COVID-19 Parish Reopening Guidelines
Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Household of God,
With the blessings of Metropolitan Methodios, and abiding by all State and local governmental directives regarding the reopening of Churches and all Houses of Worship, your clergy and Parish Council have been diligently planning for the day our parish will once again be open to our stewards, families, and friends. That day will be Saturday, June 6th at 9:30am for the Divine Liturgy of the Saturday of Souls. In these challenging times, there will be certain directives that must be implemented and followed to assure the safest possible environment for the faithful to worship, partake of the Holy Sacraments and reconnect with fellow parishioners from a safe distance.
Christ’s Church and this Parish have existed through persecution, plagues, infectious diseases, world wars, terrorist attacks, and other periods of challenge and concern. The Church and this community stand as a symbol of faith. The Church is the place where we come together as a community to pray, receive the sacraments and be in fellowship with one another. However, in this time, and because of the unpredictable nature of this insidious virus, there are directives, rules, and limitations, which we must accept in order to re-open and resume our liturgical practices in the safest possible way. These are rules—not suggestions—that we must enforce. We ask that each person understand and follow the directives listed below.
- According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), any building unoccupied for 7 days or longer need only receive “normal routine cleaning.” Based on these guidelines, the Church will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected prior to reopening. From this baseline, the building will be disinfected and sanitized between each service, including high traffic, high touch areas like bathrooms, doorknobs, and handles, etc.
- The congregation size for any service will be limited to the current regulations in New Hampshire. The Governor has set a limit of 40% of our official capacity. Our official capacity is 350, therefore 40% of our capacity is 140. Nevertheless, social distancing requirements may decrease that number as necessary. Pre-marked seating must abide by the social distancing regulations of 6 feet in all directions.
- If you are 65 years of age or older and if you have underlying health conditions, especially asthma, diabetes, hypertension, undergoing chemotherapy, or any age with known underlying conditions, you should stay home and continue to participate in the services via our Live Stream through Facebook or our Websit.
- If you are 65 years of age or older without known underlying health issues, we recommend that you consider staying home, participating in the services via our Live Stream.
- If you have any respiratory symptoms, fever or malaise at all, whether attributed to COVID-19 or not, you must stay home.
Advice from our Medical Team Advisors:
- Parishioners who have a temperature greater than 100.4 F should stay home.
- If you or anyone in your household have been exposed to anyone with a confirmed COVID-19 test you should not attend for at least 14 days.
Additional Guidance from the NH Governor’s Economic Reopening Taskforce for Places of Worship:
Symptoms of COVID-19
Person has any of the following symptoms of COVID-19:
- Fever (feeling feverish or a document temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher;
- Respiratory symptoms such as runny nose, nasal congestion, sore throat, cough or shortness of breath;
- Whole body symptoms such as muscle aches, chills and severe fatigue;
- Changes in the person’s sense of taste or smell.
Risks of COVID-19
- Person has been in close contact with someone who is suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 in the past 14 days? (note: healthcare workers caring for COVID-19 patients while wearing appropriate personal protective equipment can attend).
- Person has traveled in the past 14 days either:
- Internationally (outside the U.S.);
- By cruise ship; or
- Domestically (within the U.S.) outside of NH, VT, or ME on public transportation (e.g., bus, train, plane, etc).
Arriving at Church:
- Upon entering the Church, hand sanitizer will be supplied to each parishioner.
- If you are attending services at the Church, you must wear a protective mask at all times except for the moment when you may be receiving Holy Communion. If you do not have a mask, one will be given to you upon entering the Church.
- If you are under medical instruction not to wear a mask, you must clearly indicate this to the Parish Council member upon entering.
- If you are attending services with a child/children between the ages of two and five, a protective mask is at the discretion of the parent. Children under the age of 2 should not wear a protective mask.
- Only the front entrance, (under the portico) and handicap accessible entrances in the front and rear of the Church will be open. All other entrances will be locked. If entering from the front, please enter using the door to the hallway by the Church office and exit through the front doors in the Narthex.
- Enter Only and Exit Only signs will be posted to further assist in the orderly flow of our Parishioners.
- Access to the rear elevator will be available.
- The doors that are designated for entrance/exiting the church should be propped open so there is no need to touch the door handles, and to provide better airflow into the Sanctuary.
- The Fr. Athans Fellowship Hall will be closed and off limits for the foreseeable future. The downstairs Restrooms as well as the upstairs Restroom will be available.
- When arriving to Church, you should venerate the icons by bowing, but you should not physically kiss any icon.
- The Narthex will be staffed by one Parish Council member to assist you, as much as possible, without contact. Small candles will be given to you by a Parish Council member. You may still purchase Red devotional candles, but they will be placed by a Parish Council member on a side of your choosing of the iconostasis.
- A donation tray will be set up in the Narthex for candles. Please bring appropriate change for donations as cash cannot be exchanged.
- A Parish Council member will guide arriving parishioners to the Narthex to ensure appropriate distancing between arriving parishioners. Household family unit members may enter the Narthex together.
Seating in the Church:
- Seating inside the Church will be restricted to a 6 feet distance between parishioners (again defined as an “immediate household unit”) to the left and right and front and back. It is imperative that we maintain distancing at all times. Ushers will be present to seat you at an appropriate distance from other parishioners inside the Church.
- Family members who are not part of the same household must sit 6 feet apart without exception.
- There will be markers throughout the Church to help assure appropriate distancing.
Receiving Holy Communion:
- Fr. Timothy will administer Holy Communion in our traditional manner.
- Beginning from the rear pews, a Parish Council member will guide you down the center aisle, row by row. Following Holy Communion, each Parishioner will return to their pews via the side aisles. One-Way aisles will be marked. Please remember proper social distancing.
- Per the Metropolis of Boston, the faithful should be encouraged/instructed to tilt their heads back and open their mouth widely so that the priest can drop the Holy Communion in without the person closing his/her mouth on the spoon.
- The faithful should not wipe their lips/mouth on the communion cloth.
- No Antidoron will be given during Holy Communion.
Exiting the Church:
- At the conclusion of the Liturgy you will exit as directed by a Parish Council member, again beginning from the rear pews and moving up the center aisle, row by row to receive Antidoron. Please remember proper social distancing. The Antidoron will be placed in your hands with tongs.
- The final hands-free collection offering will be set up in the back of the Narthex as you are about to exit. Please be ready to make your offering into the collection basket. It is imperative that there is no lingering in the Narthex. Please exit the Church expeditiously using the Front Door (marked Exit Only).
- There will be no fellowship hour following services.
The foregoing rules for attending Liturgy and other services at our Church were taken from State directives, local guidelines, and the direction and guidance of His Eminence Metropolitan Methodios. Our collective intent is to assure all our Stewards, their families and our many friends, a safe and comforting experience in the Household of God. We want to see you, we want to pray with you, but above all, we want you all to be safe, healthy and able to worship in a manner that is best for our entire Parish.
May God continue to bless you and your families and keep you safe!
Fr. Timothy Curren
George P. Coussoule
Parish Council President
The life of the Orthodox Church perpetuates and fulfills the ministry of Jesus Christ. The close association between Christ and His Church is reflected in the images from the Scriptures which declare that Christ is the Head and the Church is His Body, and that Christ is the Bridegroom and the Church is His bride. Learn more»