October 29, 2020
Beloved St. John’s community,
I know it’s been a long time since I’ve updated you on St. John’s COVID-19 building use guidelines and plans. Because of this, I wanted to remind you what we are currently doing and when that might shift. Occasionally some of you have asked whether a group might use the building for a single event, and unfortunately right now the answer needs to continue to be no, but I’d like to explain more about why that is.
We are following the Episcopal Church in Minnesota’s “Phases of Re-Gathering” document, which continues to be updated periodically based on the most recent scientific information available to us locally and nationally. Based on that document we are on “Phase 1.5” of three phases. Phase 1.5 will continue until Hennepin County AND Minnesota positivity rates drop below 5%. As of the week ending 10/22, Minnesota’s positivity rate was 5.2% and Hennepin County’s positivity rate was 6.6%, and has been trending toward increasing. During this phase:
- Building is closed to visitors
- Staff is working primarily from home
- Only the daycare currently uses the building on a regular basis
- All other small groups, both church and otherwise (including AA, Chair Yoga, etc.) may not currently use the building, either for regular or single-opportunity use
- We do occasional recording or livestreaming of services in the building, with ministers only present–but mostly record separately, for the safety of medically vulnerable staff and their families.
- We may do very occasional services outside, taking great care to observe all Minnesota and ECMN guidelines to minimize risk
When positivity rates drop below 5% in both Hennepin County and Minnesota, we may move to “Phase 2,” which would involve the possibility of services or events held with small groups of people, with social distancing, tracing and safety practices in place. We will not have an unlimited Phase 3 or “return to normal” until there is a widely available vaccine and we follow whatever is then recommended by ECMN and the Minnesota Department of Health.
Dear ones, I know this is beyond anything any of us ever anticipated. It looks like we’ve got several more months of Phase 1.5 ahead, and an unknown duration of Phase 2. But keep the faith! We will worship together in person again, and that will be a truly wonderful day indeed. Meanwhile, we continue to worship together in many ways. I encourage you to persevere with St. John’s online worship, which continually morphs and changes based on what we are learning and hearing from you.
Thank you with all my heart for your continued engagement in the life and ministry of St. John’s!