Updates from the Bishops

This area will be updated as directives from our Bishop and Government Officials changes as this health crisis unfolds.

Please remember if you have any questions don’t hesitate to call the office at 314-843-0123. Please leave a message, and someone will return your call shortly.

When can we return to church?

MAY 27,2020

UPDATED GUIDANCE FOR IN-PERSON GATHERINGS FOR THE DIOCESE OF MISSOURI

“One bread, one body, one Lord of all, one cup of blessing which we bless.And we, though many, throughout the earth,we are one body in this one Lord.” -John B. FoleyAs followers of Jesus Christ, we gather at table to re-member, to be re-united as one, with our spiritual ancestors and to recall our Savior’s life, death, and resurrection. For Episcopalians the Holy Eucharist is not simply a reenactment of an event long past,but stepping out of time to be present in the Upper Room with Jesus and his disciples on the night before he died. The Holy Eucharist is therefore central to our understanding of who we are as Christ-followers. Over the last few months, we have fasted from receiving the sacrament and have practiced spiritual communion with our sisters and brothers across the diocese and across the world. This time of pandemic has heightened the sense that we, “though many, throughout the earth, we are one body in this one Lord.” Now, in this season of preparing for in-person worship in the Diocese of Missouri, we are mindful that Jesus offers himself to us and joins our lives to his even when we are not able to gather or to receive Holy Communion. While COVID-19 continues to be a part of our lives, and until such a time as a vaccine is developed, the best way we can love our neighbors is to continue those practices that science tells us will keep us safe. The following guidelines are to allow for the safe distribution of Holy Communion, should your community of faith choose to celebrate the Eucharist at in-person gatherings after June 1, 2020.

GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS AT RISK MEMBERS:

Those older than 65 years old, with a compromised health condition caring for the sick in any way, are encouraged to refrain from in-person worship at this time.  Anyone who is ill, has a temperature, cough, respiratory infection etc., should stay home as an act of justice to the whole community.

PHYSICAL DISTANCING: Physical distancing is to be observed and signified by signs, tape, or other means. This includes both indoor and outdoor areas.

NUMBER IN ATTENDANCE: In-person worship offered indoors will be limited in attendance, depending on the guidelines set by public authorities (10% of total room capacity as of 5/26/2020)

CONGREGATIONAL SEATING: Mindful of limitations and the physical layout of the church, seating should be clearly marked to allow for physical distancing(such as seating people in alternating pews with a 2-pew separation or seating in different sections for different Masses).those living in the same household may sit together without distancing.

FACE COVERINGS/MASKS: Masks are to be worn by everyone, including the clergy, when approaching church and inside church (except for those under 2 years old per CDC guidelines).

COLLECTION:Basketsor offering platesshould not be passed from person to person.

FONTS AND HOLY WATER RECEPTACLES:All containers for Holy Water should be drained and left empty at this time.

MUSIC/SINGING:Music is considered an element of prayer and is therefore an important part of worship. Singing during in-person worshipis strongly discouraged. oHealth experts indicate that singing produces 6-10x more droplets from our mouths than speaking. Keeping singing to a minimum is advised and the congregation should not remove their masks to sing. oIf there is a “choir” present, it should be as small as possible with each member spaced about 10’-15’apart.instrumental music is encouraged along with the play of hymns with the recitation of the text by the congregation. GUIDANCE FOR THE DISTRIBUTION OF COMMUNIONThese guidelines are intended to aid in the safe distribution of Communion for in-person worship. At the start of liturgy, in printed bulletins, and again at the time of Communion, the priest should explain how Holy Communion will be distributed.During the Eucharistic Prayer, the Celebrant’s mask may be removed, provided that the containers for the bread and wine remain covered (a pall or purificator may be used for this purpose). The distribution and consumption of the consecrated wine is suspended for clergy and laity. The chalice should be consecrated and reverently disposed of after the liturgy. The priest, deacon, or lay ministerwhiledistributing communion mustwear a mask. The use of the altar rail for the distribution of communion is suspended. oCommunion “stations” are encouraged with the clergy person or the Eucharistic Minister standing in a central location wearing a mask to distribute communion. The floors/aisles should be clearly marked at 6’intervals to ensure proper physical distancing. Maintaining a single-file is necessary for the distribution of Communion.Multiple Communion ministers may be used as long as one-way traffic patterns are observed.Communion is to be received in the hand only. When approaching to receive communion, the communicant should lower their mask below their chin in order to prepare to receive.The communicant immediately replaces their mask after consuming the bread.Those distributing communion must sanitize their hands immediately before and after distributing Communion, and when at all possible, should utilize a sanitizing solution (at least 60% ethanol or 70% isopropyl alcohol) to sanitize their fingers when incidental contact is made with someone receiving communion.

