Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Dear people of St John’s,

With the Governor’s most recent guidance on “turning the dial” to loosen some COVID restrictions, and the fact that both Minnesota and Hennepin County have trended below 5% positivity rate for COVID, we are now able to envision more ways to gather together in person in our beautiful sanctuary! These changes build on the information we shared in early March and follow the required “return to church safety plan” approved by the Episcopal Church of Minnesota.

More details will be shared as dates get closer – but, God willing, here’s what we have planned. All events will follow safety protocols, including masks and social distancing:

Upcoming in-person outdoor services of Holy Eucharist at Beard’s Plaisance:

  • April 4, Easter Sunday:
    • Service of Holy Eucharist at 10:00am at Beard’s Plaisance
    • Outdoor Children’s Chapel offered during service
    • Outdoor Easter Egg Hunt at Beard’s Plaisance for children at 11:00am
    • No Adult Education
    • Opportunity to sit in small groups in prayer in the sanctuary from 12:00pm – 2:00pm
    • Pre-recorded service also offered for those who prefer it
  • April 18, The Third Sunday of Easter, Earth Day Sunday:
    • Service of Holy Eucharist at 9:00am at Beard’s Plaisance
    • Outdoor Children’s Chapel offered during service
    • Outdoor Adult Education at 10:00am (no Zoom option for adult education this week)
    • Virtual worship service option for those who prefer it
  • May 23 – Pentecost Sunday
    • Service of Holy Eucharist at 9:00am at Beard’s Plaisance
    • Outdoor Children’s Chapel offered during service
    • No Adult Education
    • Virtual worship service option for those who prefer it
  • June 20 – The Nativity of St. John the Baptist:
    • Service of Holy Eucharist at 9:00am at Beard’s Plaisance
    • Outdoor Children’s Chapel offered during service
    • Virtual worship service option for those who prefer it

The in-person indoor events will also require advance registration and have a maximum of 40 people:

Upcoming in-person indoor offerings at church:

  • Starting Sunday, May 2:
    • 9am in-person sanctuary weekly service of Holy Eucharist for senior citizens only (age 65+). This will be an 8am-style service with no music.
    • In-person gatherings at church (both outdoor and indoor) for children elementary age and younger will become possible. Families will be alerted to time and dates by Heather Miller, our Minister of Children, Youth and Families (youth@stjohns-mpls.org)
  • Starting Sunday, May 30:
    • 8am (no music) and 10am in-person sanctuary weekly services of Holy Eucharist for any age. Music will be provided at the 10am service, but there will not be congregational singing.
    • Children’s Chapel will be offered during the 10am service.
    •  Services will be livestreamed and/or recorded for those who prefer a virtual option.

What we will continue:

  • Now through May 16: Our pre-recorded Sunday services and links to use at your convenience.
  • Now through May 16: Adult Education hour, Sunday’s 10am, on Zoom (except April 18, when Adult Education will be in person only).
  • Now until May 23: Noonday Prayer will continue on Zoom Monday-Friday at noon, and Evening Prayer will continue on Zoom Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6:30pm

What else will change:

  • Beginning May 23, the Sunday 10:00am Adult Education hour will be on hiatus until the fall; but other Summer Adult Education opportunities will be offered (stay tuned for more details).
  • Noonday prayer schedule will begin a summer schedule of only Tuesdays and Thursdays on Zoom; Evening Prayer will be discontinued.

Important: Volunteers needed

We’re so excited to be able to start transitioning back to in-person services! And, this moment of transition and return will require many hands on deck to ensure we can come back together safely. In particular, there are five roles we need additional volunteers to help fill: 1) Altar Guild, 2) Ushers, 3) Greeters, 4) Cleaners between services, 5) Technology/Filming support. Each of these are critically important jobs in the life of the church and we particularly need new people to join us as we move back into the building and offer some online and outdoor options. If you are interested in volunteering (or just learning more) about these roles, please reach out to the people listed below. Thank you for considering being part of these ministries!

What else is coming?

While no one has a crystal ball, our hope and prayer is that we can return to full in-person worship in August or September. This will depend on current vaccination and COVID rates, and ECMN, MN Dept Health, and CDC guidelines. We will continue to monitor Hennepin County 7-day COVID positivity rates. If they again approach or exceed 5%, we will have to go back to our former online-only worship, though we have every hope that this will not happen as more people are vaccinated.

We also plan to lead the congregation through reflection about what we have learned during this pandemic and how that impacts or changes our future worship and way of being church. If you would be willing to be part of the team that engages this deeper discernment, please email Lisa at lisa@stjohns-mpls.org.

Please share any comments, concerns or questions with me, as our staff prepares to once again open our red doors! I am delighted, and deeply moved, to even imagine seeing your lovely faces again, to break bread together, to pray and see one another in person. I can’t wait!

Faithfully, in Christ’s love,
Lisa
The Rev. Lisa Wiens Heinsohn, Rector
St. John’s Episcopal Church