Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Dear fellow parishioners,
We hope and pray that this message finds you safe and healthy as we face the 2020 coronavirus pandemic together. Our prayers have been with each of you during this challenging quarantine period, and we are working diligently to begin the reopening process at our Church. During a virtual meeting of the Parish Council held Sunday, June 15, we unanimously voted to reopen the Church for limited attendance for the celebration of the Divine Liturgy on Sunday, June 28. However, we must move patiently and carefully into the phased reopening of our church for the safety of each of our members and for our community at large. In order to ensure that the reopening of our Church occurs in a safe manner, we are implementing several necessary measures in compliance with the most recent guidelines established for parishes within the Metropolis of Atlanta under the guidance of His Eminence, Metropolitan Alexios, which are also in compliance with the safety directives of the Fire Marhall of the State of Louisiana. These most recent guidelines are open to all; and can be found on the Metropolis website at https://atlmetropolis.org/news/important-covid-19-upadate. Because of the specifics of our parish, we have appointed a Parish Reopening Committee, composed of George Economides, Ray Malek, and Charis Charalambous, who have drafted a list of safety measures to be followed specifically at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, which are attached as a separate document in this email. Due to space limitations it is of utmost importance that each parishioner prayerfully reflect upon the decision to return to the liturgy, understanding the mandated necessity to abide by the current guidelines; and in accordance with each member’s concern for health and safety. At this time, the spatial limits of our parish will only allow for up to 14 people to be in attendance at any given service. With this letter we are thus asking each member to provide us with a notification of interest in attending the Divine Liturgy via email response. As the parish council secretary, I will be responsible for coordinating attendance at the liturgy, and will ensure that parishioners expressing interest in attending Sunday Divine Liturgy will be notified ahead of time of seat availability. We again understand that the coronavirus pandemic has caused great concern regarding the most efficient way to move forward while considering the health and safety of all. We therefore wish to reassure each of our parishioners that we understand and respect their individual decisions, regardless of what those decisions might be. Our parish has overcome many difficult and tumultuous circumstances in the past, and together, by the Grace of God we will overcome the threat of the coronavirus as well. Please do not hesitate to contact our priest, Fr. Anthony, or our parish council president, Herodotos Pentas if you have any questions or concerns. Prayerfully, Jaycob Warfel Parish Council Secretary
Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church – Baton Rouge, LA.
Return to Church
Parish Council, Clergy and Parishioner Guidelines, Responsibilities, and Duties In conformity with the requirements of the Metropolis of Atlanta and the State of Louisiana, the Parish Council and the parish Priest work together to insure that all tasks and directives as published will be adhered to and enforced as we re-open our church for services under the conditions imposed by the Covid-19 virus. Below is a compilation of issues and matters that the Council has been and continues to be involved in with respect to re-opening the church for services in the not-too-distant future. This is not necessarily an exhaustive summary of such activities; things change, and both the Council and the Priest will continue to work together to address issues and changes as they might occur. Return to Church Date and Service Time Start Date: Sunday 6/28/2020
Sunday Service Time: 10:00am–11:00am (Church service reduced to approx. 1 hour) Parish Council Issuance of directives to our congregation for a safe return to regular services. Preparation for our first and successive services has and will involve the following: o Supply of any materials or things necessary to having people present again in the church o Publication and dispatch to the congregation of the duties and responsibilities of the Congregation while attending services at the church o Maintaining awareness of possible ongoing changes to directives and coordination with either the Diocese or the State of Louisiana for attendance at church services o Assistance to the Congregation upon arrival at the church and during the services o Temperature checks of anyone entering the church o Directing persons to pre-designated locations approved for distancing during services o Obtaining signatures of persons entering the church on a document that has been prepared for that purpose o Obtaining sanitization services from an outside source for the first cleaning and determining whether we ourselves can clean the church and things necessary to the services both before and after the services Contacting professional sanitization services and having them sanitize the church for the first service. Comparing our own ability to perform satisfactory sanitization measures as compared to professional services. Deciding on a course of action in each required instance
