A guide to our return to in-person worship

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On September 13, 2020, St. Thomas’s will resume in-person worship on Sundays at 9:00 a.m. and Wednesdays at 12:00 noon. Both services will be open to the congregation and anyone else in the community who might like to attend, but with safety precautions designed to help keep everyone healthy. This guide answers some basic questions about how things will work.

Who can come to church?
Anyone can be present for worship. We ask that those who have any of the major COVID-19 symptoms – cough, fever, shortness of breath, loss of taste or smell, sore throat – or who know they have been exposed to COVID-19 not attend in person until they have appropriate medical clearance. We also encourage those who are at high risk of complications of infection to consider delaying their return to the in-person services.

Will “YouTube church” end when in-person services start again?
No! We will continue to live-stream all of our services. Those who can’t yet return to live worship, those who may be traveling, and even those who have never been to St Thomas’s can keep worshiping with us in exactly the same way they have done over the past few months.

How can I know I’ll be safe in church?
We will be taking a number of steps to keep everyone safe. All those in attendance will be required to wear masks at all times (with the exception of readers, the preacher, and other when they are “on camera”). Ample quantities of hand sanitizer will be made available at the church door, in the narthex, near the altar, and in other key places, and reminders about using it will be given during services. Seating will be limited and configured to maintain safe distances between non-related people. A sign-in book will be in place and staffed at the church door to keep a record of all who attend each service and provide a way of following up if someone should later become sick. And all high-contact surfaces and touch points (like pew seats and door handles) will be sanitized after each service.

Will church look different?
Some aspects of our worship will be different. Singing will be kept to a minimum. Communion will be distributed in one kind (bread) only, in small plastic cups that help minimize contact with the hosts. The Peace will be passed only with “touch-free” gestures. We will encourage those who wish to gather to visit with friends before or after church to do so outside, or at least to maintain safe distances.

How many people can attend in person?
We estimate that 36 to 38 people can be accommodated in the nave and the balcony. At such time as more people want to attend, if the state- mandated capacity limits have not changed, we have plans for overflow seating in the parish hall. To give us an idea of how many people to expect, we will be using an advance reservation system – Sign-Up Genius (the same one that was used this summer for food donations) for Sunday services.

The reservation “book” for each Sunday will open the prior Wednesday. You will receive an email from Cana with the link. Those without reservations will not necessarily be turned away, but we hope everyone will pitch in to help make church attendance planning as efficient as possible.

For the time being, the Wednesday service will be open without the need for advance sign-up.

Will there be coffee hour and Sunday School and other usual stuff?
For the time being, there will be no coffee hour or in-person Christian education for children. Most events in the Christian education for adults calendar will be offered in a blended in-person and virtual format. Other church meetings and classes will continue to be virtual until the Vestry decides to permit them to resume.

How can I get other questions answered?
If you have other questions or concerns, please contact Fr. Howie (302-368- 4644 or Howell.sasser.jr@gmail.com) or any other member of the parish’s reopening task force (Deacon Cecily, Barb Eldred, Sally Price, Martha Holyoke, Ronnie Wilbur, and Brian Smith).

Resuming In-Person Worship on September 13, 2020

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We are sharing an overview of what in-person worship will look like, beginning NEXT Sunday, September 13, 2020. All services will continue to be broadcast through YouTube and Sunday worship will remain at 9 a.m. You can look for the sign up email fro Sunday worship from me on Wednesday. Please do not hesitate to reach out to Fr. Howie at StThomassRector@googlegroups.com with any questions regarding the guidelines, and please contact the office with any questions regarding the sign-up for in-person worship or YouTube broadcasting. Your comments and questions are appreciated!!

Our friends at St. Nicholas are still most welcome to worship with us online every Sunday although their parish will return to in-person gathering this week. Next Sunday, September 13, 2020, we will also begin offering in-person worship, still at 9 a.m. Please look for upcoming email communication about what this in-person service will be like, and what the safety protocols will be. Each service will continue to be streamed, and I suspect many of us will still be participating from home. Regardless of whether we are together in-person or virtually, we are connected by the Holy Spirit.

