Our ongoing Covid Plan through November, 2021
(subject to change)
From the Dean’s Desk, May 14th, 2021
Dear Saint Markans & Friends,
Grace and peace to you, wherever this note finds you. I pray your Eastertide has unearthed signs of Life’s enduring victory over Death and has given some indication of your tender participation in the resurrection’s enduring hope. We are resurrection people, after all – not denying Death’s reality, but refusing its finality. As we say, ‘life is changed, not ended.’ So, though we walk in the shadow of Death, we are charged to be ‘agents of change,’ refusing to be captive to what has been as we faithfully nurture what is yet to be.
During this year of strict COVID safety protocols and practices, we have been faithful ‘agents of change,’ graciously setting aside the expectations of what has been for the sake of what is and what is yet to be. We have endured the uncertainties of evolving information and of ever-changing precautions with little to no complaining. That’s not to say there hasn’t been significant grief and frustration, but that grief and frustration has been held within the container of our commitment ‘to love on another.’ We have sacrificed, together, for the Common Good, by which we have not only exercised direct care for one another, but have modeled thoughtful, cautious, creative ‘Love’ to the world around us. By God’s grace, we will be different when we come back together: more grateful, more joyful, more generous, more flexible and adaptive – and all because we have endeavored to hold ‘Love’ as the true north of our moral compass and ‘strategic plan.’
So I want to thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for the poise and the understanding and the gentleness you have shown to one another and to me during this immensely difficult year. I’m so grateful and proud to serve among you and to support the deep wisdom and compassion with which God has so generously gifted you.
Knowing I can trust you to appropriately receive and hold the following information, I want to share with you our hopeful vision for the remainder of 2021. Please know that this is based on a) the information we have at the present time, b) an aspirational vision that is both ours and Minnesota’s, and c) our best efforts to adapt local practice in relation to diocesan guidance.
You will quickly notice that, though the timeline demonstrates obvious progress toward ‘free and unrestricted’ activity at Saint Mark’s, we will take a somewhat more cautious route than the Governor’s most recent announcement would allow, and that is because our life together includes multiple ‘risk factors’ (e.g. singing, eating, drinking, hugging) that we must continue to mitigate as our vaccinations percentages continue to rise. Furthermore, there are beloveds among us who are understandably wary about their return to public worship, so this framework aims to map out a safe, progressive re-entry plan for them, in particular. Though this framework was developed in thoughtful consultation with others, the decision to adopt it and enforce it is entirely mine. So please direct your questions and comments to me and to no one else. And please remember that this framework may be modified, as public health conditions evolve. Thank you for your understanding and faithful participation, in advance.
Remainder of May: Continue current registration & worship practice based on County positivity rates, 0-150 people;
June 1: (~60% MN vaccinations)
- Continue: current registration & worship practices, 0-150 people;
- Add: un-registered Noonday Eucharist in the Nave on Wednesdays.
July 1: (~70% MN vaccinations)
- Continue: masks, four choir section leads, no congregational singing, no common cup, no food/hospitality;
- Discontinue: worship registration, single entryway access, entryway health screenings, seating charts;
- Add: return books and pads to pews, allow congregation to walk up to receive communion from the seal, on-site recovery groups.
September 12: (~80% MN vaccinations)
- Continue: eight choir section leads, no common cup;
- Discontinue: mask requirement, limited chancel access;
- Add: four more choir section leaders, congregation permitted to sing, modified food/hospitality, on-site Saint Mark’s small group activities.
November 29: (~85-90% MN vaccinations)
- Continue: *all COVID restrictions lifted*
- Discontinue: choir limitations, communion distribution limitations, food/hospitality limitations;
- Add: full choir, common cup, unrestricted food/hospitality.
Again, ALL of this assumes our positivity rates continue trending down while our vaccination rates continue trending up, but I think this is a helpful road map for us to have in hand as we prepare ourselves emotionally and practically for this fall’s return to the Cathedral. With all of us rowing in the same direction, we’re sure to reach our desired destination more quickly, more smoothly.
And, in the meantime, we continue to pray,
Almighty and eternal God,
so draw our hearts to you,
so guide our minds,
so fill our imaginations,
so control our wills,
that we may be wholly yours,
utterly dedicated to you;
and then use us, we pray, as you would,
and always to your glory and the welfare of your people;
through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
I remain ever yours, in Christ,
The Very Rev. Paul J. Lebens-Englund, Dean VII