At our 16 June “Virtual Vestry Meeting,” we spent most of our time discussing the how, what, and when of regathering in our building on 45 Main Street. Echoing the words of a well-worn adage, our rector, Anne, began the discussion by reminding us that “our job is simply to do the next faithful thing.” We take comfort in the knowledge that God remains with us in these times of uncertainty and difficult decisions for our future. Fortunately for us, the Diocese of Southern Virginia released extensive “Regathering Guidelines” to assist parishes like ours in planning for the future, with safety for all participants as the paramount concern. In accordance with those guidelines, vestry member Joel Duregger has taken on the role of “Health Coordinator” to lead our preparation efforts, including the development of our official regathering plan. Bishop Susan Haynes must approve this plan before any in-person worship occurs.
The vestry does not take lightly the tremendous responsibility of providing the safest space possible for parishioners, staff, clergy, and visitors alike. To that end, a subcommittee has been formed to create a parish-wide survey. Survey results will provide the vestry and clergy a better understanding of the current feelings and desires of parishioners. Please plan to complete this survey as soon as it is made available. This will allow the vestry to operate with the most accurate information possible. Please do not hesitate to reach out to a vestry member with any questions or concerns.
Finally, and in a nod to the “elephant in the room,” this article will not provide a specific date when in-person services will resume at St. Andrew’s. That day will come; however, much planning, prayer, and discernment must occur before it does. In the meantime, here are several specific pieces of information you may find helpful. (1) The vestry remains grounded in authoring a plan for regathering, with its central principle taken from Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s helpful reminder that “God’s rubric of love shows us the way.” (2) A key component of the success of any plan the vestry develops depends on parishioners respecting others’ personal decisions about when they feel safe enough to return to in-person worship (in the building). (3) Regardless of when we regather in the church, worship will also be streamed in some virtual format to ensure those most comfortable or able to worship from home may continue to do so. (4) While the vestry understands and shares the sense of loss and grief of what will be “missing,” it takes heart in the knowledge that God has been with us and will continue to be, and we ask that parishioners continually remind each other of this truth – a cornerstone of our faith.