Outdoor Worship in the Courtyard Begins Sunday, June 28!

Dear Pohickians and Friends:

During this pandemic, I’ve enjoyed moving “on a dime” and experimenting with creative ways to live-stream Sunday worship services. I’m so grateful for Tom’s solid technical assistance. Together, we quickly learned and mastered FB Live. We have “produced” streamed services from a variety of locations, both inside and outside the church, as well as in the Rectory. After Easter, Linda Egan joined us regularly with music, first in the Rectory, then in church. Recently, Rev. Alex has been able to participate again in Sunday services. Stew Remaly, our Vestry, and several leaders have worked tirelessly to support all these efforts. 

Meanwhile, we deeply appreciate your gentle expressions of support and gratitude! We love “seeing” you, your comments, prayers requests, and “shares” on FB Live. Pohick is truly a uniquely loving and encouraging community!

Along the way, you have graciously followed restrictions and guidelines, and have been agile and accommodating every time the landscape shifts. You have continued to participate joyfully in phone and social media connections, in our many food drives, and in various projects. Lately, our project work has centered around communications:

  • You may have noticed I sent this letter via our new parish communications system called “Constant Contact!” Our ancient email list-serve, Nova, finally succumbed. Thank you to Ben Charbonneau and Kathy Kirkland!
  • We also launched an awesome new web page (still at the address www.pohick.org) with Ben and Carmel Hodge. You can participate in electronic giving, or access live-streamed services via the site. The platform is intuitive. In the next phase of web page development, ministry leaders will be able to update their own pages!
  • Audio visually, Alex Hodge is master-minding a new, permanent network of camera and audio feeds of worship that will be mixed and produced via production software. We will continue  to live-stream worship services, even more clearly and reliably. Thank you to John Sessums, Linda Egan, Dru Hodges, and all who participate in our AV team!

As you know, we are still officially in “Phase I” of indoor worship guidelines. The Diocese of Virginia’s Phase I restricts churches to Inside-Church worship with fewer than 10 people, socially distanced. Phase I allows no one over age 65 to participate in-person, for protection.

Very recently, the landscape shifted once again! As of this week, we are allowed to worship outdoors, and in a larger group! I am delighted to share the details of our upcoming Outdoor Eucharists beginning Sunday, June 29, to be held at 9 am and at 10:30 am in the Pohick Courtyard. This latest turn of events opens up outdoor services for 50 participants each

Early in June, we had gathered worship leaders and a health team to help plan future Phase II worship. Now, with little more than a week’s notice, this Re-Gathering Task Force has switched gears to plan and execute this brand-new option for outside worship!

The Diocese has described this new, interim option for Outdoor Worship as a “Phase I-A.” We have not reached Phase II, when up to 50 will be allowed to worship at one time inside the church, with no age restriction. Phase II will happen based on the metric of a 14-day rolling average decline in cases in our area. To summarize and clarify all the Re-Gathering Phases…

Phase I (Current phase). Inside-Church worship only, for up to 10 people. No one over the age of 65 or with a complicating condition permitted. Social distancing 6 feet+ and masks worn at all times by non-reading or speaking participants. No singing.

“Phase I-A” (Current Phase I with a new option recently added, allowing OUTDOOR Services). Outside-Church worship is now allowed for up to 50 people. This number includes clergy and servers. There are no age restrictions for Outdoor Services; individual, prayerful discernment about readiness to attend is recommended. The same safety measures apply as above, plus a temperature-check as well as check-in for tracing purposes, if necessary. Clergy and lay readers wear masks unless leading prayers, reading or preaching. (Please note: If it rains when outdoor worship is planned during this Phase IA, we will have to move the service inside the building for live-streaming. Inside worship at this point allows only 10 or fewer people inside, so the congregation would have to leave and watch on FB live.)  We will aim for hosting outdoor services every Sunday this summer, weather permitting, until Phase II.

Phase II. (This future, INDOOR phase will begin once our area has met the Diocesan-mandated metric of a 14-day rolling average of declining cases). In Phase II, up to 50 people at a time may worship together INSIDE the church. No age restrictions, but careful discernment recommended. Same safety measures apply as in Phase I-A. 

To help us plan for attendance during Phase I-A and Phase II, please complete this simple survey on-line this week (thanks to Alex Smith!). Click on this link, complete survey, and send:

https://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/5670170/Worship-intention-survey

Phase III. In this phase, we can return to unlimited, in-person worship, whether indoors or outdoors. The metric for this phase approaches 0 new cases. 

