Reopening the Church

How do we reopen?

I am asking for you to look over the plan to reopen in-person worship. All worship will be in the Nave as there is not enough room to social distance in the Chapel.

  • Posted out front is a list of expectations.
  • Before you Arrive please make sure you are not ill or have a fever.
  • If you are in any of the Risk Groups or you are caring for someone that is in the Risk Group, please consider not attending in-person.
  • All entry and exit must be through the Narthex ONLY by either the steps or ramp.
  • If you know you have been in contact with anyone with COVID-19 or have been around someone who you know has been around someone with COVID-19, please do not come to church in-person. Watch on Facebook Live or Zoom.
  • The doors to the Nave will be completely open, so that no one will have to touch any door handles.
  • A list of everyone who is in attendance will be kept for each service with date and time done by Fr. Michael or a designated person.
  • Have a mask with you and to wear it or one we will have at the church, it will be required for anyone over 10 years old.
  • The Church will be sanitized for each service.
  • The pews will be marked off, so everyone will know where seating is available.
  • There will be hand sanitizer that must be used when you enter the Narthex.
  • The church will be filled from the front to the back, so that no one will pass by someone else.
  • You can sit in family Household groups.
  • Children must sit with parents, no childcare will be provided.
  • The Offering plate will be in the back, as we will not pass the plate.
  • Everyone will leave at the end of the service from back to front through the Narthex ONLY!
  • There will be no hymn singing, only having a soloist or duet with at least 12ft distance between the Singers and the open pew set for seating.
  • No passing of the peace, other physically greeting in the church or coming forward for Birthday and Anniversary Blessings.
  • No Coffee Hour inside.
  • No Bathrooms usage – in case of an emergency need please use the restrooms by the Parish Hall, using the door in the Narthex, and use Clorox wipes to sanitize anything you touch.
  • No Entry signs will be at all other Entrances.
  • We will continue to have online worship – Zoom and Facebook Live.

An Update on COVID-19

In accordance with directives from Rt. Rev. Larry Benfield, Bishop of Arkansas, Episcopal Churches in Arkansas will not reopen immediately, even if Governor Hutchinson authorizes such openings. We sincerely want to see everyone in worship again soon; however, we also want to ensure that everyone is kept safe during this time and as of now, the safest thing we can do is to stay home.

During this time, we will continue to broadcast our services live on Facebook and we will upload our services to our Youtube Channel after the service concludes. You can view the service bulletins and the Youtube videos on our homepage at any time.

If you would like to view the video from Bishop Benfield, you can view it by clicking here.

Liturgical Guidelines and Parameters for Holy Week and Easter

Congregations are planning a number of different options for how Holy Week and Easter Day will be observed liturgically. Unfortunately, we will not be able to gather in person. Some congregations are planning online services, while others will encourage parishioners to follow other church’s online. Decide what works best in your congregation.

We will issue a list of liturgical resources that you can use in planning how you wish to observe this time in our church’s calendar. These resources will include a form of individual worship for times when an individual cannot receive Holy Communion.

As you plan your services, please follow these guidelines.You have the choice of conducting the Daily Office each day, or the Eucharist as outlined in the BCP for Holy Week, the Good Friday liturgy, the Easter Vigil, and Easter Day.

  • At no time should more than nine people be together in church or in home worship, and they must always practice social distancing.
  • Do not conduct an outdoor service or encourage people to attend church by doing such things as sitting in their cars in the parking lot while a church service is occurring indoors.
  • Under no circumstance, have “drive-by” Communion. Government authorities have banned these sorts of practices in some communities.
  • If you are conducting a Eucharist, only the celebrant will prepare the Holy Table and receive Holy Communion. (This requirement is in support of healthy actions to prevent the spread of the virus.)
  • There will not be any “long distance” consecration of bread and wine. Instead, on Easter Day encourage people to include bread and wine in their Easter Day meal following their online worship, and that they pray the Blessings over Food at Easter [PDF] from the Book of Occasional Services, which states that these prayers “are appropriate for use by households at the principal meal on Easter Day.” These prayers will be issued as a liturgical resource.
  • Do not reserve consecrated Bread or Wine at any Eucharist until the viral pandemic is over.
  • Do not physically share palms in a service on Palm Sunday, and do not have more than one person strip the altar on Maundy Thursday.
  • Do not conduct Baptisms at the Easter Vigil or on Easter Day. (If there is an extremis situation and Baptism is necessary, conduct the Baptism as on page 313 of the Book of Common Prayer.)