DISTRIBUTION OF COMMUNION TO THOSE WHO ARE NOT PHYSICALLY PRESENT FOR IN-PERSON WORSHIP.The Book of Common Prayer allows for the distribution of communion to those who aresick or to those who are unable to be present for the public celebration of the Holy Eucharist. During this time of pandemic the distribution of communion to members of the parish at home should be done as soon as possible following the celebration of the Holy EucharistThe Consecrated bread may be delivered to those who are homebound provided that: oThere is no physical contact oThe bread has been individually wrapped/prepared with limited contact. after participating in the online celebration of the Holy Eucharist. oBy the clergy at any time following the celebration of the Holy Eucharist.oBy Eucharistic visitors only on the day in which the Eucharist was celebrated. Along with the bread the following prayers are to be included: Before Receiving Communion Be present, be present, O Jesus, our great High Priest, as you were present with your disciples, and be known to us in the breaking of bread; who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and forever.Amen.After Receiving CommunionO Lord Jesus Christ, who in a wonderful Sacrament has left unto us a memorial of your passion: Grant us, we pray, so to venerate the sacred mysteries of yourBody and blood, that we may ever perceive within ourselves the fruit of your redemption; who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.Amen.Please contact the Office of the Bishop with any questions.

Wednesday May 13, 2020

Updated reopening guidelines 5.13.20

UPDATED GUIDANCE FOR IN-PERSON GATHERINGS FOR THE DIOCESE OF MISSOURI MAY 13, 2020, FRANCIS PERKINS, PUBLIC SERVANT AND PROPHETIC WITNESS, 1965

UPDATED HEALTH CHARACTERISTICS

* A sustained reduction in cases for at least 14 days.

* Hospitals are safely able to treat all patients requiring inpatient care.

* The city/county/state is testing all people with COVID-19 symptoms.

* Able to conduct active monitoring of confirmed cases and their contacts.

*Contact tracing is possible and readily available.

*A record of in-person attendees at worship services is kept.

CHURCH PROTOCOLS AFTER JUNE 1, 2020

* Church offices may open in spaces large enough for physical distancing.

* Smaller churches may worship in spaces large enough for physical distancing.

* Scaleable worship 10, 50, 100–in virtual groups and in-person groups, or in spaces large enough for physical distancing.

*Continued virtual worship opportunities.

* In-person pastoral visits resume to low risk parishioners.

* Practice health safety protocols around masks and cleaning.

*Outbreaks in virus will mean returning to suspension of in-person gatherings for 14 days.

CELEBRATIONS OF THE HOLY EUCHARIST MUST CONFORM TO THE FOLLOWING GUIDELINES:

* Clergy must wash their hands with soap and water before services and use hand sanitizer visibly before distributing communion. If a clergy person or parishioner feels sick or has any symptoms, they should remain at home.

* We strongly advise against using the common cup. Though it may seem counterintuitive, intinction is not a safer choice. Please remember that receiving in one kind (bread or wafer only) is full participation in the Eucharist and congregations may consider making provision for distribution without the use of a common cup.

*Singing and the use of choirs are prohibited at this time. Soloists at a safe distance may offer music during worship.

* Playing the tune of hymns and reciting the words is encouraged.

GUIDELINES FOR WORSHIP FROM THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDING BISHOP:

* “Drive-thru” Eucharist is prohibited.

* “Virtual communion” in which a minister “blesses” bread and wine through a phone or online connection is prohibited.

* Graveside funerals of ten people or fewer are permitted, while following physical distancing and mask guidelines

* Outdoor weddings of ten people or fewer are permitted, while following physical distancing and mask guidelines

Monday May 04, 2020

“There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.”

