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Weekly Update

Moving Forward to Church

I rejoice with you that we have all endured the pandemic and reached a new stage of life together! Though certainly not over, the availability and popularity of vaccines, and the coming of warmer weather, bring possibilities to gather that feel truly extraordinary. I hope we continue to cherish these moments and not lose sight of what a gift they are after a long, difficult year. I write today to share with you what the next phase of our life together will look like. Please keep in mind, the Vestry and I have made these decisions knowing that our communal life will continue to evolve. This is not the final phase and we will need continue to need to be flexible and adjust expectations. This is simply the next phase, in keeping with CDC, state, and Diocesan guidelines. 
 
Since the beginning of the pandemic, St. Michael’s has prioritized a commitment to care for the most vulnerable among us, and the health of the whole Body of Christ. As we move forward, we continue to seek to uphold the integrity of the whole community. Just over one third of Virginians are fully vaccinated, and children under the age of twelve are not yet eligible for vaccinations. We will continue to exercise caution, encourage vaccinations, and make room for all to participate in communal life in one form or another. Throughout the detailed description below, you will see that there are aspects of communal life we will continue to refrain from until everyone who wants a vaccine in Arlington County can receive one. This is an intentional reflection of our prioritization of the well-being of the whole over the individual. 
 
As you consider how to participate in this next phase of communal life, I implore you to continue to be thoughtful and generous with one another. Take into account the needs and risk factors that may be beyond your knowledge or your neighbor’s control, and keep in mind the extravagant love Jesus invites us to model. 
 

For the next two Sundays, May 23 and May 30: 

  • The worship schedule will remain as follows: 9 AM online, 10:30 AM on the lawn 
  • Pre-registration for outdoor worship is no longer required. 
    • Though necessary, registration created a barrier to access—many among us have not wanted to take a reservation away from another member of the community. Others simply have not had the bandwidth for the hassle. 
    • Come! All are welcome, and there is ample space on the lawn. Please bring a blanket or folding chair to use during the service. (We will have a limited number of chairs available for those who need them.)
  • In accordance with the CDC’s guidelines that the vaccinated do not need to mask outdoors, we will no longer require masks for outdoor services. Please be thoughtful when approaching others and responsive of personal needs to maintain distance or wear a mask. 

Beginning June 6:

Worship at 8 AM on the lawn
  • You will not need to pre-register to reserve a seat. Come! All are welcome, and there is ample space. Please bring a blanket or folding chair to use during the service. (We will have a limited number of chairs available for those who need them.)
  • In accordance with the CDC’s guidelines that the vaccinated do not need to mask outdoors, we will no longer require masks for outdoor services. Please be thoughtful when approaching others and responsive of personal needs to maintain distance or wear a mask. 

Worship at 10 AM in the sanctuary
  • Following the lifting of distancing requirements, we will not limit the capacity for this service. We will invite you to be thoughtful in choosing the proximity of a seat to your neighbor. 
  • To maximize airflow, windows in the sanctuary will be open and the auxiliary fan will run constantly during this service. However, because the air circulation is limited, we ask that everyone continue to wear a mask as a courtesy to those who are not yet eligible for a vaccine. 
 
Virtual Worship, 10 AM from the sanctuary
  • We will continue to make available a virtual option for those who prefer to worship remotely. This service will become less interactive, though still a Zoom meeting that invites participants to worship alongside those present in the sanctuary. 
  • This service will be recorded and available on our YouTube channel after the fact. 
 
Spiritual Communion at both services: 
  • We will continue with spiritual communion and abstain from physically receiving communion. The value in the sacrament of communion is that the body and blood of Christ are available to all, no matter what. That is not our current reality at this stage of life in the pandemic. We will return to receiving communion as a community once the sacrament is accessible to all. 
  • For those who feel a need to physically partake of communion, I am now able to provide pastoral home visits with the sacrament of communion. Please be in touch if this would be meaningful for you. 
 
Singing at both services
  • Congregational singing is now permitted and will be included at both services. 
  • The mechanics of singing suggests that air particles travel further when singing. Out of an abundance of caution, please wear your mask when singing, either indoors or outdoors. 
 
Coffee Hour: 
  • We have missed one another! You are invited to participate in a time of fellowship on the church lawn following the conclusion of the 8 AM and 10 AM services. At this time, we will not gather indoors for unmasked activities, like drinking coffee.  
  • We encourage you to BYOB to coffee hour, as we will not be sharing in a common carafe. 
 
Unfavorable Weather
  • In the event of unfavorable weather, or an unbearable plague of seasonal critters, we will have one service at 10 AM in the sanctuary, which will also be available virtually. 
  • Cancellation of the outdoor service will be announced on the home page of our website at least 90 minutes prior to the 8 AM start time. 
 
This new phase of life together brings the opportunity to migrate from online platforms to in-person gatherings, whether indoors or outdoors. The office staff will work with leaders of various ministries to thoughtfully return to use of spaces at St. Michael’s. We will be diligent about the size of gatherings, scheduling, and need to sanitize spaces after use. Please be in touch with the Rector and parish office to discuss availability moving forward.
 
