Worship & Registration Overview
Dear Trinity Church and friends,
Grace and Peace and Tuesday greetings! I hope this message finds you and yours well.
Having now crossed the fond end-of-summer thresholds of Labor Day and school matriculations, we look forward to the beginning of our Program Year here at Trinity Church in the City of Boston. The “Program Year” – that fullest season of worship, programming, and formation for all ages – customarily begins for us on the Sunday after Labor Day and concludes on the Sunday before Memorial Day. As announced last week, we are excited about this Year’s theme, The Life of the World to Come, and I look forward to joining you for the rich regathering opportunities now on our nearest horizon.
Background & Schedule
In March of last year, our COVID-response working group began its time together with a discussion of our parish values. Among other aspirations, we named that Trinity Church strives to be: loving, hopeful, selfless, generous, discerning, joyful, prayerful, open, and authentic. Thanks be to God and to you, every step and season of our life during these last eighteen months has witnessed these values. Continuing in that spirit, we now look forward to our long-awaited return to in-person, indoor worship and programming in our Copley Square home.
Beginning September 12, our Sunday schedule will be:
9 am Worship from the West Porch* (Holy Eucharist, outdoors, minimum constraints)
10 am All-Ages Formation (outdoors, minimum constraints)
11 am Holy Eucharist, Rite II (indoors, masked, socially-distanced, pre-registration required)
12 pm Coffee on the Porch (outdoors, minimum constraints)
5 pm Holy Eucharist, Rite II (indoors, masked, socially-distanced, pre-registration required)
6 pm Lemonade on the Porch (outdoors, minimum constraints)
*We intend for this schedule to make room for all and exclude none. Even so, as we make this shift to emphasize our in-person worship, we ask for your patience with our livestream. As we have experienced the last two weeks, occasionally factors beyond our control have their way with our best-laid plans. At present, we intend to continue livestreaming the 9 am service, both to our website and to Facebook, as we have been through the summer. Should we encounter technical difficulty with the 9 am feed, we will upload the recorded service by Sunday afternoon.
After extensive consideration, we will not reopen the Nursery at this time. We will offer the “Children’s Homily” during the (9 am) Worship from the West Porch sermon. As the Gospel hymn begins, our Director of Children’s ministry, Cathy Portlock Pacitto, will lead our elementary-school children to the well-ventilated Clarendon Vestibule and Porch, for an age-appropriate reflection on the day’s scripture.
As foreshadowed in last week’s message, we will celebrate Holy Eucharist indoors at 11 am and 5 pm. Each of these services’ registrations will be limited to 125. While that available number does not include the lay and ordained leaders of the service (eg, choir, clergy, acolytes, etc.), please know that we have reduced the number of those serving to maximize congregational participation.
Registrations – via Eventbrite – for an upcoming Sunday will open on the previous Thursday, with a link in our weekly eBlast. Registrations will be accepted on a first-come, first served basis, and will remain open until all available slots are filled. Look forward to this Thursday’s message to register for this Sunday!
Arriving for Worship
For all indoor services, we will keep a single point of entry: the West Porch doors facing Copley Square. Please enter only by this access. To prevent the congestion of a queue during the brief check-in process, we invite you to arrive as early as you can.
Abiding the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts’ directives, masks will be required at all times for all present, with the singular exception of children under two years of age. Masks can be cloth with filter, surgical, or N95, and must cover the entire nose and mouth. Bandanas, scarves, and gaiters do not meet the CDC-recommended standard and will not be allowed.
With intention to make possible parishioners’ return to “their seats” – or a place very near them – we will not cordon any pews or sections of pews in the lower Nave as we begin our return. Instead, we ask all to mind social-distancing standards. Diocesan standards require six feet of separation between individuals or cohorts. Therefore, please leave a pew of separation between you and your fellow worshipers. This distancing will allow everyone to gather – and sing! – comfortably and safely.
The balconies will not be open at this time.
Communion will continue to be offered in only one kind: bread. Following the words of Invitation – “The gifts of God, for the people of God” – the clergy will process to the West Porch. Beginning with the rearmost pews, worshipers will make their way to the West Doors and receive the bread there. We invite all to remove their mask and consume the bread once they are fully outside.
Weather permitting, once all have received Communion, the congregation will then reassemble at the foot of the stairs to the Square, where we will offer the Post-Communion Prayer; pronounce the Blessing; sing the Closing Hymn; and announce the Dismissal. Should the weather not cooperate, we will gather under the West Porch, with all the Narthex doors opened wide to create a hybrid, indoor-outdoor space.
Communications & Comfort Calls
Beginning tomorrow, the Vestry, Regathering Task Force, and parishioner leaders will begin “Comfort Calls” to every member of our parish – our third such effort since the pandemic began. As with the earlier calls, we hope to hear how you are doing and feeling, and, given our fuller regathering this fall, to answer any questions you might have about how you can participate.
If after your Comfort Call you have further questions or concerns, we invite you to reach out to the Rector’s Office by replying to this email. We are eager to support you, even as we ask for your grace and patience.
Looking Ahead and Giving Thanks
With only the slightest adjustments that may be required, we are committed to this process and these protocols through at least Sunday, October 3. As we have previously noted, we will be fully “From Home” for worship and formation on October 10 – Marathon weekend – to avoid the congestion on the Square, and we are excited about the meaningful Creation Care programming we are brewing for that day. Should the changing pandemic conditions dictate or allow any significant adjustments, we will communicate those the week of October 11, in time for the following Sunday’s worship. Our every hope is that circumstances will allow our indoor, in-person worship to continue and even grow in openness.
In closing, I acknowledge with deep gratitude Dr. Niven Narain, our Regathering Task Force Co-Chair, who has been an indefatigable resource throughout this long COVID-tide experience. Along with all our Regathering Task Force members (listed below), he has led us with care, wisdom, and grace.
See you on a Sunday soon!
The Rev. Morgan S. Allen
Rector & Regathering Task Force Co-Chair
Regathering Task Force
Dr. Niven Narain, Co-Chair
The Rev. Karen Coleman
Barbara Dortch-Okara, Junior Warden
Mark Morrow, Senior Warden
The Rev. Bill Rich
The Rev. Patrick Ward