With vaccinations becoming more available and covid numbers dropping in Erie, we have begun worshipping in-person.
In reopening, we must be mindful that the experience will not be the same as it was before the pandemic- at least not for this calendar year. We will need to follow diocesan guidelines, practice social-distancing, and remain masked, regardless of vaccination status. Because the risk of covid remains, we must limit the number of people able to gather indoors, necessitating registration processes. We will have cantors and instrumental music, but corporate and choral singing will not begin again this calendar year. While we intend to celebrate the Eucharist, we will continue doing so with the all-in-one, self-contained elements.
Each Sunday we will be offering two worship service times to accommodate guidelines, varying degrees of vaccination statuses, and the different comfort levels folks feel in regards to gathering. In designing the service schedule, we have taken into account capacity requirements as well as cleaning requirements; registration will be required for indoor service and is suggested for the outdoor service. The schedule will be as follows:
Outdoor Eucharist, Rite II, 9:00am, on The Green (under a rented tent), no capacity limit
Late Eucharist, Rite II, 10:30am, in the Cathedral, maximum capacity of 50; this service is live-streamed to YouTube.
Between the Outdoor and Late Eucharist, from 10:00-10:30am, we invite worshippers to gather outside under the tent for an informal social time. As we have more details, we will provide them through eNews and will make the registration links available in late April.
We are excited about this news and look forward to sharing more as it unfolds.
How will I register?
Registration links will be available through the eNews, in Realm, and on Facebook. Links will only become available the week before the worship service. Registrations will ask for your name, email, and information regarding your health and contact with covid. In the event of a worshipper testing positive for covid, the registrations will service as a contact tracing list. If you are unable to register online, please contact Niambi Mercado the week before worship to reserve your spot.
Does vaccination status matter to attend worship?
No, you can attend worship regardless of your vaccination status; however, we would strongly encourage those who are not vaccinated to attend the outdoor worship service.
I have children; is there childcare for worship, and can I attend indoor worship with my child?
At this time childcare is not available; we are working on a plan for childcare during worship. You are invited to bring your child to worship. It is up to you and your comfort level as to which service you attend. As more information becomes available about childcare in worship, we will be sending out that information via eNews and in Realm.
What can I expect when I arrive to worship?
If attending outdoor worship, you can expect to find a greeter who will check if you are registered, and if not, have you sign a form for contact tracing. For indoor worship, we ask that you follow the signs to enter at the Seventh Street doors and exit through the Sixth Street doors. Greeters will be present just inside the building; they will confirm your registration, ensure you pick up a bulletin, and check you have a mask. Bathrooms will be available during both services, but can only accommodate one person at a time.
Will I have to wear a mask at services?
Masks are required for all services, indoors or outdoors, and required at all times in all indoors spaces of the Cathedral. We hope you will bring your own mask to worship, but we will have masks available at the door.
What are the seating arrangements?
Seating will be socially distanced. At our outdoor service, we invite worshippers to bring their own chairs and The Green will be marked with small circles to designated appropriate distance between family units. In the Cathedral, pews will be marked off for social distancing and for several weeks, ushers will seat those arriving for worship. This ensures we accommodate family units correctly and fit as many people into the space as is safe.
How will I follow along in the service?
Bulletins will be available, as well as digital bulletins for those who prefer to use a tablet or phone.
How will the worship experience vary at each service?
Each service will be different, given the difference in spaces. The outdoor worship service will be less formal, befitting the outdoor space, and will have instrumental music as well as cantors. The service in the Cathedral will be more formal, also with instrumental music and cantors.
Will there be Eucharist?
Yes, at each of the three services we will celebrate the Eucharist. To comply with guidelines, only one ordained person will be at the altar. We will distribute the elements in the all-in-one, self-contained units we have been using in covid. They will be blessed during the service and worshippers will come forward to receive them, masks on, and consume them upon return to their seating. All clergy will hand-sanitize before distributing any elements. Ushers will dismiss rows of people to go forward to receive up the the center aisle and to return down the side aisles.
What if it rains or the weather is bad?
Starting May 2 and lasting through October, we will have a large tent covering The Green for worship. The tent will have a very high top and no sides, making it covid-friendly, but protecting those underneath from the elements. We understand that a particularly soggy or stormy day may render the tent worship impossible, which is why we encourage registration so we can convey that information in a timely fashion to those intending to participate that day. We do not anticipate this happening often. We have a portable sound system as well as moveable keyboard, ensuring our ability to offer quality worship that can be heard.
What about coffee hour?
At this time, coffee hour indoors with refreshments remain prohibited by diocesan guidelines. However, between 10:00-10:30am we invite you to gather socially outside under the tent for a coffee hour sans the coffee and respecting social-distancing guidelines. We will be monitoring guidelines and recommendations and will adapt as those change.
When can I expect choral and congregation singing to return?
We do not know, but will be paying attention to the data and recommendations. In the interim, we will continue to provide high quality instrumental music and an array of cantored music during worship.
How can I serve in these services?
We will need an acolyte, readers, and greeters at each worship service. Anyone involved in Sunday worship will need to participate in a short training session. For those who wish to serve as acolytes at the indoor service, vaccination is required. All service participants will remain masked while they serve or read. Please let Dean Melinda know if you would like to be involved in these ministries.
What if I or someone else who attends later develops covid?
We ask that should you develop covid, you call or email the office so that we can contact trace those who attended the same worship service. Our registrations ask for emails and names so that they are able also to serve in the event of needed contact tracing. This is also why those not registered will be asked to provide the information with the greeter.
If I feel unwell, should I attend worship?
Because covid presents in a variety of ways, we ask that if you feel at all ill- particularly have a fever, cough, headache, body aches, difficulty breathing, or lack of taste/smell, that you refrain from attending worship. We hope to offer an online option and many online options will be available throughout our diocese.
The worship times are different than before covid. How long will this last?
To honor current guidelines, as well as to create safe spaces for those who are not vaccinated or who are not comfortable gathering indoors, we are offering outdoor worship. Also, in order to meet cleaning requirements, we are attempting to start with services that do not use the same space back-to-back. We imagine that as we learn how many people attending worship are vaccinated, assess peoples’ comfort levels as we return, and grow comfortable with the covid restrictions in place, the service schedule will change.