ALL ARE WELCOME AT
St. Andrew's Episcopal
The Episcopal Church in Mountain Home, Arkansas
Dear siblings in Christ,
Previously we sent out a letter to members of the congregation explaining where we are at in terms of a plan to return to in-person worship. It was a rather lengthy letter, but sought to offer some of the guidelines we are working with and an understanding of what needs to be in place to return.
The first thing to say is that we are still in the midst of a public health crisis. Regardless of how long it has gone on for or how tired of it we may be, we are still fighting a virus with no cures. In 5 months we have had almost 120,000 people die in this country alone. Reopening church does not mean it is safe to return, but that hopefully our medical infrastructure can now handle the amount of cases that will occur as we return to normal activities.
I cannot overstate that attending church is one of the highest risk activities you can partake in. It is a large gathering of people from all over, who have been to many other places, possibly not those following standard safety procedures, and you are sitting for an extended amount of time in one room with all of these people. Unlike grocery shopping, where you get in and get out, this is a period of time where you remain in the same place for extended periods.
In this communication, I want to outline the specific guidelines that will be enforced when we reopen. These guidelines are taken from the State of Arkansas Department of Health and the Bishop of Arkansas's directives, and are done so based on the most recent available research per the CDC.
We will begin in-person worship on the weekend of June 27th-28th. There will be three service times:
5pm Saturday evening - Rite II
8am Sunday morning - Rite I
10:30 Sunday morning - Rite II (this service will be live-streamed)
We will be reaching out this week to begin the signup for the 27th and 28th. We will also need a reader to volunteer for each service. I am also thankful for those that have volunteered to help clean between services. A rota will be sent out soon for them. It will also be helpful to have ushers to assist in directing movement of folks. Together, we will get through this in the safest possible manner.
Earlier this week we sent out an email outlining the change to our worship this Sunday.
Over the ensuing days I have been trying to perfect the technology we have at our disposal.
As with anything tech related, everytime you try a new solution to a problem, six new problems show themselves.
We are still on schedule to livestream the service at 9am on Sunday morning. If you can't watch it that earlier, it is recorded and you can go back and watch it later.
The change is that we must move platforms from Youtube to Facebook. I did not want to make this change but Youtube won't allow me to livestream directly from my phone. We are working on more permanent solutions, but for now this is our stopgap.
To watch the service on Sunday morning, go to:
I think you will be able to see it without having to log in.
I want to emphasize that we will only be using Facebook hopefully for a short time before we get a better livestreaming solution as part of our return to in-person worship. Look for more information about that soon.
Blessings on you all, and I greatly appreciate your patience and grace as we navigate these complicated times.
A Letter from Bishop Benfield
On Monday I sent a guideline for reopening congregations to our churches, stating that for about half of our congregations, it will be possible to begin some form of in-person worship on Sunday, May 31. Whether or not your congregation will choose to have outdoor, indoor, or online worship will depend in part on the active Covid-19 cases in your county. Many of our rural congregations are in areas where there has been little infection, while urban areas have been hit more severely. We will keep tracking cases in each county every week to help with ongoing congregational decisions. A surge in infections might require a return to online worship in some places.
Under no circumstances should your congregation begin in-person worship unless your leadership feels comfortable and able to do so, and congregations should find ways to accommodate individuals who remain at home because they are not ready to join a large number of other people in a worship service.
This is a new adventure for the church. For example, for the time being even our larger congregations with resident priests will get more experience with Morning Prayer than has been the case in the past. We need to figure out how to stay safe in the very act of gathering before we add the complexity of distributing Holy Communion.
We can find creative ways to continue to be active, worshiping, outwardly-focused congregations in the coming weeks and months. The church has endured and grown and changed through times of pestilence and plague throughout its history. We will do so again. I thank each of you for your continued support of the church—and especially for one another and the most vulnerable among us—in this challenging time. We can step forward with confidence in our mission and continue to serve the world around us.
Due to COVID-19 in-person attendance requires signing up for attendance.
Email St. Andrew’s
511 Coley Drive
Mountain Home, AR 72653
Tuesday–Thursday, 8:30 a.m.–12 p.m.