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Phase One Reopening Plan and Online Mass Sign-Ups

May 19, 2020

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Reopening Masses at Epiphany to the Public
A Message from Father John
 
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
 
For eight weeks now, we have longed to celebrate Mass together as one Body of Christ, here in our beloved church. We have done our best to stay connected through private Masses livestreamed on Facebook, but I have missed seeing all of you here in the Church. This week, Bishop Knestout announced that our diocese will resume public Masses next weekend, beginning on Saturday, May 23rd.
   
It is truly a blessing that we will be able to reunite in celebration of the Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord. For the health and safety of our entire Epiphany family, we must all work together and follow the instructions of Governor Northam and Bishop Knestout when we gather together for Mass once again. If you cannot abide by the rules outlined in this email, we must ask you not to attend Mass until the church is fully reopened. These changes may be uncomfortable or inconvenient, but I hope you will understand that they are necessary to keep our community safe amid the ongoing threat of Covid-19.
 
Finally, I wish to emphasize that Bishop Knestout’s special dispensation still stands. If you are age 60 or older, highly vulnerable to the virus, have an immune deficiency, feeling unwell, or are caring for someone in one of these categories, you are NOT obligated to physically attend Mass. We will continue to livestream Masses on Facebook, and I encourage you to worship with us online if you feel unsafe gathering with us at church. 
 
From the bottom of my heart, I thank you all so much for your patience and your support during this difficult time. You are in my prayers every day. May God bless all and keep everyone safe and healthy as we begin to re-open His Holy Church.
 
Yours in Christ,
Very Reverend John C. Kazibwe, Pastor

Social Distancing at Mass
Thank you all for your continued patience as we pull through these troubling times. As you may have heard, our governor recently announced Phase One of the re-opening of Virginia, including churches. We are happy to communicate with you all that we will be allowed to gather physically for Mass again, at 50% capacity, beginning Saturday, May 23. What does this mean? It means that we will only be able to allow 50% of our total worship space to be occupied during Mass, so that social distancing guidelines are being adhered to. Below you will find a resource provided to us by the Diocese of Richmond, with information regarding protocol and guidelines we must all adhere to. Learn more about diocesan-wide safety measures for attending Mass HERE.

Social Distancing Guidelines 

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Online Sign Ups for Mass
To be sure that we do not exceed 50% capacity, we must ask you to sign up in advance if you wish to attend Mass. Click HERE to sign up for the Weekend Mass of your choice. Keep in mind that Mass will likely take longer than usual due to changes such as social distancing during Communion. Plan to arrive 30 minutes before Mass begins to allow time for our new check-in and seating process.

Important Changes to Epiphany Masses
The way we attend and celebrate Mass will be very different for the time being. Please pay close attention to the following new rules and procedures, which have been put in place for the protection of our clergy, parishioners, and staff.
  • Please arrive a minimum of 30 minutes early for the Mass you have signed up for. The process of entering the church and being seated will take longer than usual.
  • When you arrive at church, you will be greeted outside by an usher who will verify that you have signed up for that Mass, and that everyone aged 3 or older is wearing a face covering. With great sadness, we will not permit you to enter the building without a face covering. Face coverings must be worn in the parking lot and throughout the entire Mass, except while receiving Communion.
  • When you enter the building, an usher will guide you to a pew according to social distancing rules. Of course, members of the same household will be able to sit together. Worshipers may not choose their own seat at this time.
  • To prevent the spread of viruses and germs, we will not be handing out Orders of Worship, collection baskets, or bulletins. While we strongly encourage you to participate in our online giving program HERE, collection baskets will be available in the Commons before and after Mass where you may drop off your offertory if you prefer.
  • Until the threat of Coronavirus has been eliminated, singing during Mass is strongly discouraged.
  • We will NOT hold hands as we pray the Our Father, nor will we shake hands, embrace, or make any form of physical contact during the Sign of Peace. Instead, please wave, bow, or nod to others as you offer them Christ's peace.
  • Only Priests and Deacons may distribute Holy Communion at this time. The process of lining up for Communion will be very different from what we are used to. Please wait for instructions from an usher before you go up to receive communion.
  • Holy Communion will be offered only in the form of the Body of Christ. We will not receive the Precious Blood from the cup. 
  • As you receive communion, please step a safe distance away from the priest or deacon before you remove your mask and consume the Body of Christ. Thank you for helping us keep our clergy healthy!
  • To avoid crowding and maintain social distancing while exiting the church, worshipers will be dismissed one pew at a time at the end of Mass. Please do not leave your pew until instructed to do so by an usher.
  • While we have all missed our Epiphany friends, we must refrain from gathering in the Commons or parking lot for conversation. As you enter and exit the church, please keep 6 feet apart from others and proceed directly to your vehicle without lingering in the Commons.
New Mass Schedule
Beginning on Saturday, May 23rd, Masses at Epiphany will be open to the public according to the following schedule:
 
Saturday
Mass at 5:15 pm (arrive by 4:45)
 
Sunday
Mass at 8:00 am (arrive by 7:30)
Mass at 11 am (arrive by 10:30)
 
Tuesday-Friday
Mass at 9:30 am
Please note the time change for our Daily Masses, which have returned to 9:30 instead of 10 am. No sign up is required for Daily Masses. If you cannot sign up for our Weekend Masses, attending a Daily Mass will fulfill your Sunday obligation.
 
Eucharistic Adoration will take place for ONE HOUR ONLY beginning after Daily Mass on Fridays, beginning on May 29.
 
Livestream Masses
Please prayerfully consider all of the new safety measures as you discern whether or not to return to Mass. You are not obligated to physically attend our public Masses, according to the dispensation issued by Bishop Knestout. For those who do not feel safe or are unable to return to Mass at this time, we will continue to livestream Sunday Mass at 11 am. Weekday Masses on Tuesday-Friday will also be livestreamed, but please note the scheduling changes above.
 
Sanitation Procedures
Please be assured that the church building, especially pews, doors, and bathrooms will be thoroughly disinfected after each and every Mass. While a limited supply of hand sanitizer will be available at church, we strongly encourage you to bring and use your own sanitizer.
 
Reconciliation
A priest will once again be available to hear confessions on Saturdays from 3:30-4:45 pm, beginning on May 23. No appointment necessary.
 
First Communion, Confirmation, and RCIA
For the safety of our Epiphany children and families, all Sacraments of Initiation will be postponed until all phases of the reopening are complete, Masses are fully opened to the public, and all safety restrictions have been lifted. Look for further communication from the staff member who coordinates the preparation programs for these Sacraments.
 
Prayer Groups and Other Meetings
During this first phase of reopening, no group gatherings of any size are permitted in the church building beyond Mass and Eucharistic Adoration. We will let you know when your group or ministry may resume meetings at church again.

Online Giving
If you are unable to physically attend Mass, please prayerfully consider continuing your offertory giving online. It’s easy. It’s safe, and it’s convenient. Thank you for your generosity. May God continue to bless you abundantly. Click HERE for online giving.
Offertory Collection
If you decide to physically attend Mass, there will be baskets available to you on the table in the Commons before you enter the Centrum. 

We look forward to seeing you again soon! If you cannot come worship with us just yet, please know that you are in our hearts and in our prayers until we meet again. Let us all continue to pray for an end to the threat of Coronavirus, and for the healing and protection of the sick and their caregivers. God bless you all!

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