Virtual Service Information

As you all should be aware, we have suspended in person worship services in accordance with directives from Bishop Benfield. We understand the that this poses a hardship to those members without access to Facebook. In an effort to make our services more accessible, we are now making the recordings of our services available on our Youtube Channel. These services are not being broadcast live to Youtube, but they will usually be available within 2 hours of the end of the service.

When those videos are published, they will become available from the homepage by scrolling to the bottom and selecting the service you wish to view. The bulletin for each service is published to the service page before the service begins so that everyone can have a copy if you choose to worship with us during the live feed on Facebook.

COVID-19 Resources

We are including a list of COVID-19 resources for you in one convenient location. These resources are far from all that is available on the internet, but they are a good starting point. All links will open in new tabs.

We hope that the information below will better help each of you in the days, weeks, and months ahead. If you have any resources you would like to see here, please email them to the office and we will review them for inclusion. At this time we have decided not to include news/media sources because they are readily available.

World Health Organization COVID-19 Resources

U.S. Centers For Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 Resources

Arkansas Department of Health COVID-19 Situation Report and Resources

Oklahoma State Department of Health COVID-19 Situation Report

World-O-Meter COVID-19 Worldwide Case Statistics

Episcopal Diocese of Arkansas COVID-19 Resources

Suspension of In-Person Services

Greeting All, 

It is with heaviness and prayer that I write to you about suspending our common worship together in person.  I hope that we all understand this is not about us as individuals; it is about us as a community.  We should remember that there are vulnerable people all around us and consider what might be in their best interest.  Do unto others better than we expect to have done unto us.

This means sometimes we must sacrifice for their sake and their safety.   This does not mean we will not be in prayer and worship together.  We will join together virtually on Saturday Evening at 5:30 and on Sunday Morning at 10:30 on Facebook Live to share our common prayer in the form of Evening and Morning Prayer.  

This situation will be re-evaluated after the end of the month.  Please watch your email, St. Barts Facebook page and the Website for current information.

As we are reminded that our common worship and faithfulness is not celebrated only in the spaces between the walls and under the roofs of our buildings, I want to share the following with you.

Barton Hindley shares this with me:

Thought you might find the following excerpt from “Morning Brew” soothing during this trying time:

In all seriousness, we found comfort in these words from Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky as we head into the weekend:

  • “Every hand that we don’t shake must become a phone call that we place.”
  • “Every embrace that we avoid must become a verbal expression of warmth and concern.” 
  • “Every inch and every foot that we physically place between ourselves and another, must become a thought as to how we might be of help to that other, should the need arise.” 

God is present with us at all times and calls us to be faithful to God and each other.  Thank you for your understanding during this time of different worship and your continued support of our ministries, especially in this time of need.  In this time God and Our Community of Faith are the constants in our lives.

Blessings and Peace

Fr. Michael

Special Notice From Bishop Benfield

Stopping the spread of COVID-19 in Arkansas Churches

From now until April 10, we as a diocese will implement the following practices to help stop the spread of COVID-19. We will reevaluate these practices at that time to determine if they should be continued or altered.

Personal Best Practices:

  • If you are sick, have a fever, or have any symptoms (such as coughing, sneezing, runny nose, etc.), please stay home. Any teachers, nursery workers, greeters, Eucharistic Ministers, or Eucharistic Visitors who have visible signs of illness are not to serve.
  • Practice social distancing. No handshaking, hugging, or other close physical contact while at church – before, during, or after service.

Church Policies:

  • Soap and paper towels must be available in all bathrooms. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer should be available in the church, classrooms, and nursery.
  • Offering plates should not be passed up and down each pew. You may choose to have only ushers hold the offering plates, or you may place the offering plates in prominent locations.
  • Regularly clean and disinfect high-touch areas, such as door handles and alter rails.
  • Empty baptismal fonts and holy water containers.
  • Evaluate your coffee hour practices to ensure multiple people are not handling food and utensils. Consider beverages only.

During Holy Communion:

  • Use metal patens and chalices only (no pottery).
  • Use communion wafers only (no homemade bread).
  • At the Eucharist, only the celebrant will receive the Sacrament in both kinds. Everyone else will receive only consecrated Bread. On Good Friday, April 10, there will be no distribution of the reserved Sacrament.
  • Anyone serving Holy Communion must sanitize his or her hands with alcohol-based sanitizer before distributing the consecrated Bread. (This instruction applies to Eucharistic Visitors as well.)
  • Eucharistic Visitors will take only consecrated bread to the sick and shut-in.

Note to members of the clergy: Contrary to the instructions on March 4, you may continue to send Eucharistic Visitors to visit shut-ins. Please make certain that they are instructed on proper hand-washing and sanitization before they make any visits

Larry Benfield