Regathering

This page is home to all information collected on the study, plans and schedule for regathering as a community for Sunday services.  New data will be pasted here whenever it is available.  The goal is to have keep everyone fully informed as we walk this road together.

  • Everyone is invited to share opinions, concerns and ideas!
  • Everyone is invited to ask any related questions!
  • ascsmc2020@gmail.com

Commission

The Vestry has asked Brian Hunter to “project manage” the work that’s needed to explore and plan regathering.  The effort includes:

  • Becoming familiar with all the applicable guidelines that must be followed.
  • Gathering the most recent available data about risk into a summary and updating that summary as more is learned.
  • Gaining input from staff and all worship related groups on service content given the guidelines and risk mitigation strategies.
  • Gaining input from the ASC community on regathering interest and concerns.  This includes interest given the precautions and service content we may offer.  
  • Build a service that meets all guidelines, meets our community’s needs and can be safely managed in our buildings.
  • Build a transition plan that takes us from today’s service offering to the regathered service.  Do this in steps to test and refine the service while continuing to offer the on-line service.
  • Based on all the above, establish our own move forward decision requirements and process.
  • Monitor the planned services and move them through the planned steps and implement improvements from early lessons learned.
  • MAINTAIN PROGRESS COMMUNICATION TO EVERYONE IN THE COMMUNITY. 

Prayer for People Critically Ill or Facing Great Uncertainty

God of the present moment,
God who in Jesus stills the storm
and soothes the frantic heart;
bring hope and courage to all
who wait or work in uncertainty.
Bring hope that you will make them the equal
of whatever lies ahead.
Bring them courage to endure what cannot be avoided,
for your will is health and wholeness;
you are God, and we need you.
– Adapted from New Zealand Prayer Book, p. 765

Letter From Rev. Paul

State of the Parish 7/25

Guidelines

  1. CDC Guidelines
  2. Mass Health Guidelines
  3. Diocese Guidelines
  4. Bishop’s July 1 Guidance
  5. Local Guidelines (TBD)
  6. A Journey by Stages – This lines up with state phases.
  7. Phase 2 Checklist – We will have to do this
  8. Communion, Visits, Baptisms
  9. Risk Management Tips – Church Insurance

Studies / Articles

Article on fomites – spread thru surface contact.  The risk, while not zero, is much reduced from initial worries in March.  

Focus is on Airborne transmission as this seems to be the most serious unknown.  We know about the virus and masks and droplets and surfaces.  We can plan for these fairly easily.  Here is a thought on masks:

Many scientists believe Covid can be spread by aerosols in indoor settings.  The W.H.O. downplayed it, but is now saying its possible and needs more study.  This issue and what must be done seems to present the biggest question as we move forward.

Airborne Transmission 
Airborne Related University Study – Discuses ventilation and air flow studies not yet complete.
W.H.O update on Airborne Transmission – W.H.O. says airborne transmission may be possible indoors in poor ventilation and crowded conditions.

Community Input

Regathering Survey Results and Considerations

Progress Log

5/3 – Lowell and Littleton are in the red.  Next outdoor service is Pentecost.  While the vaccine rollout is now over 60% in MA, there has been no indoor guidance change yet.  Vaccine testing for youth is just beginning, so indoor masks and distancing are likely to continue for some number of months.  The state is opening businesses without addressing youth guidance.  The Diocese “expects online offerings to continue after regathering” and will not permit vaccination status checking.

3/29 – Lowell was briefly in the yellow recently, but quickly went back to red.  Vaccines continue.  We are holding an outdoor Easter Vigil service and are considering an outdoor Pentecost.  Somewhere in between we hope to have further information on the vaccine rollout.  We have no new news from the Diocese or CDC at this point.  

2/18 – One regathering recommendation is based on no local communities with a red status per MA.  Chelmsford and 4 other towns are Yellow.  Lowell and Littleton are Red.  Carlisle is Green.  The CDC has not yet posted advice based on Covid variants or spread possibility by those vaccinated.  They are still studying these issues.  The Diocese continues to discourage regathering.  The Regathering Commission and Vestry will begin to ready our Audio/Visual capability to be ready to live stream when we are ready to hold outdoor and, eventual, indoor services.  Regathering Commission will incorporate protocols that the CDC, state and diocese provide that are directed for people that are vaccinated, when they are available.
2021 – We did receive permission to regather prior to 11/3/2020.  Sadly, about that time Chelmsford and all surrounding towns began a spike in infections.  The spike led to a rollback of state guidelines for regathering, warnings from the CDC on community spread and communication from the diocese to seriously discourage in-person regathering.  The regathering Commission has been on hold.

10/20 – Sent the regathering request and checklist to the Diocese!!
10/18 – Held the “test” outdoor Evening Prayer service.  21 total present.  The service was held in the office parking lot, and went well.
10/6 – Our Regathering Shepherd and Vestry approved the Regathering Checklist and begun the signature process.
Sept – Spent much time on the ventilation review.  The main church, offices and Parish Hall tested well with better-than CDC/EPA suggested air exchanges… providing exhaust fans are running.  In Winter, we will need to heat the entire facility and draw it through the church or Parish Hall so that all our systems can be used to warm air.  The first Zoom service and first virtual Eucharist services were held
8/4 – Our regathering Shepherd sent expanded checklists (31 pages!) and  some example data.  Rev. Jen is not aware of an Episcopal church that has regathered for Sunday services yet.  She has reviewed where we are and our process and believes we are right on track.  She will attend our next meeting on 8/10.  We have 3 requests from internal and external groups that want to use our building or parking lot.  We are prioritizing tasks that will lead us to a recommendation we can give the Vestry for decisions. 
7/29 – We have a Diocese Regathering Shepard – Rev Jen Vath from Christ Church, Andover, Good progress on understanding all guidelines (Diocese, CDC, EPA, MA, Chelmsford Board of Health), Proposal due from A/V consultant and we’re exploring gear and solutions.  A Visit Registration and Rules form has been drafted.  The Vestry Survey will be key to many decisions we must make.  We believe our transition to attended services will be one of careful steps.  There will be some “test” services and corrections as we learn.  We will maintain the on-line service option for the foreseeable future and perhaps permanently.
7/25 – Most team assignments made.  Dialog/drafts beginning for Survey, Audio Visual upgrades, Attendance Registration and Rules, Building Capacity, Diocese support and regathering certification, Ventilation concerns, Worship design.  The Survey will give all parishioners a voice!
7/20 – Team kickoff call.  This page and the task list live.
7/15 – Regather Commission officially announced – Building Team
7/9 – This process, has been in progress in conversations and planning by Rev. Paul, the Vestry and others.  The time has come to pull all the efforts together and make sure we take the best, most careful steps together.

The Regathering Commission Team:
Brian Hunter
Christy Weller-Fahy
Bob Andrews
Frank Ouellette
Steve Sullivan
Rev. Jen Vath, Diocese Regathering Shepherd

ascsmc2020@gmail.com