The Next Phase of Our Worship Life
Thank you for your online and in-person participation in Holy Week services at All Saints’. I am moved by the sense of hope and joy that still runs deep in the congregation more than a year after we were separated from each other by the COVID-19 pandemic. I am meeting with the Worship Team and Worship Production Team on April 11 to discuss our ongoing plans for worship as warmer weather arrives, COVID numbers drop (for now), and vaccination rates increase. I am mindful of the warnings from health officials not to move too quickly into “normalcy,” but also want to take advantage of the congregation’s demonstrated willingness to observe reasonable precautions, and position us for in-person worship as it’s appropriate.
Until the worship team can confer and adopt a shared vision for ongoing worship, I am going to make these changes to our Sunday worship. I imagine these changes will hold for the month of April, but the actual date will be chosen by the worship teams. Remember that these changes are temporary, and are subject to change. Here is what I anticipate we’ll be doing for April 11, 18, 25, and possibly beyond in some form:
10:30: Morning Prayer on Zoom continues as our primary service as before, but with these significant changes/features:
- The officiant, preacher, readers, organist, and singers all will exercise their roles from the church. (Steve, Gregory, and I, and all but one currently-scheduled cantor are vaccinated, and the one unvaccinated cantor is scheduled to be in the coming days.
- The readers appointed for the 10:30 a.m. service will be selected from the pool of those already vaccinated.
- Seating and Officiating locations: All liturgical ministers will be seated in the choir area and behind the communion rail, masked and socially distant, with singers seated toward the front to project the voice and breath toward the camera and away from other liturgical ministers. The Officiant and readers will speak from a standing mic that’s forward (close to the camera) in the center aisle between the choir stalls.
- The Prayers Moderator and Production Manager roles will continue as before and remain offsite for now, though I’d like to start experimenting soon with having Production Managers on-site, insofar as individual volunteers are comfortable doing so.
- Because the liturgical members themselves represent a small congregation, the presence of that group means we can eliminate the “response” roles and restore them to the congregation, which in turn means we need fewer readers. For now, I’m going to say two readers at 10:30. I realize that may create an issue in cases where four readers already are assigned, and please pass along my apology to anyone who’s disappointed. But I suspect there also are some readers who will not want to gather in person, even in such a small group.
- The music will be live, with Gregory and singers on-site. When singers are singing, they will be facing the pews, and all other participants will be behind them.
- Orders of service will continue to be produced as before. For now, we will continue with slides for words to music and prayers.
- Online participants will connect in the same say they always have, joining it as a Zoom meeting from the existing link at https://www.allsaints-austin.org/live-worship.
8 a.m.: Holy Eucharist, Rite Two
- Liturgically-simple, with a physical arrangement very similar to the Maundy Thursday service.
- Initially, no music
- Not offered online.
- Pre-registration required (information to follow).
- Excluding scheduled liturgical ministers, capped at 50 in the congregation.
- Liturgical Ministers: Celebrant, preacher (by May, this should be the same person as the celebrant), 1 or 2 readers (first lesson, Psalm TBD, prayers of the people), 2 ushers, 1 acolyte (if any available at 8), “floor manager” (i.e., Don as general purpose “in charge” person), building manager, parish administrator / registrar
Details that apply to both services:
- The clergy, readers, and music roles now will need to be on-site participants, but no one person should feel pressured in any way to accept that role unless/until they’re comfortable.
- There will be no processions.
- Readers and singers do not need to vest.
- Masking and distancing will be required at all times. The HVAC system will be set for constant air circulation at 10:30.
- No gathering in the sacristy. Get in and get out.
- On-site participants should be arrive and be in place ideally a half hour before the service starts, and definitely no later than 20 minutes before.
- For under age 18 in any liturgical role, one or more family member may be seated in the congregation, and must observe masking and distancing roles.
- No administration of the chalice.
I’m looking forward to this next phase of our plan to move prudently but confidently and joyfully into the next phase of our worship life, and am honored to be your Interim Rector.