2 o Enforcement of all conditions required of Congregants while at church per the guidelines for Congregants in this document o Establishing a directive for the role of Chanter and have them alternate services. o Assign an Attendance Coordinator. o In the event of a Baptism or funeral, the Council will work with the priest and the pertinent Congregants to affect a safe rite
Priest He will wear a mask at all times and with as few exceptions as possible. He will not make any object available to anyone for adoration while performing the Liturgy or other rite. He will not offer his hand to a Congregant in the ordinary fashion of the Liturgy. He will not do the Great Entrance in the fashion customary for our church. He will not perform a sermon in the interest of brevity of the rite. He will perhaps lower his mask during Holy Communion if he deems it necessary. He will give instructions for receiving Holy Communion at that point in the Liturgy. He will not distribute the Antidoron after Holy Communion at this time. Parishioner Guidelines, Responsibilities, and Duties Any parishioner or visitor who has been ill with the Coronavirus should have a written physician’s statement to the effect that they no longer test positive before they can return to worship services at the church. The Fire Marshal has allowed no more than 13-14 persons (depending on family size) to be present in the nave (the pew area) of the church. In the Altar, the priest and 1 server can be allowed The church service will be available for parishioners on a reservation basis only. If you reserve and do not show up within 5 minutes of service starting your spot will be given away. I you reserve a spot, but the church is full you will be the first one added to the following weeks service. If you arrive after the capacity has been met, it will not be possible for you to attend the service. Please email or call to make your reservation request by Wednesday, and the Attendance Coordinator will reply by Thursday to inform the Parishioners of available seating. If something changes between Thursday and Saturday, inform the Attendance Coordinator immediately so that others can attend.
3 Before entering the church, the parishioners must stop at the table outside the front of the church, grab a copy of the Parish Return to Church Guideline, review, and sign off on page 4 of this document. Hands must be sanitized upon entry into the church Masks must always be worn by those age 2 or older except when receiving Holy Communion. Upon entering the church, the temperature of each person will be taken by a designated person. If the person’s temperature is above 100.4 F he or she will be kindly asked to return to their home, both for their own safety and that of others. Social distancing is to be observed at all times. You will be directed to your seating by an usher and are asked to remain in that area for the duration of the service. There will be a marker of some kind designating the position where you should remain during the service. Honor is to be shown to the Holy Icons and the Holy Cross only by doing your Sign of the Cross and bowing. Keep in mind not to kiss the Holy Icons or Holy Cross. We ask Parishioners to refrain from lighting candles within the Church. Do not shake hands or embrace others before, during, or after the service. Instructions for receiving Holy Communion will be explained by the priest at the appropriate time. Do not touch the priest or his vestments during the service. Bring your own liturgical book(s) if desired since there will be none available in the pews. At this time, the Antidoron will not be available. Where flowers are part of the service, the Faithful will take them as they leave the church; where personal anointment is part of the service, the priest will use a separate cotton-tipped swab for each person. There will be no collection taken; donations can be mailed to the church address shown below: Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church P.O. Box 82483 Baton Rouge, LA. 70884
There will be no “Fellowship” activity at any time.
4 At the conclusion of the service, please exit and return to your vehicle without congregating and socializing.
STATEMENT UPON ENTERING THE CHURCH FACILITIES By Voluntarily Entering this Church: Today’s Date ______________
I affirm that I am not currently ill or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. I acknowledge that while safety measures are being taken by the church, it cannot guarantee the safety of every person present. I agree to abide by the social distancing and safety guidelines being practiced in this church. I consent to hold the church and its representatives harmless against any damages or claims regarding my voluntary presence here. If I am not able to agree and affirm the above statements, I will not participate in this worship service in person and may choose to join a worship service online. Printed Name and Signature Affixed Below: Printed Name Signature
************************ Important: Supplemental Letter for re-opening churches An Important Letter from His Eminence Metropolitan Alexios
May 22, 2020
My Beloved co-celebrants in the Lord, esteemed Parish council Presidents and members, Philoptochos Presidents and members, Reverend Monastics and faithful, Χριστός ἀνέστη! Christ is Risen! I greet you my beloved with love and joy in the name of our Resurrected Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! I pray that this message finds you well, as we prepare to re-open our churches.
