We are blessed to announce that the State of Hawaii, County of Maui and Episcopal Diocese of Hawaii have given authorization for in-person worship to resume at Trinity Episcopal Church By-the-Sea. The Bishop’s Committee has approved the recommendation of Trinity’s Worship Committee to start in-person worship on Sunday June 7th at 9 am service under the guidance of CDC & State guidelines and the Diocesan Worship Task Force.
WHAT TO EXPECT
There were many findings and recommendations that we must accommodate that will change aspects of our Sunday Service. We thought it would be helpful to send this in advance so you can be prepared, and we can answer any questions or concerns in advance. Please note that despite Trinity being an outdoor sanctuary, we are still operating under the same guidance and protections for indoor churches as the virus can still be spread outdoors.
BEFORE YOU COME TO TRINITY
If you are not feeling well or you have been exposed to a potential carrier within the past 14 days, please stay home and attend worship virtually.
If you will be attending, please bring a mask for each person in your party. (Children under 2 years old are not required to wear masks). Masks must be worn from the time you get out of your vehicle in the parking lot until you get back into your cars. The only time the mask is to be removed is for the consumption of the Eucharist wafer, which we will discuss later. This is to protect everyone around you as well as all church goers. You are also welcomed to bring and wear sanitary gloves if you wish. Please know that we have arranged for all the pews and touchable surfaces to be sanitized before and after each service, as well as the restrooms. (Note the restrooms will not be cleaned between every use, so practice appropriate personal protection accordingly.)
Please bring your own supply of hand sanitizer and/or sanitizing wipes. The sanctuary is quite a way from Kilolani Hall, so handwashing is not convenient. We hope to have hand sanitizer available, but in the event we cannot, we ask you to bring your own.
At this time, we encourage online donations at www.trinitybts.org but if you prefer to donate via checks or cash, note we have changed the procedure based upon the recommendations of the Diocese. We will not be able to pass around pens or envelopes. Please prepare your tithing and donations in advance. Additionally, the collection/offertory plate will NOT be passed around during the service. Instead, it will be placed on a table near the entry to the sanctuary. Please place your tithing and donations in the basket/plate as you enter the sanctuary.
Again, we ask that masks be worn at all times you are on church property and everyone practice social distancing by staying at least 6 feet away from each other with no physical contact. The pews will be spaced to provide adequate safe distancing. Members of the same household/family may sit next to each other in the pews. Individuals/couples will be asked to sit on opposite ends of the pews to provide maximum distancing. As some may need to sit ‘outside’ the sanctuary in the overflow area, please bring umbrellas and sunscreen to provide shade from the sun. Ushers will be present to help with seating and answering any questions.
There will be no Hymnals nor Prayer Books. We will have a supply of bulletins available on a cart as you enter the sanctuary that has only been handled by the person printing it, with sanitized hands. We will not be sharing any material so no transmission of the virus can occur. Additionally, we will not be passing the microphone for introduction of visitors.
Knowing that the longer we are exposed to an infected person increases the chance of viral transmission, the Sunday Service will be as brief as possible but still provide the essential aspects of in-person worship. As such, there will only be the celebrant on the altar (no acolyte). We will not have a procession in or out of the sanctuary and there will be no handling of the elements except by a member of the altar guild and the celebrant, both with sanitized hands and gloves.
DURING THE SERVICE
Studies found that droplets can travel up to six feet with normal breathing and up to twenty feet when singing or speaking loudly. This may seem to be the most awkward aspect, but we ask the congregation not to speak responses nor sing any hymns. We will have a dedicated responder/reader/intercessor who will be the same person throughout the service that will do all the readings and also speak on the congregation’s behalf through a microphone that will not be passed around. You are welcome to ‘mouth’ the words or lip-sync, so to speak, without exhaling an abundance of breath. As good Christian churchgoers, we are trained to automatically respond so we understand this will take some effort.
Much of the music will be instrumental only. Hymns will be shortened to a few verses and only sung by our Music Director, Ruth Murata-Eisen. You may have heard of the virus transmission at a church choir practice in Washington, which means we will not have a choir for the foreseeable future. Shortened hymns will achieve less exposure time to one another and limited broadcast of droplets. Again, if you wish to participate in the hymns, please feel free to lip-sync along with Ruth.
We will not have any kneeling during the service as this generally requires touching of surfaces.
SIGN OF PEACE/ELEMENTS
During the sign of peace, we ask everyone to remain in place and not move about the sanctuary. There should be no physical contact but instead a silent gentle bow or nod of the head or a handwave or a Shaka or Vulcan greeting. Again, not speaking means no transmission of droplets. We can pass the sign of peace and love without words.
As mentioned above, we will not have any participants helping with the elements. They will all be placed near the altar by the sanitized hands of one altar guild member and handled only by the celebrant.
If you thought all of the above was too much to remember, I’m sorry to say, here is more to absorb as we try to make the sacrament of Holy Eucharist as sanitary as possible. The ushers will direct the congregation on forming one line in the center of the church upon the markings on the ground. The celebrant will step down from the altar and stand in the center of the aisle to distribute communion wafers only. (This will avoid contact with the kneelers or holding any rails.) If you are not able to stand, please notify an usher and they will arrange for the priest to bring communion to you after the congregation.
The words normally spoken during reception of the Bread and Wine (e.g. ‘The Body of Christ, The Bread of Heaven’ will be said once by the celebrant to the assembly as a whole BEFORE distributing communion to individuals. This will avoid an exchange of breath within the safe distance of people. The assembly will participate with the celebrant in their saying ‘The Blood of Christ, The Cup of Salvation’ on the altar. We will not be passing the chalice to the congregation at any time. The celebrant will only provide the communion wafer to the communicant by SILENTLY dropping the wafer into the open palms of the recipient. There will be no physical contact. Face masks must remain in place throughout this process.
After receiving the wafer in your hand, please take a few steps to the right or left of the celebrant and carefully loosen your facemask to place the wafer in your mouth while standing at the altar rail. Carrying the wafer back to the pew would risk dropping it or exposing it to others nearby. After you have consumed the communion wafer, please place your mask over your face and safely return to your seat.
As much of this is changed in how we perform in-person worship, please understand the Diocesan Worship Task Force made these recommendations to protect all of us from further transmission of the virus. As we proceed in the weeks to come, we may adjust the procedures of ‘the New Normal’ but pray you all will understand and help us to keep all our Trinity Ohana safe and healthy.
The Bishop’s Committee
Trinity Episcopal Church By-the-Sea