Kind Regards,
Cana Hartman, Parish Administrator
StThomassOffice@googlegroups.com or (302) 368-4644

Carpenter’s Helper newsletter for September 6, 2020

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Happy Friday faith family!  I hope this finds you all well.  See the Carpenter’s Helper newsletter for the week of September 6, 2020. In it is a call from Bishop Brown to share your artistic talents. I know there are many artists in our faith family who use many different media: photography, painting, collage, etc.  Share your gifts!  Also, the schedule for 2020-2021 Novel Theology is available for meetings via Zoom at 10:30 a.m. on one Sunday a month.  

This week, we will have our 3 regular services, as well as a memorial service:

  • Sunday, September 6, 2020 at 9 a.m. – Worship Service, Rite II with music LIVE from St. Thomas’s on YouTube.
  • Wednesday noon – intercessory prayer LIVE on YouTube a leaflet for Pentecost.
  • Thursday at 7 p.m. – Compline evening prayers with Deacon Cecily.  ALL are Welcome.  Let me know if you need a Zoom link for this calming and prayerful end to the day.
  • Saturday, September 12, 2020 at 11 a.m. – Bob Browning memorial live on YouTube
  • Sunday, September 13, 2020 at 9 a.m. – Worship Service, Rite II with music LIVE from St. Thomas’s on YouTube and in-person (in-person guidelines).

In this strange time, the church is aware that some of its members are struggling to make ends meet. If you are in this situation, please let the clergy know of your needs, pray for the church, and feel no guilt about your giving. But if you are able to give, options for giving include mailing a check to your church or online giving. See our Giving page

Please let me know if you have any meetings – virtual or otherwise – that you would like to have included on the Parish calendar.   

To see all events or news, visit our website, check FaceBook, or check out the posted events on the board next to the name tag station. Recent Newsletters, Sermons, or Announcements are also available.

ALL are Welcome!  Please let me know if you’d like a paper copy of any of the leaflets mailed to you.

Kind Regards,
Cana Hartman, Parish Administrator
StThomassOffice@googlegroups.com or (302) 368-4644

Novel Theology for 2020-2021

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Meetings will be held on the Sundays listed below at 10:30 a.m. via ZOOM until it is safe and comfortable for us all to meet again in person. Please contact the office at StThomassOffice@googlegroups.com for a ZOOM link.

Oct. 25, 2020: A New Song by Jan Karron
Nov. 22, 2020: The Girls of Ennismore by Patricia Falvey (pp361)
Dec. 27, 2020: Where Courage Calls by Jeanette Oke and Laurel Oke Logan (pp329)
Jan. 24, 2021: Season of Wonder by Rae Anne Thayne (pp339)
Feb. 14, 2021: The Peppermint Tea Chronicles by Alexander McCall Smith (pp310)
March 21, 2021: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel by Deborah Meggoch
April 18, 2021: Dimity and the Heart of Gold by Nancy Atherton (pp228)
May 23, 2021: Fly Girls by Keith O’Brien

Worship service for September 6, 2020

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Pentecost 14 Greetings faith family!  I hope this finds you well.  Sunday, September 6, 2020 is the Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost. On Sunday, connect to our worship service at St. Thomas’s YouTube channel – this is the same link each week. Please subscribe and ring the notification bell (twice) so you never miss a service. Here is the service leaflet  that accompanies the service. There are paper copies available to be mailed. If you would like one, please let me know. We will be streaming LIVE from St. Thomas’s at 9 a.m.

Our friends at St. Nicholas are still most welcome to worship with us online every Sunday, however their parish will return to in-person gathering this week.  Next Sunday, September 13, 2020, we will also begin offering in-person worship, still at 9 a.m.  Please look for upcoming email communication about what this in-person service will be like, and what the safety protocols will be.  Each service will continue to be streamed, and I suspect many of us will still be participating from home.  Regardless of whether we are together in-person or virtually, we are connected by the Holy Spirit:  For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. (Matthew 18:20).

In this strange time, the church is aware that some of its members are struggling to make ends meet. If you are in this situation, please let the clergy know of your needs, pray for the church, and feel no guilt about your giving. But if you are able to give, options for giving include mailing a check to your church or online giving. See our Giving page

See past sermons or bulletins on our Recent Sermons page.

I look forward to worshiping together on Sunday! 