This past week we hosted conference calls via Zoom with all the parishes in our God protected Metropolis. I offer my sincere gratitude to all who participated in these meetings as they were very beneficial, not only for those who attended, but for myself as well. In those meetings, we were able to review, assess the regulations of each State and see how we can best celebrate our Church Services in each location. From our discussions, we received valuable information to share with all of you.
Therefore, in addition to the guidelines stated in the letter dated May 13, 2020, please consider these supplementary guidelines as well.
IMPORTANT: During This Re-Opening Phase, ALL Attendees Must Abide By The Following Guidelines
Prior registration is required to attend services.
Masks must be worn at all times by those age 2 and above except when receiving Holy Communion. Hands must be sanitized upon entry.
Before entering the church, the temperature of each person will be taken by a designated person. If the person’s temperature is above 100.4o F he or she will be kindly asked to return to their home, both for their safety and the safety of others.
You will be directed to your seating area by an usher and are asked to remain in that area for the duration of the service.
Honor is to be shown to Holy Icons and the Holy Cross by only doing your cross and bowing. Keep in mind not to kiss or to touch the Holy Icons and the Holy Cross.
Refrain from shaking hands or embracing others during the service.
Instructions for receiving Holy Communion and antidoron will be explained by the Clergy.
At the conclusion of the service, please exit and return to your vehicle without congregating.
Parishioners who have been sick with coronavirus should have the written medical doctor’s statement that they no longer test positive before they can return to in person worship services.
Thank you for your cooperation and understanding!
IMPORTANT: PLEASE READ THIS NOTICE BEFORE ENTERING THE CHURCH FACILITIES
By voluntarily entering this church facility:
• I affirm that I am not currently ill or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. • I acknowledge that while safety measures are being taken by the church, it cannot guarantee the safety of every person present. • I agree to abide by the social distancing and safety guidelines being practiced in this church. • I consent to hold the church harmless against any damages or claims regarding my voluntary presence here. If I am not able to agree to and affirm the above statements, I will not participate in this worship service in person and may choose to join online. ***********************************
Directives to be followed by the Clergy dealing with Covid-19 (Coronavirus)
Directives to be followed by the Clergy dealing with Covid-19 (Coronavirus), until further notice, based on the instructions of the US Center for Disease Control (CDC)
1) All parishes will provide stations in the Narthex and/or Nave for the Faithful to disinfect their hands as they enter the Church.
2) Signs will be posted at the entrance that recommend sick persons not attend the Services, but participate via television or the Internet (URL should be posted as well)
3) The clergy will not offer their hands to be reverenced and will refrain from touching the faithful either through handshakes or an embrace.
4) Signs will be posted recommending that honor be shown to Icons and the blessing cross by only bowing.
5) No books – Liturgical or Scriptural, will be kept in the pews. Parishioners will be instructed to bring their own books from home.
6) The Faithful will not receive the Antidoron from the Clergy, but on their own as they leave the church.
7) In the case of the use of flowers (Sunday of the Veneration of the Cross, Palm Sunday, Holy Friday), the Faithful will take them on their own as they leave the church. On Holy Wednesday (Holy Unction), each priest will anoint each Faithful using separate cotton-tipped swabs.
8) The Eucharist will be distributed as per usual.
9) In concelebrations, the clerical “Kiss of Peace” will be through bowing to one another. In parishes where the laity exchange the “Kiss of Peace,” they will avoid contact through bowing to one another. 10) After every service, all liturgical objects and surfaces to be thoroughly cleaned.
