COVID UPDATE

UPDATE: Thursday, June 10, 2021

As cases continue to decline and restrictions are lifted in many contexts in Minnesota, St. John’s will also begin to lift some of our restrictions. Because children under age 12 cannot yet be immunized, we do not believe it is wise to suspend the mask wearing requirement for indoor worship at this time. Here is what to expect over the next several Sundays:

  • This coming Sunday, June 13, all previous requirements remain in place (masks, pre-registering for services, social distancing in the sanctuary, and checking in).
  • Sunday June 20, at our outdoor service at Beard’s Plaisance, we will not require masks, but do encourage distancing between family groups so people can sing without restrictions!
  • Beginning Sunday June 27, we will continue to require mask wearing for indoor worship, but we will no longer require pre-registration, limits on the number of persons who attend, or any restriction on singing. We will continue to serve communion in one kind only, and wait to resume coffee hour.

As children aged 5-12 are anticipated to be immunized toward the end of the summer, our remaining restrictions will probably ease at that time. As always, since this pandemic has been a time of constant and rapid change, please continue to check the weekly e-news for the most current information.

If you have any questions or concerns about how we are lifting restrictions, please contact our Rector Lisa Wiens Heinsohn or Senior Warden Stacy Walters.

Past COVID Updates

UPDATE: Thursday, May 20, 2021

Recently the CDC, the Governor of Minnesota and our own Bishop Craig Loya have provided updated guidelines about COVID safety precautions, some of which have been relaxed or eliminated. Because Hennepin County positivity rates are now below 5%, and because vaccination rates are steadily climbing, we will begin our beautiful indoor worship including music and Eucharist every Sunday at 10:00am, starting May 30! (This coming Sunday May 23, we celebrate Pentecost outdoors at Beard’s Plaisance). We will also livestream these services so that you can access them remotely.

Because things remain very fluid, St. John’s leadership has decided not to select predetermined dates for our staged re-entry. Rather, we will update you on a month-by-month basis about what the following month’s COVID protocols will look like. This communication will always be in the Thursday e-News falling 1-2 weeks before the first of each month, and it will also be on the COVID page on our website.

Here is what you need to know about the indoor services in May-June (May 30, June 6, 13, and 27; June 20 is an outdoor service at Beard’s Plaisance):

  • We will begin with ONE service at 10:00am. We will increase the number of services based on attendance and need.
  • These services will be open to people of all ages.
  • For now, we are requesting people to register for the services in advance. SIGN UP FOR SERVICES HERE.
    • This will allow us to limit the number of persons in the sanctuary (depending on number of people per family unit).
    • If online registration is confusing, you can call our Seminary Intern Elizabeth Lienesch at (919) 636-0054 for help.
  • We will ask everyone to be masked at all times, and to maintain social distance between family units.
  • Bring a smartphone or tablet to access the service bulletin.
  • There will be music, but we are asking congregants to only hum, or to refrain from singing for now.
  • We will provide Eucharist with bread only.
  • We will not need health screening of attendees.
  • There will not yet be indoor coffee or refreshments.
  • There WILL be Children’s Chapel during the first part of the service.
  • There MAY be nursery from 9:45–11:15. Please check next week’s e-News (on May 26) to confirm.
  • We will also livestream the service so you can view it remotely.

As with all aspects of our lives right now, we are in transition, so you can expect some trial and error as we see what works. We have been so grateful to continue to journey together in life and faith, and can’t wait to see you in person in our beautiful sanctuary.

With any questions or concerns, you can always contact our Rector Lisa Wiens Heinsohn, Deacon Rex McKee, Senior Warden Stacy Walters, or Junior Warden Mark Lindberg.

UPDATE: Thursday, May 13, 2021

Because positivity rates remain at 5% in Hennepin County and several surrounding counties, we will not have indoor worship on May 16. Given that rates have steadily been declining, however, we hope to be able to begin limited, socially-distanced indoor services on Sunday, May 30.This plan is not yet confirmed, but we will let you know in next Thursday’s e-news either way. Please plan to RSVP to any indoor service you attend in order to ensure we do not exceed the number of people that can safely be in our sanctuary at this time.

UPDATE: Thursday, May 6, 2021

Because positivity rates remain above 5% in Hennepin and neighboring counties, we unfortunately must postpone our plans to have indoor worship until further notice.  Please check the e-news each week for updates about when our plans can resume.

UPDATE: Thursday, April 22, 2021

Because Hennepin County positivity rates remain at 7%, and up to 11% in neighboring counties, we unfortunately must postpone our plans and will not have indoor worship beginning on May 2 and until further notice.  Please check the e-news each week for updates about when our plans can resume.

UPDATE: Wednesday, April 14, 2021

As you may have seen, COVID cases in Hennepin County and throughout Minnesota have been rising sharply despite the huge numbers of people getting vaccinated. Currently, the 14-day positivity rate in Hennepin County is 7%. Unless these numbers go down, we will be forced to delay our current plans to resume limited indoor services for those 65 years old and older on May 2. However, because we believe we can minimize risk during outdoor services, we will still plan to have our outdoor services at Beard’s Plaisance this Sunday, April 18, as well as May 23 and June 20 regardless of what happens with our indoor worship plans.
We will be monitoring the positivity rate closely and will make a final decision about the May 2 indoor worship date and communicate that decision in next week’s e-news, on Thursday, April 22.
Thank you for your patience and understanding as we navigate these unprecedented times. We are seeking to provide indoor services as soon as we safely can. Meanwhile, we will continue to provide virtual options for worship every week until this pandemic is well and truly over. Please continue to pray for the St. John’s community and our nation throughout this time.

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 (NOTE TIME) 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 10:00am 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 10:00am 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 be limited to approximately 40 people:

Upcoming in-person indoor offerings at church:

  • Starting Sunday, May 2:
    • 9:00am in-person sanctuary weekly service of Holy Eucharist for senior citizens only (age 65+). This will be an 8am-style service with no music. SIGN UP FOR THESE SERVICES HERE
    • 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:
    • 8:00am (no music) and 10:00am 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. SIGN UP FOR THESE SERVICES HERE
    • 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).
  • After Memorial Day (May 31), 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