Kind Regards,
Cana Hartman, Parish Administrator
StThomassOffice@googlegroups.com or (302) 368-4644

Rector’s Summer / Fall 2020 update

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26 August 2020

Dear friends,

At a recent funeral (the first in the church since February) we heard the famous reading from Ecclesiastes that begins, “For everything there is a season.”  More on my mind lately is how it ends: “That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already is; and God seeks out what has gone by.”  After six months in which it has felt as if the world has been holding its breath and time has been on pause, this seems like a good time to look back and look ahead.

My first and most important message is to say thank you.  We devoted a Carpenter’s Helper issue to this theme, but I must add my own thanks.  Many people have kept St. Thomas’s going through the COVID Spring and Summer of 2020.  The altar has been tended.  Meals have been made and delivered. The grounds have been planted and weeded and cleared of storm damage.  Pledges and other donations have continued to come in.  Our ability to share our events over the Internet has expanded rapidly.  A wonderful new chapter in our cooperation with St Nicholas’s has begun.  To all those who have made these and other things happen, I extend my personal thanks and the thanks of the parish.  Well done, good and faithful servants of our Lord Jesus.

With that as a launching pad, we are ready to begin looking forward.  Committees have been meeting over the summer to work on stewardship and Christian education for children and youth.  They will begin to share the fruits of their work soon. 

The first offerings of the adult education program for the year will also be coming up in September.  For these and other events, we are excited to be able to use what we have learned about Zoom and YouTube to make sure that everyone has a chance to participate. 

Another small group has joined with members of St. Nicholas’s to explore ways we can cooperate on service, fellowship, and worship.  Expect to hear more about this mutual ministry in the coming weeks.

At a meeting of the clergy this week, the diocesan Commission on Ministry rolled out a new program to help parishes organize small groups for the deepening of faith and the discernment of new opportunities to which God may be calling us.  I am excited about this initiative and am confident that many at St. Thomas’s will find it to be a powerful faith fertilizer.

Another diocesan group has been working on our response to racism inside and outside the church.  The first of their recommendations and the programs they inspire will be coming to St. Thomas’s and churches all over Delaware this fall.  I encourage everyone to join in this part of the church’s mission to heal creation.

And I am pleased to report that the Vestry has voted to resume in-person worship at St. Thomas’s on Sunday, September 13th.  A group of parishioners met over the summer to produce a plan for a safe resumption of services.  This plan has been approved by the Diocese and will guide us in helping to make sure those who wish to be present for worship can do so with the least risk possible.

For the present, our weekly schedule will remain the same: Sunday morning at 9:00 a.m. and Wednesday at noon.  All services will continue to be live-streamed.  Some details of our routine will look a bit different.  Numbers will be limited and safety precautions like masks and hand sanitizing will be firmly in place.  Look for another communication in the next week to give more information and answer some frequently asked questions.

And so, friends, we approach the end of the summer with a lot to show for the odd “in-between” days we have been passing through.  I hope your summer has been restful and that, like me, you are ready for some new beginnings.  May God shower you with every spiritual blessing as we move toward what is yet to be.

Peace and be well,
Fr. Howie+
The Reverend Dr. Howell C. Sasser, Jr.

Carpenter’s Helper newsletter for August 30, 2020

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Happy Friday faith family!  I hope this finds you all well. See the Carpenter’s Helper newsletter for the week of August 30, 2020. In it is a write up about our Solar Panels installation!  Also, the 2020-21 Adult Christian Education Program has been announced!  This looks to be an absolutely stellar program with interesting 2-4 week series, as well as some excellent special events with guest presenters.  This year, you can explore topics ranging from world religions to The Lord of the Rings to the history of our own St. Thomas’s Parish.  All of these offerings will be available in person as well as online at 10:30 a.m. on Sundays. 

This week, we will have three services.  ALL are Welcome; contact the office to have the leaflet mailed to you.

  • Sunday, August 30, 2020 at 9 a.m. – Worship Service, Rite II with music LIVE from St. Nicholas on YouTube.
  • Wednesday noon – intercessory prayer LIVE on YouTube a leaflet for Pentecost.
  • Thursday at 7 p.m. – Compline evening prayers with Deacon Cecily.  ALL are Welcome.  Let me know if you need a Zoom link for this calming and prayerful end to the day.
  • Sunday, September 6, 2020 at 9 a.m. – Worship Service, Rite II with music LIVE from St. Thomas’s on YouTube.