Important Message from Metropolitan Alexios March 16, 2020 To the Reverend Monastics & Clergy The Esteemed Archons, Parish Councils, Philoptochos Societies, and Faithful of the Metropolis of Atlanta: My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, I greet you with love and joy in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! I pray that this message finds you well, as we journey to the halfway point of Great Lent! The ever-changing situation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic (also known as the Coronavirus) means that your Metropolis wishes to offer you appropriate updates concerning how this disease will have an impact on our daily lives, including aspects of our liturgical and sacramental lives. This past Saturday the Archbishop and Holy Eparchial Synod of our Archdiocese had a teleconference, and discussed: the 2,000 year history and experience of our earthly Church, our expectations for the spiritual and physical well-being of all, as well as abiding by recommendations and directives of various State and Local government agencies. The CDC has recently issued a statement instructing those hosting large gatherings to either consider postponing their events for at least eight weeks—or, as an alternative, to limit the number of people in attendance. We are mindful of the importance of doing our part to limit the potential spread of this disease, both as parishes, and as a Metropolis. We understand at this moment, that our obligations as Orthodox Christians are to put into practice the directives of the scientific community, while still honoring our Holy Tradition by encouraging the health and safety of our community. In times such as these, I wish to stress the importance of individual discernment. Regarding any choice you make for church attendance, or anything else, examine your heart. Ask yourself: Am I healthy? Am I ill? Do I have health risks? Am I exposing others and myself unnecessarily? Etc. Therefore, be mindful that you are part of a family, and that any decisions you make will impact not only your immediate family but society at large. Or, simply to put in action the commandment of our Lord, “You shall love the Lord your God…and your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27) Please also remember that if you or a family member feels the need to abstain from any liturgical gatherings, the Church in its loving practice, always prays and thinks of the people who are “absent” for good cause. (Taken from the Liturgy of St. Basil) We encourage those whose communities have live-streaming capabilities to participate in the Liturgy in the safety of their homes. If anyone wishes not to come to church, the Holy Eparchial Synod extends this blessing, as such a decision is not a sin, but an act of love and responsibility for one’s self and their fellow human beings in order to comply with the guidelines of the CDC for social and group gatherings. We encourage the faithful to participate in the experience of scared worship at home, on TV, or using multimedia platforms. Continuing in this spirit of love and discernment, what follows are the official Metropolis guidelines for the bodily and spiritual well-being of all during this time: 1. All non-liturgical activities are to be suspended until further notice. This includes, but is not limited to: • Youth Ministries like Day Schools, Greek Schools, Catechetical Schools, HOPE/JOY, GOYA, OCF, Young Adult, and Hellenic Dance • Adult Education Classes or Bible Studies • Philoptochos • All ministries intended for seniors • Luncheons, speakers, Hellenic Fraternal Organizations and social gatherings (i.e. Book Clubs) • Athletic Activities • Service Projects (Should your parish have the means to conduct Bible Studies over video, you may use this technology until in-person events can be resumed) 2. If your parish has more than one Chant Stand, each stand should have only ONE Chanter or Choir Member. Your Chanter or Choir Member should take the place of all choirs (Mixed Gender, Youth, or Men’s) during the services 3. The passing of trays will be suspended, and the means to make an offering should be available through US Mail or online giving. 4. As for the Memorials, please write the names of your deceased to the clergy so that they can pray for the souls (without Kolyva). 5. Funerals shall be limited to the immediate family, and there will be neither visitations the evening before, nor makarias following the service. 6. In the event that the Sacrament of Baptism cannot be postponed, this service should also be limited just to the immediate family, with gatherings being avoided. 7. For these safety precautions to be effective, those attending church should immediately leave when the service is finished. For the sake of others, please do not socialize in the Narthex. Additionally, Sunday Coffee Fellowship hours should also be suspended until further notice. 8. Parishioners in the hospitals, or shut-ins will be supported during this time as well. 9. Parish Council and ministry meetings should continue to meet as normally scheduled and should only be conducted through conference calls or video conferencing. 10. Offices should remain open for their normal hours—but all business should be conducted over phone or by email. Being mindful of the fact that some of our parishioners do not have access to email, we ask that their family members please disseminate this information to those who might not have received it. Even if we cannot be present inside the church itself, we too can remain close to our Lord through prayer. I would like all of us—monastics, clergy and laity—to set a time each evening at 8 PM EST for the next few weeks until the Saturday of Lazarus, to use the attached prayer so that collectively we will unite our hearts and prayers to Almighty God, as the early Christians did: “So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.” (Acts 12:5) As we are in the time of the Feast of the Veneration of the Holy Cross, let us pray for one another and with this, I remain, Paternally and prayerful yours, +ALEXIOS Metropolitan of Atlanta
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