Dear Apostles Family,
The day is drawing near when we will reopen our church to celebrate Pentecost and Holy Communion together. About three weeks ago, we announced May 30th as a target date for reopening Eucharistic services. Thanks be to God that we are able to gather for worship this Saturday at 10am!
By way of reminder, we will gather on Saturday because we pre-record our worship services. Recording services on Saturday ensures that we can post worship services on Sunday morning for those who will worship from home. We want to remain connected with our members who decide to worship from home. If you decide to remain at home, please know that we support you and remain connected with you in spirit.
Preparing for Pentecost
Last week our staff prepared the Apostles Nave to reopen the church for public worship services. The use of face masks, physical distancing, and hygienic practices such as hand washing remain the safest measures for reopening worship services. Practicing physical distancing is essential, yet it reduces the capacity of our seating to 50 persons. To adequately plan for this Saturday’s service, we ask that you submit an RSVP by Friday at 12pm. You may submit your RSVP by clicking this link.
As our staff and clergy prepare to reopen Eucharistic worship services at Apostles, several people have asked if congregational singing will be included in our services. Singing holds a central and cherished place in our worship, yet we must always care for the safety of our congregation.
Our diocese has provided resources for parishes to discern this matter. Our clergy and staff have reviewed and discussed additional research articles about congregational singing and the coronavirus. We have considered both the scientific evidence on this question and the importance of music in worship during difficult times.
The trend of coronavirus cases in Knox County has also been important in our discernment. Thankfully, we have not experienced widespread cases of coronavirus in the Knoxville area during this pandemic. Our health department reports encouraging trends in the containment of the coronavirus in the Knoxville area.
Given these factors, we have decided to include congregational singing at our Pentecost service (Saturday, May 30th, 10am) with the following conditions:
- Worship leaders, musicians, and vocalists will sing from a distance of at least 20 feet from the nearest pew of parishioners. Worship leaders will remove their masks during congregational songs, but will wear a face mask at all other times.
- A full choir will not gather at this time
- Physical distancing of at least 6 feet in all directions will be observed in the pews
- All congregants will wear a face mask throughout the service, including the singing of congregational hymns and songs
Preparing for June: “Said” and “Sung” Worship Services
As we enter a new phase of reopening worship services in June, we expect that our attendance will exceed the capacity of 50 people in our Nave. We will add a second worship service beginning Trinity Sunday, June 7th, at 10 AM. This second worship service will not have congregational singing.
In Anglican tradition, there is a custom for worship services known as the “said” and “sung” worship services. A “said” service is simpler, a service of scripture and holy communion without music. A “sung” service includes congregational singing with scripture and holy communion.
We will include this custom “said” and “sung” worship services with the following times:
- Sung Service: Saturdays, 10 AM (beginning Saturday, May 30th)
- Said Service: Sundays, 10 AM (beginning Trinity Sunday, June 7th)
Our congregation has a broad spectrum of needs during this time. All of us desire to gather in worship and reconnect with friends in Christ. In this phased reopening, we pray that these two services, along with our online worship service, will serve as many people in our Apostles family as possible.
The days of quarantine have left many of us weary of isolation and separation from friends. I think of Isaiah’s words to Israel when he announced they were returning home from exile: “Strengthen the weak hands, make firm the feeble knees.” We have known many days of weakness, yet we will be strengthened when we gather at the Lord’s Table again. We will see one another’s faces; we will hear the familiar voices of friends. We can linger in conversation with friends after the final Amen! These are good days to say “I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!”