Restoring Parish Life – Opening Announcement – The following was sent out via email on
Monday, June 8th
“Rejoice in the Lord!”
Dear Parish Members,
By the grace of God, starting this weekend, we are once again able to welcome you for worship and
Divine Liturgy. Our first open service will be Sunday, June 14th – 9am Orthros; 10am Divine
As we have been sharing, the full restoration of our parish life will be a process and at this first opening of our doors there will be noticeable changes and limitations. Please be reminded that all these things are being done in love, putting aside our self-interests out of respect and care for our entire parish family and community. We are working in close coordination with the Metropolis following the guidelines they have provided, along with the regulations of our civil and health authorities.
We are required by state and local regulations to maintain social distancing standards and adhere to
capacity limits. This means we will only be able to accommodate 40 parishioners during Orthros and Divine Liturgy Services at this time. We will adjust this as regulations changes.
For the foreseeable future – ALL PARISHIONERS MUST SIGN UP FOR SUNDAY SERVICES IN ADVANCE. For those not able to attend in person, services will continue to be live-streamed on our Facebook page. Details on how to reserve a seat for services are found below. Before signing up, please consider the following:
• Parishioners who are sick or at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 are strongly
encouraged to refrain from attending services at this time. This includes those who are 65 or older, have underlying medical conditions, have been exposed to the virus, or are experiencing
symptoms of illness. (If you are high-risk with underlying health challenges, you can make a
personal appointment with Father Stephen to receive Holy Communion during the week.)
• All parishioners will be required to adhere to the social distancing and safety guidelines being practiced in our Parish. For now, this does include masks being worn by all parishioners over the age of 2 while in the church building.
• We will need to collect the names and contact information for everyone attending services. This is being done solely for the purposes of contact tracing should we become aware COVID-19 exposure has taken place within church. God-willing we will not need to use it.
• We would like you to arrive at church between 9-9:30am! You will need to check in when you arrive and be ushered to your seats one family at a time. Your early arrival will help to ensure timely seating and minimize distraction during services.
How to Reserve Your Spot for Sunday Services:
1. Email the church office on Wednesday only at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please
include your name, the names of those attending with you and a contact phone number for each
person (if you do not all live in the same household).
• Sign-ups will be taken in order according to when emails are received until our capacity is
reached. (The email timestamp will be used as reference.)
• An exception will be made for our few parishioners who do not have email – they may call the
church office to sign up for services (also on Wednesday only).
2. Confirmation will be sent via email on Thursday to let you know if you have a spot reserved for Sunday.
• Responses will be sent to everyone who sends a sign-up email so you will know if you are
confirmed or not. If you do not hear back by end of day Thursday, contact the Church Office.
• For now, we are only taking sign-ups for a week at a time (no future reservations). If you are not
confirmed to attend this week, you will need to sign up again next week.
A few important notes:
• Signup emails received before Wednesday will not be considered.
• If you are confirmed to attend service but your plans change – please be sure contact the Church Office as soon as possible if you need to cancel your reservation so your spot can be filled with someone else.
• It is our desire to give as many people as possible the opportunity to come back to church so for
now, parishioners will not be allowed to attend services 2 Sundays in a row.
• This sign up process applies to Sunday Services only. You will not need to sign up for services held Monday-Saturday. These will be handled on a first come/first seated basis until capacity is reached. (You will be required to sign in when you arrive for contact tracing purposes only.)
Be mindful this is new and not ideal for all of us. Your patience, flexibility and compassion are
appreciated. We will work to make improvements as we learn through this.
Please look for more detailed information in the coming days on specific expectations and guidelines for attending services.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR PATIENCE AND COOPERATION and let us all thank God for every
blessing. I look forward to seeing you in church again soon.
With Love in Christ,
Restoring Parish Life Update – The following was sent out via email on Saturday, June 6th
Dear Saint Anthony Faithful:
We are happy to share the Reopening Plan for St. Anthony has been submitted to the Metropolis for approval. This is an important step and signals we are just days away from reopening our doors to parishioners. An email update will be sent just as soon as we have an official date – we anticipate it will be next week. In the meantime, you can once again follow live-streaming of services on our Facebook page.
When you return to church services there will be noticeable changes. While we wait for the approval of our Reopening Plan, we would like to share some of the details we know for sure –
• We will only be able to accommodate 40 parishioners during Orthros and Divine Liturgy services. Factors that influenced this decision –
o Our state and county authorities have established a 50-person capacity limit for all churches
o We are required to maintain social distancing regulations (parishioners must be seated 6-ft apart, except if members of the same household)
o Our clergy, chanters, acolytes, and usher/support teams are included in the 50-person limit
❖ As state and local authorities increase capacity limits, so will we.
• Parishioners will need to sign-up in advance to attend Sunday services. The details of this sign-up process will be communicated after our plan is approved.
• No advanced sign-up will be needed for Monday-Saturday services. These will be handled on a first come, first seated basis until capacity is reached.
• All parishioners attending services will need to provide their name and contact information. This is being done solely for the purpose of contact tracing should we become aware Covid-19 exposure has taken place within church. God-willing we will not need to use it.