– Ephesians 4:4-6

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

Our lives, our church, and our world have changed drastically since the emergence of COVID-19. The past few weeks have been filled with sorrows and blessings, challenges and opportunities, losses and celebrations. There is much to grieve and much to celebrate. God has indeed been our refuge and our strength during this time of trouble.

As we continue to live more fully into transition here in the Diocese of Missouri, none of us could have imagined the context in which we find ourselves. While it has been complicated and challenging in many ways, it has also been a deeply energizing and life-giving experience to walk this journey with you. You have demonstrated in countless ways the pioneering, creative, and innovative spirit that forms our spiritual DNA here in Missouri. We have discovered anew that we are one body together in the risen Christ.

As developments around COVID-19 continue to manifest at a rapidly changing rate, communities of faith in the Diocese of Missouri will continue to be closed at least until May 31, 2020. This inevitably leads to the question, “When can we return to worship?”

Following the guidance of health experts, in-person worship may resume in the Diocese of Missouri on June 1, 2020, provided that the following criteria are met: 

  • COVID-19 cases are on the decline for 14 days in your county. 
  • Testing is available for those showing symptoms.1 
  • A plan to safely resume worship is submitted to the Bishop’s office. 

When these conditions are met, the Bishop’s office may give permission to return to in-person worship following appropriate guidelines as outlined in this document and recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control, and the local Department of Health and Public Safety. Even when in-person worship resumes, we will not “get back to normal” for some time.

The guidance that follows is intended to address this new reality in which we find ourselves and the practical reality of continuing the work of Christ in the world. It is intended to be a resource for clergy, vestries and bishop’s committees to consider in advance of offering in-person worship. Setting clear expectations and sharing plans with our communities in advance, will help tremendously in making the return to in-person worship joyful, meaningful, and above all safe.

As we chart this new course, may God bless and keep you, those you love, and those whom you serve, now and always.

The Rt. Rev. Wayne Smith                                     The Rev. Deon K. Johnson
10th Bishop of Missouri                                          11th Bishop-elect of Missouri

Download this letter plus the Updated Guidance for Clergy and Congregations

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Dear Adventers,

It seems like things are changing hourly! This crisis is stretching our abilities to shift and adapt, but we are up to challenge. God’s Spirit is still moving among us as we persevere, and stay connected, and use our heads to keep ourselves and our neighbors safe.

Yesterday, at the online clergy meeting, Bishop Smith and Bishop-Elect Johnson strengthened the “stay at home directive” for worship and church business operations in the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri. Their directive from the diocesan website is posted below.

For us at Church of the Advent it means three things, at this point. First, we’ll need to cancel our plan for distributing palms for Palm Sunday. It saddens us to do so, but it seems the wisest course in the interests of health and safety. The palms have been delivered to church, so they are on site. We will use them in future live services, just not this weekend!

Second, it means we will no longer live stream services from church, as we did on the last two Sundays. Instead, we will offer Palm Sunday worship with Spiritual Communion from our homes to your homes. As you are able, join us this Sunday morning, April 5th, at 10:15 am just as you did last week, either on the Advent Facebook page or the Advent website. Like the last 2 weeks, the service will be sent via e-blast on Saturday and it will be posted on our website. If you know someone that needs to have the service sent via the USPS please inform Jessica.

Finally, and again following the bishops’ directions, we need to “stay away from the church building.” We must minimize time and physical contact in the church as much as possible. As of now, the Virtual Easter Egg Hunt is still on for Saturday April 11, 2020 from 10:00AM to 12:00PM. No one will be at church, on the property or in the building, folks will just be driving by.

We Episcopalians have always believed that when we worship we join the greater Body of Christ that lives and serves across time and distance. These days we are leaning into that conviction in concrete and immediate ways like never before. So keep adapting and shifting. Pray and have faith. And we’ll “see” you online on Sunday!

April 01, 2020

The Rt. Rev. George Wayne Smith, in consultation with Bishop-elect Deon Johnson, issued a directive today for all clergy in the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri to end all worship gatherings inside their church buildings, including livestream and recorded services. He is also asking all clergy and staff to work from home. This directive comes in response to the growing number of COVID-19 cases throughout our area and takes effect at the end of the workday, Thursday, April 2.

