That’s the number of seats we will fit in the sanctuary in the After Times. Trust us, we measured it more than twice and arranged the chairs at least five times. It’s 64. Don’t be taken aback by the math, the planning for re-entry was, in reflection, an exercise of love. The Wardens called out each of your names and we made accommodations for each of you, should you decide to attend the in-person service. We have some limited space, in the gallery, for expansion by 12-16 seats if required, but right now, it’s 64. We will of course continue to provide an online service, live-streamed and recorded, for those who cannot attend the in-person service.
Once upon a time, you would just show up at church and sit where you wanted or occupy the pew you’ve sat in for 50 years. This is the After Times, and now you’ll need to plan a little bit. When you reserve your seat in advance, you’ll need to complete the COVID-19 screening questionnaire for all of the parishioners planning to attend the in-person service and provide contact tracing information. Please use the double doors at the top of the ramp (by the Canterbury Room that face 14th Avenue SW) to enter St. Stephen’s. When you arrive at St. Stephen’s, dutifully wearing your mask or face covering, you’ll be checked in and provided with verbal directions to go to your seating.
Entry: We will use one aisle for entry.
Entering the Sanctuary in this manner reduces the amount of passing, interaction, and potential contact between parishioners.
Please enter on the right side of the Sanctuary. Fill the seating from the front of the Sanctuary and from the left side. The very first people to arrive should be sitting near or in front of the ambo.
Bulletins and service materials: Your bulletin will be on your seat when you arrive. Please do not share bulletins between parishioners. We’ve put all of the hymnals and prayer books away; please do not use these service materials during the pandemic.
Accessibility: Parishioners who require use of the accessible entrance (with the ramp, at the doors by the Canterbury Room) will be provided with assistance. Seating locations for those parishioners who make use of a wheelchair has been planned and these locations have been clearly marked on the floor with a red “W”. Each of the aisles and distances have been planned with accessibility in mind.
The seating layout and variation of seating has been designed with your family in mind. Please sit where you have been instructed to sit by the sidesperson and greeters. Please refrain from using a kneeler (yes, we’ve put those away too). Please don’t move your chair; we’ve measured the distances.
Departure: We will use one aisle for exit.
Again, leaving church in this manner reduces the amount of interaction, passing and potential contact between parishioners.
We will exit the Sanctuary from the left side of the Sanctuary.
The parishioners seated at the rear of the Sanctuary will depart first. The parishioners seated closest to the front of the church will depart last.
We ask all who are able, to please leave through the Narthex door, using the stairs and exit onto 14th Avenue. If you require the use of the accessible exit, you will be provided with assistance from a sidesperson or greeter.
Things You’re Going to Want to Do, But Really Shouldn’t
Socializing after the Service: Go home after church, please. We know that you want to see your friends, your family, your community, but that’s not the way we do things in the After Times. You’ll want to have a secret eight person coffee hour (yes, we know the tricks). You’ll want to hug your friends you haven’t seen in six months. Don’t do it!
Singing in the Service: It’s amazing when you look at an Anglican service and particularly one at St. Stephen’s and realize how much of our service is sung joyously. We will still have music in the After Times, and parishioners may hum along. Still, you know it’s going to happen. Liz will cue up that hymn you’ve known and loved all your life, and you’ll be tempted to sing it out loud. Don’t do it!
Travelling Tots: We have a fairly free-wheeling environment for young people to grow in their love of Christ at St. Stephen’s. We won’t be able to offer Nursery and Excellent Adventure until a future stage of re-launch. The After Times means that that young people under 12 years old need to stay in the reach of their families and responsible adults at all times. Dancing is banned (it leads to poor physical distancing we’re told). We know, kids are kids, and being so will want to see each other, wander about, and run towards each other. Don’t let them do it!
Parking – Try to use the street parking versus the parking at the rear of the church in the alley. The street parking naturally provides a two-metre physical distance. To obtain the physical distancing requirement in the alley, a driver will need to skip every other parking spot in the rear to yield the same result.
Offering – Collection plates will not be passed during the in-person service and we encourage parishioners to use pre-authorized donation or online donation (our PayPal). For parishioners who must use an envelope for their offering, please consider mailing it to the church by postal mail; as a last resort, we are arranging to have one stationary contact-free offering plate available for collection of envelopes (this plate will not be passed).
Masks and Face Coverings – You will be required to wear a mask throughout the in-person service and while you are indoors at St. Stephen’s. If you have a medical condition such that you are unable to wear a mask or face covering, please consider whether you should be attending the in-person service in the first place…
This is a conscious and detailed activity and there will no doubt be changes following our trial run on September 6. We will continue to let all of you know what’s next, when it will happen, and who needs to be engaged.