In this strange time, the church is aware that some of its members are struggling to make ends meet. If you are in this situation, please let the clergy know of your needs, pray for the church, and feel no guilt about your giving. But if you are able to give, options for giving include mailing a check to your church or online giving. See our Giving page

Please let me know if you have any meetings – virtual or otherwise – that you would like to have included on the Parish calendar.   

To see all events or news, visit our website, check FaceBook, or check out the posted events on the board next to the name tag station. Recent Newsletters, Sermons, or Announcements are also available.

Kind Regards,
Cana Hartman, Parish Administrator
StThomassOffice@googlegroups.com or (302) 368-4644

Carpenter’s Helper newsletter for August 23, 2020

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See the Carpenter’s Helper newsletter for the week of August 23, 2020. In it, you read a message of thanksgiving.  See the most recent edition of our Diocese weekly newsletter titled The Net, as well as the quarterly magazine, The Communion. And, here is a link to the Diocese’s “regathering” guide.  

This week, we will have three services.  ALL are Welcome; contact the office to have the leaflet mailed to you.

  • Sunday, August 23, 2020 at 9 a.m. – Worship Service, Rite II with music LIVE from St. Nicholas on YouTube.
  • Wednesday noon – intercessory prayer LIVE on YouTube a leaflet for Pentecost.
  • Thursday at 7 p.m. – Compline evening prayers with Deacon Cecily.  ALL are Welcome.  Let me know if you need a Zoom link for this calming and prayerful end to the day.
  • Sunday, August 30, 2020 at 9 a.m. – Worship Service, Rite II with music LIVE from St. Thomas’s on YouTube.

This Tuesday, August 25, 2020, is Ladies’ Night OUT on the front lawn at 6 p.m.  Bring your own snacks, beverage, and chair.  This is going to be FUN!  Please contact me if you have any questions.

The 21 Day Racial Equity Challenge has begun, but you can still participate.  Learn more, and sign up!

In this strange time, the church is aware that some of its members are struggling to make ends meet. If you are in this situation, please let the clergy know of your needs, pray for the church, and feel no guilt about your giving. But if you are able to give, options for giving include mailing a check to your church or online giving. See our Giving page

Please let me know if you have any meetings – virtual or otherwise – that you would like to have included on the Parish calendar.   

To see all events or news, visit our website, check FaceBook, or check out the posted events on the board next to the name tag station. Recent Newsletters, Sermons, or Announcements are also available.

Kind Regards,
Cana Hartman, Parish Administrator
StThomassOffice@googlegroups.com or (302) 368-4644

Worship service for August 23, 2020

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Pentecost 12 Sunday, August 23, 2020 is the Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost. We will be streaming LIVE from St. Nicholas at 9 a.m. On Sunday, connect to our worship service at St. Thomas’s YouTube channel. Please subscribe and ring the notification bell (twice) so you never miss a service. Here is the service leaflet  that accompanies the service. There are paper copies available to be mailed. If you would like one, please let me know.

In this strange time, the church is aware that some of its members are struggling to make ends meet. If you are in this situation, please let the clergy know of your needs, pray for the church, and feel no guilt about your giving. But if you are able to give, options for giving include mailing a check to your church or online giving. See our Giving page

See past sermons or bulletins on our Recent Sermons page.

I look forward to worshiping together on Sunday! 

Kind Regards,
Cana Hartman, Parish Administrator
StThomassOffice@googlegroups.com or (302) 368-4644

Ladies’ Night OUT invitation

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Good morning ladies of St Thomas!  Thank you for all of your replies regarding our gathering this month.  Based on your feedback, we will plan to gather on the front lawn (just like June).  In the event that it is over 85 degrees, or rainy, etc., I will email you no later than Tuesday morning with a ZOOM invitation.

ALL ladies are Welcome to join in the fun!  Tuesday, August 25, 2020 at 6 p.m.⁠

Bring your own drinks, snacks, bug spray, fan, and lawn chair/blanket⁠

Please bring your mask for those moments when we can’t stand to stay more than 6 feet apart.⁠

I’m really looking forward to seeing some of your beautiful faces next Tuesday!

Kind Regards,
Cana Hartman, Parish Administrator
StThomassOffice@googlegroups.com or (302) 368-4644