Letter from Rev. Ryan Fleenor to the congregation on 7/15/21:
Six weeks ago, when we resumed indoor worship at Saint Luke’s after months of outdoor and online-only services, it was a truly joyful day. We were back in the church we love, together, singing (behind our masks) and sharing Communion together. It’s hard to describe just how much joy there was in the room that day.
Like our neighboring Episcopal churches, we continued to require that everyone wear masks and maintain social distancing while indoors, while also continuing to offer outdoor and live-stream services. We wanted to be as prudent, wise and inclusive as we could be in welcoming everyone back to worship.
Over these past six weeks, we have seen firsthand the difference high vaccination rates make. Cases of Covid-19 have plummeted across our state, even as restrictions are being lifted. And so your Vestry and I now believe it is time to take the next step. Beginning this Sunday, July 18, masks will become optional indoors for those who have been fully vaccinated. We will also be taking down the ropes sectioning off pews and our ushers will again begin passing the offering plate at the Offertory. We are not yet permitted to offer the chalice, so Communion will remain in one-kind (bread) only. The outdoor service at 8am and the live-stream of the 10am Eucharist will continue all summer.
Remembering that our youngest parishioners are not yet vaccinated, and that there are some in our community who are immunocompromised or have other medical conditions which put them at higher risk, many vaccinated people will choose to continue wearing masks. We support this wholeheartedly, and we are planning to reserve a section of pews in the church for those who would like to continue maintaining stricter Covid-19 protocols, including social distancing and wearing masks. We also continue to ask that any who are not fully vaccinated, for whatever reason, remain masked indoors at church, and that those who are not feeling well to stay home and join worship via the live-stream on our website.
Our concern throughout has been for one another’s well-being, and the health of our entire community. That remains our priority and we will continue to monitor public health data as we move forward. But I hope you share my joy and thanksgiving that we are able to take this next step, as we gather around the Altar to encounter Christ and one another, face to face.
With my love and prayers,