Bishop Smith made the announcement during his regular weekly Zoom meeting with diocesan clergy. He said he wants to offer clear direction as we move forward for the health and safety of everyone in our diocese.

Bishop Smith and Bishop-elect Deon Johnson ordered the suspension of in-person worship throughout the Diocese on March 16. That suspension is in effect until May 31, when it will be reevaluated. They now want our clergy members to join our congregations in their eucharistic fast. “We need to be in this together,” Bishop Smith said.

Since the suspension of in-person worship, many clergy members have been offering live or recorded services from their churches via social media channels. The events have served as a way for parishes to stay connected. Although all have been following physical distancing guidelines during those recordings, Bishop Smith says gathering even small groups in the buildings poses too much of a health risk right now.

The bishop acknowledges that there can and will be pastoral exceptions to these new directives. Clergy members should speak directly with him and Bishop-elect Johnson about those cases. Feeding ministries can continue to operate out of the buildings, as long as previously outlined safety protocols are followed.

In the second part of his directive, Bishop Smith encourages all clergy and staff to take the materials and equipment they need from their offices to work at home. “We need to eliminate physical contact as much as possible,” the bishop said. If there is work that can only be done from the office, he urges everyone to minimize their time and physical contact in the church as much as possible.

The Bishop’s office will be following these new orders, with all staff members working from home. Everyone can be reached through email and cell phones. The office phone has been forwarded to receptionist and administrative assistant Tracy Grisby, who will take messages and redirect calls.

Bishop-elect Johnson said he and other priests are working on plans to offer a live Easter service to the Diocese, likely using a Zoom webinar format that will also be available on Facebook. More details will be announced soon.

During the conference call, several priests and deacons said they have members who have tested positive for COVID-19 and many others who are waiting for test results. Some are hospitalized. Bishop Smith said he has been urging Missouri Governor Mike Parson to issue a statewide stay at home order, which the governor has yet to do. The city of St. Louis and St. Louis County have been under a stay at home order since March 23.

https://www.diocesemo.org/news/2020/04/01/bishop-issues-new-directive-combat-covid-19

Monday, March 23, 2020

It was the Big Lebowski who said, “The Dude abides.” It was the Apostle Paul who taught that the Body of Christ adapts and grows. That’s what we’re doing, Adventers. We’re being the Body of Christ, responding and adapting and moving forward during these trying days. Keep up the good work. Keep praying that God will protect us, and bless us, and use us to bless others.

Over the weekend we received some helpful information from our bishops, guidance as we move forward in the Diocese of Missouri and at Church of the Advent. The following are lifted directly from the bishops’ “Updated Guidance” and are directly pertinent for us:

Public Worship

At this time we are extending the call for a fast from public worship in solidarity with the most vulnerable among us until May 31, 2020, at which time we will reevaluate the ongoing situation.

Public Gatherings

Both outdoor and indoor gatherings must be limited to ten (10) people or less while conforming to the six (6) feet of physical distancing.

Baptisms, Funerals, and Weddings

At this time Emergency Baptisms, when the pastoral need arises, are the only baptisms to take place.

While the prohibitions for gatherings of more than ten (10) people are in place, funerals involving a body are to be conducted at the graveside only with immediate family conforming to the physical distancing guidance distributed by the Centers for Disease Control and the local Department of Health. It is recommended that memorial services be scheduled at a later date for those who have been bodily interred.

Funeral services for those who have been cremated can be scheduled at a later date.

During this time of physical distancing, gathering to celebrate weddings is suspended until such a time as gatherings of more than 50 are allowed.

Pastoral Visits

We are encouraging churches to find creative ways of staying in touch with those who are isolated and vulnerable and to give them spiritual support and also practical support as far as possible. At this time only clergy, or designated Eucharistic Ministers or Pastoral caregivers, are to make pastoral visits.

The bishops also included a prayer, and we can take heart in it.

O God, the protector of all who trust in you, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy: Increase and multiply upon us your mercy; that, with you as our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we lose not the things eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.