Just as a final note, I want to share that the work of Priya Parker, author of the Art of Gathering, which examines how we create collective meaning in community from a non-religious perspective. Her work has been a helpful companion for me in this past year. I had a cathartic fit of laughter after hearing her state the following last week, “Gathering again is going to be complicated and possibly uncomfortable. Naming the elephant in the room is the most powerful tool we have. We need to make the implicit explicit. Even if the elephant is just awkwardness, naming what’s happening and making it explicit allows everybody to take a breath.” Well, of course! It is so obvious, and yet it had not occurred to me to simply name the thing that is going to be hard in different ways. To state it plainly: this will be some combination of both joyful and challenging for all of us. I am grateful to have each of you as companions on this holy, uncomfortable journey. 
 
Thank you for your patience, sense of humor, and perseverance over these last 15 months. We have learned a great deal about the depth and resilience of our community, which will continue to serve us well. As we move forward to church, I implore you to continue to exercise care for one another, which has become a true charism of the St. Michael’s community. 

You are loved. You are missed. You are a blessing. 

Beth  

Virtual Sunday Worship and Coffee Hour on May 23

  •  9 AM Liturgy of the Word Live on Zoom (This service will be recorded and available for viewing on YouTube after completion.)  
  •  All are welcome to join us as we celebrate the baptism of Hannah Stout, daughter of Alex and Bernadette, and sister to Alistair and Oliver. 
  • Virtual coffee hour on Zoom immediately following the 9 AM worship service 
Join Zoom meeting here: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82953003225
To Dial in: (301) 715 8592
Meeting ID: 829 5300 3225

Outdoor Worship on May 23

10:30 AM Spiritual Communion on the Lawn
  • You will no longer need to pre-register for outdoor worship. 
    • Though necessary, registration created a barrier to access—many among us have not wanted to take a reservation away from another member of the community. Others simply have not had the bandwidth for the hassle. 
    • Come! All are welcome, and there is ample space on the lawn. Please bring a blanket or folding chair to use during the service. (We will have a limited number of chairs available for those who need them.)
  • In accordance with the CDC’s guidelines that the vaccinated do not need to mask outdoors, we will no longer require masks for outdoor services. Please be thoughtful when approaching others and responsive of personal needs to maintain distance or wear a mask. 
  • We will be blessed by the sounds of our handbell choir for the Feast of Pentecost this Sunday! 

Children’s Offering 

Virtual lessons and accompanying activities focused on Compassion: Learning to Love Like God, will be available on a weekly basis. This content will be made available in the Sunday morning worship emails, and on our YouTube Channel.

Completion of Rectory Construction

The work is finished on the Rectory, and we're now just waiting on the surveyor to do a new plat before completing final inspection. The total cost of the project is about $160,000, which included the original scope of work of renovating the kitchen, closing off and sealing the basement door under the deck, filling in the stairwell, building a new egress window in the basement and rebuilding the deck and screened porch. The expanded scope of work after discovering all of the water and insect damage included tearing out and replacing the rotted dormer sheathing, window frames, door frames, downstairs bathroom floor, upstairs bathroom wall and radiator, roofing underlayment, fascia and band board. The structural repairs also necessitated replacing the doors, much of the roofing, all of the siding and gutters. A huge thanks to Bruce Stanley and his team at Authentic Construction for completing such high quality of work and within the original time frame, despite the expanded scope of the project. The good news is that the house is much more structurally sound than it has been in years. A slideshow of the construction journey is available below.
 
Many thanks to those who have already made a contribution to help defray the cost of these capital repairs. 
 
Now that we have the structural work at the church and the Rectory largely completed, we can concentrate our attention on moving forward to the next chapter of our life together at St. Michael's!
The Saga of the Rectory Renovation

Volunteer with AFAC

Sign up here for a Saturday afternoon volunteer opportunity at the Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC) warehouse. Join us on Saturday, June 5 from 12:30–2:30 PM. Volunteers will meet at the AFAC warehouse to bag produce, rice, beans for later distribution to clients. Volunteers must be at least twelve years old, wear close-toed shoes, and a hat or hair net.

Outdoor Gathering for Children and Families

We hope you'll join us for a fun morning of play and casual conversation with other St. Michael's families at Parkhurst Park on Saturday, June 5 at 9:30 AM. We look forward to seeing you and celebrating the end of a most unusual school year! BYOC[offee] and donuts. Please contact the Children and Youth Ministries Committee with questions. 

Walk-In COVID-19 Vaccine Clinics 

Arlington County’s Public Health Division is offering walk-in vaccine clinics to individuals ages 16 and up. No appointments required.

Creative Giving

During this time of separation, we are tremendously grateful to everyone who has submitted their offering through creative means. We are still checking the mail and would be happy to receive your contribution. Please know that we are making deposits less frequently than normal to attend to the safety of our counters. This means there may be a more significant lag than normal in the time it takes for a contribution to clear your bank account. You may also submit a donation through online giving. We are grateful for this faithful generosity, which remains essential to our mission. 
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