An Update to Our Worship Guidelines

May 14, 2021

 

Beloved in Christ,

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.”

I am thrilled to announce that we are entering an exciting new season in our life together at Trinity. On Wednesday of this week, the Diocese of Upper South Carolina released new guidelines for worship gatherings. These guidelines eliminate capacity restrictions and greatly reduce our previously mandated social distances. Indeed, our new guidelines require only two things: the wearing of masks indoors by all worshippers, and the maintenance of three feet of distance between members of different households.

This means that beginning this Sunday, May 16, we will be able to freely utilize all of our entrances and exits. There is no more need for entering through a color-coded door, or for signing in. Once inside the Cathedral, we may now make available every row of seating and accommodate many more additional worshippers. Happily, our historic box pews guarantee three feet of distance to each row, requiring only a mindfulness of keeping three feet separation between the inmost seats.

While we will continue to lock the Cart Courtyard doors to the Education Building for security reasons, the south porch doors granting access to the Nursery, Satterlee Hall, and restrooms will be open on Sundays, and restrooms will no longer be limited to one person at a time.

Most joyfully, our new guidelines now permit vaccinated, masked worshippers to sing in church at last. What a blessing that will be! The bulletins for Sunday already include the texts of our hymns, and hymnals will be returned to the pews as soon as possible.

Of course, these welcome changes are not an invitation to throw caution to the wind. To paraphrase Saint Paul, we have been called to liberty, but let us not use liberty as an excuse for selfishness. Our continued commitment to mask-wearing while indoors is an opportunity to show care and concern for our whole community, and especially for its most vulnerable members. Remember that some parishioners are unable to be vaccinated for health reasons. Remember, too, that the youngest members of our congregation are not yet eligible for the vaccine. For their sake, and in obedience to the pastoral direction of our Bishop, we will continue to wear masks indoors for the time being.

Furthermore, I urge all unvaccinated members of Trinity who are eligible for the vaccine but who are, for any reason, hesitant to receive it to reach out to one of the Cathedral clergy. We know there are many reasons why folks may feel anxious about taking the vaccine, and we stand ready to listen to your concerns, to share our own experiences receiving different versions of the vaccine, and to support you spiritually as you grapple with this decision.

In the coming weeks we will continue to work out the full implications of these new guidelines from our Diocese. We will also consider the insights and information available to us through secular sources. We will think, pray, plan, and communicate with you. And we will continue to move forward, maintaining the blessings we have gained in this COVID season—the livestreaming of services, for example—while restoring some of those precious pieces of our common life that we have missed in the last eighteen months. In all things, we will seek the greater glory of God, the more faithful proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the wellbeing of his whole Church. A glorious season and a time of renewal and hope lie before us. Praise the Lord whose grace has brought us safe thus far, and whose grace will lead us home.

Faithfully,

The Very Reverend Dane E. Boston, Dean