Dear brothers and sisters in Christ
On May 6, and again on June 8, 2020, His Eminence Metropolitan JOSEPH provided the clergy of our Archdiocese with a detailed letter of directives that our local Synod has put into place once the stay-at-home orders are lifted.
Montgomery County will begin allowing houses of worship to open in a limited capacity this coming Friday, June 19th. In preparation to attend church, please thoroughly read the following directives.
We can only accommodate a limited number of parishioners safely to minimize risk and abide by the requirements of civil authorities.
Who and How Many Can Attend?
* Only 24 units of people may attend the Divine Liturgy in a rotating manner using appropriate precautions and while physically distancing from each other.
* A family living in the same household is considered one unit, including single adults, couples, and children.
* People over 65 years of age are strongly advised to not attend the Divine Liturgy in person for their own safety. However, if they want to receive Holy Communion, they may arrange a time with Fr. Luke to offer them Communion from the reserved sacraments during the week.
* For any other spiritual need during this time, whether for confession or receiving Communion during the week, please coordinate with Fr. Luke for a mutually agreeable time.
How Do I Sign Up to Attend?
* To attend the Divine Liturgy, you need to signup using the Sign-up Form sent every week.
* If you are not able to sign up using the online link, please contact Fr Luke (610-844-2583) to sign you up (if slots are still available).
* The signup will be on a first-come, first-serve basis.
* Please refrain from signing up for consecutive Sundays so other parishioners may get the chance to attend a Liturgy as well.
* Under no circumstances is any parishioner to appear on Sunday unless he/she has signed up to attend. The ushers will have a list of those signed up for each Sunday.
* If you have signed up to attend but you or anyone in your household becomes ill, please do not come to the Liturgy. This applies to the entire unit/family, even if only one person feels sick. Please let Fr. Luke know if this is the case.
What should I do when I get to church?
* You must arrive no later than 10:00 am on Sunday. After 10:15 am, no one will be available to give you access to church. (Times are adjusted for evening services).
* Please enter through the designated door to the Hall. Only that door will be open.
* Your temperature will be checked at the door. Anyone with a temperature over 100 F will not be admitted.
* You must have a mask or face covering as you enter the church. If you do not have a mask, please let us know.
* If they are able to, Children should also cover their nose and mouth .
* Collection trays are displayed on two stands in the Narthex. No collection tray will be passed during Liturgy.
* Candles are offered in a way that will minimize touching of more than the candle you are taking.
* Upon entering the Nave, please follow the directions of the ushers. The pews will be filled from front to back to keep reasonable distances between people coming in and going out. For families with children, who may need to use the rest rooms during the liturgy, we recommend that they sit in the back four lines of pews.
* Please only sit in open pews. Those taped off pews are NOT to be used to minimize sanitation after the service and to keep recommended distances.
* There will be no access to the church hall (except the bathrooms), choir loft, kitchen, church offices and Sunday school classes.
* Children under 12 years of age are to stay with parents at all times and must be escorted to the bathroom by an adult.
* We recommend bringing your own hand sanitizer to avoid congregating at the entrance of the church (where we will have hand sanitizer as well).
* Please follow all professional advice related to social distancing while in the church building and after leaving the building: keep a 6-feet distance, no hugging, handshakes, or kissing of each other. (Follow this link to read the recommendations from the CDC on how to protect yourself and others from the virus).
Any Instructions During the Divine Liturgy?
* Always keep your mask on.
* Please venerate the icons or the Gospel book by bowing your head. Please do not touch or kiss.
* While standing in line to receive Communion, please keep a distance from the person ahead of you. Please follow the directions of the usher.
* During Communion and the distribution of holy bread, Fr. Luke and Dn. Christian will be wearing a face mask for their protection and the protection of everyone else.
* There are No changes in the way the Holy Communion is offered to the faithful. However, Fr. Luke asks that you stand sideways (right shoulder toward Fr. Luke) and tilt your head up as much as possible and open your mouth as wide as possible so he may pour the Body and Blood into your mouth without physical contact.
* Adults will receive Communion before children.
* Do not wipe your mouth with the communion cloth after receiving communion. Dn Christian will have the red cloth under your chin to prevent any spilling.
* Holy bread will be handed to you by Fr. Luke at dismissal.
A Final Word
Thank you very much for your patience with this process. Please note that for your safety, we may need to make necessary modifications to these procedures on the spot or in the future.
Our compliance with these directives is rooted in our Christian love for each other and for those most vulnerable in our community. They are necessary to protect you and every other parishioner who is in attendance. These steps are also necessary to protect the clergy and prevent them from becoming vectors of the virus and communicating it to others who attend on following Sundays or to whom they meet during the week.
All the services in the church will continue to be live-streamed through the church’s channel on YouTube. Please subscribe to the channel to receive notifications when we go live.
If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact Fr Luke.
Yours in Christ,
Father Luke Toumi
Deacon Christian Manasseh
Opening Committee & Parish Council
Here are some things we have done in preparation to welcome you back:
Please remember that this is all a work in progress and we may need to pivot as we learn more.
Again, we are grateful for your continued patience as we navigate this unprecedented time. Please direct any questions or concerns you have to me, and I will be happy to address them.