee and refreshments sometime in the future. The Nursing Room adjacent to the sanctuary remains available for nursing mothers. However, the bookstore and the offices will be closed, except to staff.
- Giving Each Other Space
- Just as giving one another some space is now commonly practiced in our community, we have adopted many new practices in order to give each other some extra space while at church.
- Just half of the spaces in the parking lot will be available, with one empty space between each vehicle. All attendees are asked to enter the church through the main wooden double doors from the courtyard into the narthex; a door will be propped open to allow for contactless entry. The wooden double doors into the sanctuary will also be kept propped open.
- In the Sanctuary
- Just inside the sanctuary, the entrance will feature an enlarged empty space reserved for standing and circulation. For the time being, our services will be limited to around 100 people apiece (less than 25% of the sanctuary’s capacity). Following the guidance provided by the Governor’s Office, we will seat people with two empty seats between parties, and with a vacant row in front and behind each attendee.
- Attendees may take communion “self-serve”. We will use our usual glass cups to serve both the bread and the wine; bread will be broken into little pieces and presented in cups. The cups will be presented in trays with expanded spacing of cups for ease of use. Those taking communion will come forward, partake of a cup of bread and a cup of wine or grape juice, and return to one’s seat.
- Attendees will be dismissed by ushers, one row at a time. Those sitting on the west side of the sanctuary may be invited to exit via the sliding glass doors.
Health and Cleanliness Standards
- Health and Safety
- For the health and well-being of everyone present, those with any of the following new or worsening signs or symptoms of possible COVID-19 are asked to please watch the livestream from home and refrain from attending a Eucharist Service: a temperature of 100ºF or higher, a persistent cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, loss of taste or smell, diarrhea, or recent contact with anyone confirmed to have COVID-19. Staff and volunteers will undergo routine temperature checks upon arrival.
- Face Coverings
- All are encouraged to wear face coverings or masks, though those on stage will have their faces uncovered out of necessity. Naturally, taking communion will necessitate the removal of one’s face covering. And, of course, face coverings need not be placed on young children nor anyone who has trouble breathing.
- Self-Serve Experience
- In the spirit of cleanliness, we have reduced the number of physical points of contact for the time being. We will forgo having our friendly greeters at the door, and one’s arrival at All Saints will be quite a bit more self-serve instead. While bulletins will be available you may also bring your personal tablet device if you prefer to use it to download the bulletin, or print one at home. We are doing without our usual community colored pencils, so bring some from home if you wish.
- Tithes and Offering
- For now, we are furloughing the use of our offering stones, and will not pass the offering bowls during the service. If you wish to make a gift on Sunday morning, you may drop it in the bowl on your way into the sanctuary. However, online giving remains a convenient, easy option for all.
- In lieu of sign-in pads, we will invite attendees to sign in via the All Saints app or an online form if they so choose.
- We are committed to keeping our restrooms cleaned regularly. But if you’re so inclined, consider using the restroom at home before you come. Touchless soap dispensers inside the restrooms and hand sanitizer stations outside the restrooms will be made available.
Reserving Seats and Communion
- Go online to reserve your seats.
- To accommodate our large congregation worshipping in smaller-sized groups for the time being, attendance in person at All Saints will be by reservation only during this phase. Acknowledging that we only have about 100 seats available per worship service right now, it will be necessary for our members to take turns being present in worship. We will facilitate these opportunities by an online reservation system akin to what you might experience reserving a ticket at a movie theater. You will be able to see what seats are available, and choose in advance the precise seats you’ll occupy.
- Celebrating the Eucharist
- So many All Saints members have expressed their longing to partake of communion again – a practice which has been on hold since we paused in-person services in March. So as to accommodate weekly communion for those who wish to partake, All Saints will host special 20-minute Eucharist services at several times throughout the day on Sundays. If you have ever joined us in the Chapel for a Wednesday noon Eucharist service during Lent or Advent, you have an idea of what to expect: the reading of scripture, a brief pastoral meditation, and our usual Eucharist liturgy. If you haven't yet completed our survey about these services, please do so here to help us plan for service times and numbers.
NEW NORMALS – BUT JUST FOR NOW.
We expect these alternate measures to be temporary, and look forward to making further modifications for the better as we continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation in Austin over the coming weeks and months.
Our staff is so very grateful for the support and encouragement we’ve received from our congregation over the past couple months. Thank you for being with us on this most unusual journey. Whether you decide to join us in person in the coming weeks, or continue watching the service online for many months to come, we’re glad you’re a part of All Saints. Please let us know how we can best support you and your life in Christ.