On Sunday, June 21st the Cathedral opened our doors for Sunday worship for the first time since mid-March. With all of the continued uncertainty around COVID19, the vestry made the decision in early June that for the remainder of the summer our primary emphasis for worship would be the continuation of our livestream of Morning Prayer. For those who wanted to return to in-person worship, we would open our doors to a maximum of 40 people to join us for this service as well. While we did not feel ready or able to offer multiple services, given the cleaning and added volunteer requirements to accomplish this in a safe way, we did feel that we could safely open for one service each week. The size and layout of the Cathedral made this decision one that we felt we could make with confidence, as we have ample room for socially-distanced seating, separate entrances and exits from the church, sliding doors that allowed congregants to enter and exit without touching door handles. Time was spent preparing the space by removing hymnals and prayerbooks, marking and closing pews to indicate socially distanced seating options, and our most wonderful administrative assistant organized registration for the service to make sure we would not need to turn anyone away at the door and to keep records as necessary.
Sunday morning was far from normal, and not what we would choose if we could, but even with all of the regulations in place (including no singing!) it was very, very good to be together again. We did not reach capacity, which was not surprising given the increase in active COVID-19 cases in the city, but to have that small representation of our beloved congregation together was a gift. Since the beginning of ‘coronatide,' we made the decision to livestream our service. This was not always the easiest, or smoothest mode of communication, but we made this choice so that even when we could not see each other, we knew that we were all still praying together at the same time. Welcoming even just a few parishioners back into the church this past Sunday was a visible reminder of all who continue to pray with us across the city and a reminder of just how important it is that we do worship together, in one way or another.
We will continue with this pattern of worship for the remainder of the summer and then assess what will come next in the fall. I look forward to continuing to reopen this sacred space for worship and prayer as we feel safe and ready to do so. I am also aware that many members of All Saints’ will not be able to join us at the Cathedral for many more months to come and so we will now move into another 'new normal,' as we welcome some people in person and continue to welcome others through online options for study and worship.