Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
I am writing to let you know about changes to Sunday worship at St. Paul’s, Ivy. Beginning on Sunday, September 5, the 10:30am Holy Eucharist service will move outdoors. I urge you to read this letter for more details about our Sunday worship schedule, as well as our hopes for these next few months.
Responding to the Delta Threat
We are still in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Delta variant, which is twice as transmissible as other versions of the virus, is now the dominant strain. Our vaccination rates are very high in Albemarle County, but anxiety about transmission has heightened in recent weeks, especially as school resumes. As your staff and lay leaders have conferred with parishioners and with one another, we have concluded that holding indoor worship and formation at this time creates too much uncertainty for many of our families living with unvaccinated or immunocompromised individuals.
In order to foster congregational vitality this fall, and in turn enter 2022 on a strong footing, we must adjust to this emerging reality. The Delta variant is forcing us to change our plans once again, but we have the capacity to come together safely as a congregation by holding our largest worship service outdoors.
Changes to Sunday Worship
Beginning this Sunday, September 5, our services will take the following forms:
- The 8:15am Eucharist will remain in the sanctuary. All worshipers will remain masked unless reading from the lectern. Communion will continue in both kinds (with the Common Cup used for intinction only). Continental breakfast will resume in the Parish Hall on Sunday, September 19.
- The 10:30am Eucharist will move outside to the large grassy area by the playground. Rather than a return to Drive-In Church, 10:30am services will be almost identical to indoor worship: the liturgy will include a full Eucharist with choir and music, and communion will continue in both kinds (with the Common Cup used for intinction only). Some chairs will be provided by St. Paul’s, but to ensure ample seating for all, we encourage parishioners to bring their own chairs. Our post-worship fellowship hour will continue to take place outdoors around the picnic table. Physical distancing by household should continue at this service, but masks will be optional. Nursery care is available to children age 3 and under.
- The Sunday Evening service will continue outdoors in the courtyard. Starting on September 12, that service will become a Contemplative Eucharist, with a start time of 5:30pm and music provided by our Celtic musicians. Communion will be in both kinds (with the Common Cup used for intinction only). Masks are optional at this service.
Children’s Chapel, Fall Formation, & Youth Gatherings
Children may attend outdoor church with their families, and will be invited to attend Children’s Chapel in the courtyard during the 10:30am service. For the time being, we will not hold in-person Sunday School or the 9:30am Rector’s Forum.SPIVY Youth will meet outdoors on Sunday evenings concurrent with the evening service. Audi Barlow, our Director of Children’s and Youth Ministries, will send further information on formation opportunities to families with children and youth.
In his sermon on Sunday, Fr. Rick shared the quote: “Courage is fear that has said its prayers.” I know this is fearful time for many, but we Christians are a people of courage. We can rejoice in the midst of trials because we know that Jesus is always with us. We can be at peace amidst the changes of earthly life because we are citizens of God’s unchanging Kingdom.
Yours in Christ,
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-7