Live-Stream Worship. During and beyond all these phases, Pohick will continue to live-stream Sunday worship services! 

Below I’ve outlined the particulars that will help you make a decision about attending outdoor services. I’ve described the basic guidelines to follow our outdoor, “distanced” services:

  • SOCIALIZING. Please refrain from hugs, handshakes, and close conversations. Follow the 6-foot rule and wear a mask please, even in the parking lot. If you need assistance, you may ride in a golf cart from parking lot to courtyard. 
  • PARKING and CHECKING-IN. Please arrive at least 15 minutes early. I have attached Stew’s diagram of the courtyard set-up, so you can see the flow. Whether you park in the lot on the Colchester Road side, or on the Cemetery-lot side, enter the courtyard from that same side and walk to the South Door. Carrying your folding chair or blanket, enter the tent in front of the South Door for Check-In. You will have your temperature taken (cannot have a fever), and receive a mask if you don’t have one. Your names will be recorded. Please use hand sanitizer. Pick up a printed order of service. (Please do NOT bring a prayer book or hymnal, even your own; you’ll have all you need in the order of service and then can dispose of it in the trash when you leave.) Also, please leave your offering “in the plate” in the tent before you sit; we won’t be passing the plate. 
  • DRESSING AND SEATING. Dress casually and coolly! Shorts and sandals are fine! If you and your family bring folding chairs, an usher will seat you in the back. If you bring a blanket, you will be seated closer to the altar. Of course, family members will be seated close together. Bring your own seating! There will be some shade under tents.
  • WORSHIPING/EUCHARIST. Singing has been proven a “super spreader” of COVID-19, so there will be no singing hymns aloud please, even from behind a mask. Linda Egan will play organ music from inside, amplified outside. (Scientifc evidence has proven that the force of the air expelled and breathed in during singing sprays droplets of the virus.) Also, please do not pray loudly! Droplets spread even in loud speaking. Also, God can hear even without spoken words! Please do not touch. Please do not hug or shake hands during the peace; just gesture. We will not partake of the consecrated communion (including clergy). Instead, we will say a prayer of “Spiritual Communion” after the Eucharistic Prayer, and before the final blessing.
  • DEPARTING. Please depart remaining at least six feet apart. Although it will be tempting to remain and “catch up,” please depart promptly, so that the arriving 10:30 worshipers can safely park and walk, and so clean-up crew can work.  
  • LIVE-STREAMING: Remember, if you choose to stay home, we will continue to live-stream the 9 am service every Sunday on FB. You can access that link and the Order of Service from my Constant Contact email, or via our new web page at www.pohick.org.

All of this is new and unchartered territory! In these days of conflicting information and rapid change compounding our sense of isolation, frustration and fear, most of us are experiencing heightened anxiety and insecurity.  What many long for most is to “return to normal;” and we surely long to partake in communion! 

In some ways, all of this feels anything but normal. We worry about an unknown future. So, for now, I invite you to embrace our opportunity to be together each Sunday – whether in person or online! Enjoy gathering virtually via Zoom on Wednesdays for fellowship and compline! I hope many of our younger families will partake in Vacation Bible School in July! Of course, please continue to reach out to one another via phone, mail, or social media.

In all of this, allow yourself to savor our mutual love and joy. Practice simply being “in the moment.”

To that end, I thought you might enjoy nuggets from a reflection written by the late Anthony DeMello, priest and spiritual writer. I’ve shared it with our Re-Gathering Task Force, and I’d like to share it with all of you. It’s based upon a familiar teaching of Jesus, found in Matthew 6:25:

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life…look at the birds of the air…consider the lilies of the field…”

DeMello says: “The final disappearance of insecurity (and anxiety) will only come when you have attained that blessed ability of the birds of the air and the flowers of the field to live fully in the present, one moment at a time. What is unbearable is what you worry is going to happen…those words keep repeating in your head like ‘this is terrible, how long is this going to last,’ and so on. Birds and flowers are blessed above humans because they have no concept of the future, no words in their heads, and no anxiety about what their fellows think of them. That is why they are perfect images of the Kingdom of God. SO do not be anxious about tomorrow; tomorrow will look after itself. Set your mind on God’s kingdom before everything else, and all the rest will come to you as well.”

In Christ’s Love,

Rev. Lynn+