CORONAVIRUS INFORMATION & RESPONSE

May 2021 Update from the Rector

St Stephen’s is opening its doors for limited in-person worship beginning Trinity Sunday, May 30, 2021 at 10:00 am in the Church Nave.

A huge “Thank You” to the re-opening committee who put in a great deal of work figuring out all the fine details between Washington State’s Safe Start Plan and the requirements of the Diocese of Olympia – and for their continuing work implementing that plan. It’s important to note that the building remains closed for our safety, and that ministry groups will continue to meet virtually (or as needed, outdoors), at this time. Our priority has been, and remains, your safety.

From the online poll, many of you are eager to return to in-person worship. Many of you are not. This is an invitation to return. All may, none must. You choose. But remember, this is a limited re-opening. It may not be possible for us to accommodate all who desire to attend on a particular Sunday, especially at first. We are limited by the continued requirements for physical distancing and the configuration of our pews. We will increase the numbers gradually, keeping in mind your safety and the directives of the governor and the diocese. And of course, we will continue to provide our worship services online for those who choose not to attend in-person at this time, and for our worshipping community at a distance.

So, how does this work?

  • Everyone who plans to attend in-person worship must register in advance. Registration will open on the Tuesday before the Sunday service you desire to attend. Registration will be handled by an online registration service. Those who are not able to access online content will be able to call our office for help in registering.
  • You will take your temperature before attending services, and will be asked to fill out the waiver and agreement form when you arrive. If you have a fever or are sick, please stay home.
  • Masks will be worn by everyone ages two and over throughout your attendance at St Stephen’s without exception. Remember, masks are for the safety of others, and we want to provide a safe and welcoming place for worship.
  • The only entry to the building will be at the main doors to the Narthex. Please plan on being at the church at least 15-30 minutes before the service start time. You will check in with our welcome team, and an usher will show you to a designated seat which is appropriately physically distanced from others attending the service. Since our pew configuration limits how we can seat people, an usher will help us place people so that we can have the maximum number of people allowed. That means you will not get to choose your seat while we are limited in our capacity. Once you are seated, please do not stray from your designated seat. (While restrooms will be available, restroom use before you are seated is the preferred option.)
  • You are invited to fully participate in the liturgy, either by downloading a bulletin from our website to use on your smartphone or tablet, or from the bulletin provided at the service. Some changes will be needed in familiar parts of the liturgy., The Peace will be shared with a bow or nod – there is no physical contact outside your own family group regardless of your vaccination status. We will be receiving the Eucharist in bread only at this time, and you will be given instructions for safely coming forward to receive.
  • At the Dismissal, ushers will assist you to leave keeping the usual physical distancing. You are asked not to linger in or around the buildings. There is no in-person Coffee Hour or other programming after the liturgy.

If there’s one thing we learned during this pandemic, it’s that plans made for one moment will need adapting to meet the all the changes of the next. Please be patient with us as we enter this next moment in the life of St Stephen’s. Know that the safety of this community will continue to be a priority even as we long to come together again in worship. We look forward to see where God is calling us into our future ministry together.

God’s richest blessings be yours,

Robert+

The Rev. Robert Beicke, Rector

St Stephen’s Sunday Worship Live Click Here

Update from the Rector

Dear People of God at St Stephen’s,

What a week this has been for all of us as we’ve heard about closure after closure of businesses, schools, our favorite theaters and musical venues, restaurants, festivals, and sporting events in response to this COVID-19 pandemic.

In response to the governor’s direction and the public health requirements, in conversation with clergy, and in deep discernment and prayer over the decision, the Bishop has decided to require the cancellation of all services and gatherings at all congregations in the Diocese of Olympia.

Just to be clear about this announcement:  St Stephen’s is closed to all public gatherings, events, and activities including worship services, all meetings, outside groups meeting at St Stephen’s, Kid’s Place, and any other scheduled groups on our calendar. 

I never thought I would see the day when I would have to make such an announcement, and it breaks my heart not to gather in worship with all the people I’ve come to love and care for as St Stephen’s Church. This closure will have a great impact on us all. It seems strange, goes counter to what many believe the church should be doing, and raises all kinds of questions for us all.

But we are still the Church together throughout all of this, and we will find creative ways to be that Church.

Watch for links to online worship services, ways we can stay connected, and ways we can respond with care and compassion in our community.

All of this will take a bit of time to put together, and our first attempts will be just that – things we will try, see what works and what doesn’t work, and try again. So if we don’t quite get it on the first attempt, hang tight. We’ll keep working at it. As my coach used to say: “keep running that play ‘til you get it right.”

We will get through these trying and challenging times. Perhaps we will come out even stronger as a community of faith for having to address those challenges. We enter this future not knowing where we go, but only that God’s hand is leading us and God’s love is supporting us.

As always, your companion of the journey,

Robert+

St Stephen’s Sunday Worship Live Click Here