August 23, 2020
Greetings to all members and friends of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Mesa, I am writing to update everyone with the progress of our reopening for in person worship with respect to COVID-19.
Update to the guidelines for gathering. What’s next? By the grace of God and with Bishop Jennifer Reddall’s guidance, an incredible Task Force, which I am honored to be a part of, was formed to create the guidelines we are to follow in the coming months. Myself and your church leaders participated in a webinar with the Diocesan Task Force key members. The webinar was an in-depth look at the document “Gathering for Abundant Life: Arizona Church and Worship in the time of COVID 19” – which can also be currently viewed on our Facebook page and website. Please take the time to read the guidelines in the document.
Our current situation: Clearly, we still find ourselves in Phase 1 (page 2 of the “Gathering for Abundant Life” document). This limits gatherings to ten or less and requires masks and distancing. Despite this, the staff and volunteers required to record services leaves little room for additional people to attend. The office is open on a limited basis and by appointment only. Masks and hand sanitizing are required while on Church property. Online, we continue to offer Tuesday Noon Day Prayer at 12 pm, Wednesday Healing service at 10 am, Thursday Order of Compline at 7 pm, Saturday Spanish Service at 7 pm, and Sunday English Service at 10 am via our Facebook page, website, and YouTube channel.
Steps towards regathering: The Bishop’s Committee reviewed the Task Force Document and compiled a plan for our reopening which has since been approved by the Bishop. We must receive the approval from the Diocese to return to various stages of in-person worship, as well as proceeding to Phase II or III. Masks and distancing are necessary and a host of specific guidelines pertaining to sanitizing and cleaning are to be followed. Much preparation and procurement of sanitizing supplies and masks has already been done.
Hopefully we will be able to meet soon by having outdoor services in small groups. It is important to note that there still can be no coffee hour or shared meals or events involving food. To this end, it is also worth noting that the Task Force Document is a work in process and will be amended as time goes on and as necessary.
We are a congregation with vulnerable members. The Task Force states the intent of their work is to help us gather safely, caring for every person. It is also important to remember that there is no way to absolutely ensure the safety of those who gather.
The data the Task Force Document refers to when granting churches permission moving from Phase I to Phase II is from Arizona Department of Health Services. That data and how it is being applied will be what matters as we move forward. We all need to respect that there are a variety of opinions about our situation. Some will believe we should all get out and get going and have things open again. Others will be cautious and follow the CDC order to stay at home.
We will continue to learn together no matter where this journey takes us. I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible soon. We are one body in Christ. Please stay safe and healthy.
God’s peace and blessings to you all.
Faithfully in Christ,
We appreciate your secure online donation to St. Mark's, using either PayPal or through the Diocese of Arizona using FaithStreet. PayPal sends your donation directly to St. Mark's. For FaithStreet, please select "St. Mark's Mesa" from the drop down menu under "select a fund."
September-October 2018 (pdf)