My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Below is the letter from our Metropolitan.
Following his letter is our parish instructions. Please read carefully!
The nature of the COVID-19 pandemic changes continually and we are all struggling to do our part to meet this challenge. Health officials, local and national governments, and dedicated citizens are working diligently to curb the spread of this virus. I asked the clergy of our Metropolia to join me on a conference call to discuss measures that we should take to assist in this effort. Listening to their opinions and advice, we have decided to issue the following guidelines, knowing that changing circumstances may force different measures in the future:
CELEBRATION OF THE DIVINE LITURGIES AND OTHER SACRAMENTS
All parishes must adhere to the guidelines mandated by local, state and federal authorities.
For all services, including the Divine Liturgy, clergy may conduct services with one chanter, and one or two necessary assistants. The participation of the faithful should be in accordance with the parameters set forth by the authorities, or by encouraging them to participate through the various online resources. (Links to various live-streaming of the Services will be provided).
Parishes will establish a weekly program where the priests might be able to respond to all the requests of the faithful for Confession, Communion, and various prayers, in order to lessen the crowding of faithful in the Church;
Funerals are to be conducted with immediate family only.
Unless the situation is urgent, baptisms should be rescheduled.
Clergy will make themselves available to minister to the individual needs of their faithful.
Monastic communities are to be closed to all visitors.
The Mystery of Holy Unction may be celebrated by a single priest.
Clergy should take care that persons over 65 or are suffering from health problems have been communed.
Parishioners, but especially those living alone, should be called regularly to be reassured of the Church’s concern for their well being.
Spiritual packets containing: Anaphora, Holy Water, Oil from Holy Unction, should be prepared and distributed to those who request them, especially those who are unable to leave their homes.
The faithful should be encouraged to pray the Service of the Paraklesis to the Theotokos on Tuesdays and Thursdays at designated times: 9.00 PM-EST; 8.00 PM-CET and 6.00 PM-PST (Texts in English and Romanian are attached). On Wednesdays and Fridays, you can follow the Presanctified Liturgy at the Metropolitan Cathedral in Chicago and broadcast live starting at 5.00 pm – CET, and on Sundays, St. Basil’s Liturgy at 9.30 am-CET.
RELIGIOUS EDUCATION AND AROLA
All regular Religious Education classes, as well as meetings and activities of AROLA, and other normal parish activities, such as coffee hours, bake sales, etc., will be suspended for the present time.
The Metropolitan Department of Religious Education will provide weekly video and print materials for parents and children.
AROLA will have a Project to provide short weekly lectures on spiritual themes by nuns, preotese, or qualified clergy.
OUR PARISH NEWS
If you have had any symptoms in the recent weeks or think you might have been exposed, refrain from coming to church.
It is recommended by the state authorities to wear masks.
Please wear your mask while in Church.
No coffee hour.
We are allowed inside the Church only 25% of building capacity.
There are also sanitizing stations throughout the church. Please use them but do not remove them. Please wash your hands regularly and thoroughly.
All the services will be live-streamed on Holy Protection Orthodox Christian Church’s Facebook account.
Here are some resources from the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of USA that will help us continue our spiritual life, church instruction for children, youth and adults. Please access them.
Resources for the parish administration
Resources for parents, ministry/youth
Resources for Everyone: Orthodox Life at Home
Assembly of Bishops Releases Guidelines and Considerations for Safer Orthodox Church Services During the COVID-19 Pandemic
As parishes open their doors, and faithful around the country return to church, the Assembly of Bishops’ COVID-19 Task Force – comprised of priests, public health professionals, risk management experts, and lawyers – has produced updated Guidelines and Considerations for Safer Orthodox Church Services During the COVID-19 Pandemic. The document provides simple, practical measures to help keep both the clergy and faithful safe while practicing the faith.
You are all in my prayers.