My Fellow Parishioners,
As we continue to move together toward the end of the pandemic (God willing!), and as we are all in the process of reuniting with friends and family, as well as with our “parish family” so that we can once again worship together in faith and fellowship, I wanted to provide you with an update about our church’s policies.
You are likely already aware that on May 7, 2021 Governor Sununu changed the legal requirement to wear masks, maintain social distancing, and avoid shared implements/objects within houses of worship. We now have a set of “Universal Guidelines” generally applicable to all businesses and activities within the State of New Hampshire. These new Universal Guidelines recommend, but do not require, that people continue follow all CDC guidelines and all state guidelines, which include the recommendation to continue to wear masks, engage in social distancing, and avoid sharing objects under most circumstances. These new state Universal Guidelines provide all businesses/organizations the opportunity to make their own rules about what they require.
The Parish Council has reviewed the new state guidance, statewide vaccine percentages, and related topics. We have established the following rules for our church:
- If you do not feel well, are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, or are not fully vaccinated and have been exposed to a known positive case of COVID-19, please stay home and watch our services via the live-stream.
- Please continue to use good hand hygiene, cover your face with your elbow if you must cough or sneeze, and follow similar best practices.
- Everyone is asked to please continue to wear a mask while inside the church as a courtesy to parishioners who may not yet feel comfortable being inside an enclosed space with non-household members. Wearing masks is not required, and the Parish Council will no longer be instructing people to put masks on/keep them on.
- There is no longer a need to “sign in” to the log book. If we are made aware of an outbreak at church, or another COVID related concern, we will send a parish-wide e-mail as necessary to inform the community, and would ask everyone to spread the word among those who may not use e-mail.
- Hand sanitizer will remain available, and using hand sanitizer is encouraged, but there is no longer a requirement to use hand sanitizer when entering the church.
- Please continue to venerate the icons at a distance without touching/kissing them.
- You may light your own 7-day Memorial candles and place them in the candle stands by the Soleas. Of course, if you prefer the Parish Council members on duty do this for you, we will be happy to continue to do so (as we did before the pandemic). Please just ask.
- We will maintain the practice of social distancing by keeping every other pew roped off, asking separate household groups/members to continue to sit 6 feet apart from each other, and asking parishioners to stand 6 feet apart from those who are not household members when in line to receive Holy Communion or Antidoron. Parish Council Members will no longer “dismiss” each pew one by one in an effort to enforce social distancing. Therefore, we ask everyone to use their judgment and to maintain appropriate spacing when approaching the Soleas.
- At the end of Liturgy, offerings will continue to be collected in a tray located in the Narthex as parishioners exit the church – we still will not be passing the trays.
- Parishioners are still asked to exit the church promptly at the conclusion of services, and not to gather or congregate in the Narthex.
Coffee Hours after Liturgy will be restarting on a limited basis before our customary “summer break”. Please keep an eye on the weekly bulletin for updates about this.
We are aware that as of yesterday, the CDC changed its guidance to say that fully vaccinated persons don’t need to wear masks inside or maintain social distancing, but at present, we are going to maintain our rules in a more conservative manner as described above. The Parish Council will continue to review vaccine percentages, these rules, what other businesses/organizations are doing, etc., on a monthly basis at its meetings (and more often, if necessary), as well as to do our best stay up to date on the changing state and federal guidance. Our end goal is to safely work toward getting back to “normal”.
Please know that these decisions were not made lightly, and that it is likely impossible to set rules that would satisfy everyone. Therefore, so that we can continue to try to do our best to serve this community, please feel free to reach out to me or any member of the Parish Council if you have feedback. You can e-mail me directly at email@example.com, or if you’d like to speak by phone, the best way to reach me is during business hours at my office (603) 742-5222, or outside of business hours on my cell phone at (603) 785-9508.
All parishioners are asked to please respect these rules, and to remember that as Christians, we should be courteous to, and respectful of, others.
Thank you for your continued assistance and understanding.
Abby Sykas Karoutas, PC President