Dear members of the Trinity community,
Last week, our city began “reopening” under Phase 1 of New York State and New York City’s guidelines. This is possible because of the sacrifices that so many people have made over the past few months as we all did our part to contain the spread of COVID-19. I am grateful for your patience and prayers, and for your loving care of one another, as we live through this time together.
With the city’s phased reopening now under way, I want to give you an update on the plans we are developing for the reopening of Trinity Church for in-person worship.
I think you know how much I miss seeing you, and I know we’re eager to worship together once again. But it’s important to remember that we are still in the midst of a pandemic. I want to reiterate that our focus remains on the health and safety of our congregation. We have been working, and will continue to work, on understanding the implications of guidelines from the city, state, and our diocese. What we all know is that there will be no return to “normal” anytime soon.
The first thing we’ll be doing over the summer is enhancing our online services during the week and on Sundays at 11:15 am. We are so blessed to be able to offer beautiful online worship, and while attending church online isn’t the same as being in person, it is where our community can gather today. I know that many of you won’t feel comfortable returning to a church building for some time, and that is perfectly fine. I hope you’ll continue to join us online.
We are centering our plans on a return to limited in-person worship beginning Tuesday, Sept. 8 (the day after Labor Day), with the 12:05 pm service at Trinity Church. Beginning our own reopening with weekday services will allow us to test our revised liturgical practices, social distancing, and security plans before resuming in-person Sunday services. Assuming all goes well with weekday services, we would reopen Trinity Church for the 11:15 am service on Sunday, Sept. 13. Other than for the services mentioned, Trinity Church and St. Paul’s Chapel, as well as the churchyards, are expected to remain closed to the public.
As you can imagine, there are many, many specifics to work out. At the very least, we will be employing social distancing measures; revising procedures for the Eucharist; requiring that face masks be worn by all participants (including clergy); and limiting the number of people who can be in the church. We will follow up over the summer with detailed plans on what in-person services will look like, and we will continue to work with the Congregational Council and other members of the congregation who are involved in these discussions. In addition to following government and diocesan guidelines, we have hired a public health expert to review and advise on our plans. We will do our best to be as thorough as possible in both planning and communicating.
In the coming weeks and months, you may see other houses of worship reopen across the city. That is their prerogative; mine is to do all I can to keep you safe. I would much rather look back and say we reopened our churches too late, than too soon.
At Trinity, summer is usually a time of rest – of breathing deeply between the end of a program year full of activities, and the beginning of a new one in September. I’d argue that this year, we need summer rest even more, so that we can reflect on what has happened in the world in the past few months and prepare for the “new normal” that’s ahead.
Be safe, take care of one another, and know that you remain in my prayers.
The Rev. Phillip A. Jackson
Priest-in-charge and Vicar