• Parishioners who are sick or at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 are strongly encouraged to refrain from attending services at this time. This includes those who are 65 years or older, have underlying medical conditions, have been exposed to the virus, or are experiencing symptoms of illness.
• All parishioners over the age of 2 will be required to wear masks while in church. We encourage you to bring your own but will have some on hand should you need one.
• Ushers will be seating you according to social distancing standards and to maximize our capacity. Please be patient and understanding as they will not be able to accommodate personal seating preferences.
• There will be no fellowship/coffee hour following services.
We understand some of these things may seem unnecessary, uncomfortable, or inconvenient to some of you. Please be reminded all changes are being done in love and out of an abundance of caution as we keep the health and safety of all parishioners as our top concern. We will continue to follow the guidelines provided by our Metropolis, as well as the regulations of civil and health authorities as we work towards a full restoration of our parish life.
In the days ahead you can expect:
• An announcement of our official reopening date
• An increase in email updates to provide the details you will need as you prepare for your return to church
• Enhancements to our website for easier access to reopening information
This is new and unfamiliar territory for all of us. We will make adjustments along the way as we learn and identify opportunities for improvement. Your continued patience, flexibility and good will is appreciated. We look forward to seeing you very soon! “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer” (Romans 12:12)
With Love in Christ,
Father Stephen & the Parish Readiness Team.
Saint Anthony GOC Readiness Team:
•Jim Phillips – Overall Readiness & Greeters/Ushers
•Dr. Andreia Pop – Parish “Health Officer”
•Erik DoBroka – Regulatory Compliance Lead
•Father Stephen/Danilo Simich – Liturgical Practices & Worship Lead
•Maria Borrego/Sophia McCutcheon – Health & Safety Lead
•Dimi Sakelarios – Communication Lead
Restoring Parish Life Update – The following was sent out via email on Friday, May 29th
Dear Saint Anthony Faithful:
We hope that you and your families continue to stay safe and resilient during these challenging
The work to prepare St. Anthony for a return of our cherished parishioners is in full swing –
however we are not there yet. The news of restrictions being gradually lifted in our communities
is welcome news and increases our excitement to return to church, however it does not signal an
end to this pandemic or the challenges we still face. The health and safety of our parishioners
and our community continues to be of paramount importance to us.
As much as we all wish we could immediately go back to church life the way it was before the
pandemic, this is not possible right now. The Readiness Team we have assembled is working
diligently to adapt to the guidelines provided by the Metropolis, as well as our civil
authorities. It is important we approach this in a thoughtful and thorough way.
If you have not yet had a chance, we encourage you to watch the message shared by
Metropolitan Gerasimos last week. This 10-minute video provides insight, wisdom, and
inspiration to carry with us as we work together to navigate the path before us.
It is important to remember that when we can welcome parishioners back, things will be quite
different and there will be noticeable changes. Fewer parishioners in the pews, face masks,
social distancing, new ways to enter, exit, and move about the church, no choir and no coffee
fellowship are just some of the things that will be temporarily changed for the immediate
future. As you experience these adjustments, please keep in mind they are being done in love
with the goal of keeping everyone as safe as possible.
What you can look forward to in the coming days –
• Regular email updates on reopening details as they are being determined – i.e., church
capacity, sign up procedures & attendance guidelines
• A return of Live Streaming of our Services – thank you to those who have made
donations towards new equipment and offered their time to help improve our stability and
• Enhancements to our Website – for easier access to reopening information
In closing, I’d like to offer words of guidance from our Metropolitan…”As we being to take the
steps to return to our churches in the days ahead, may each of us continue to draw upon those
qualities – of faith, patience, understanding, civility and even humor – that have carried us
through these difficult days, but most importantly our love for one another.”
My appreciation and gratitude to the many people in leadership roles in our parish who have
truly stepped up to the plate (listed below)! We are grateful for the offering of their time and
talent to help coordinate the life of our parish and ready our beloved St. Anthony Church for the
return of our parishioners.
Thank you for your patience and good will, and we look forward to seeing you soon!
With love in the Risen Christ,
Father Stephen & the Parish Readiness Team
Restoring Parish Life Update – The following was sent out via email on Thursday, May 14th
Dear Faithful of Saint Anthony:
The sacred mission of the Church is to bring people to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our
Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). It is by this means that we come to know our Lord
and to live our lives in pursuit of eternal life. It requires the commitment and conviction to live
the life in Christ as an individual and within the community.
By now I hope you have had a chance to read the message on RESTORING PARISH LIFE
from Metropolitan Gerasimos that was shared yesterday. It contains a great deal of
information about the reopening expectations and plan for the churches within our
Metropolis. We are actively working within the guidelines of this plan to prepare St.
Anthony for a return of our cherished parishioners.
JIM PHILLIPS has graciously agreed to take on the role of our READINESS LEAD. He is
working closely with me, our Parish Council and will form a team to help our church ready itself
for parishioner return under the guidelines of the Metropolis, as well as state and local
ANDREIA POP will be our parish HEALTH OFFICER. This role was suggested by the
Metropolis and holds the responsibility of monitoring our wellness practices and interfacing with
local Public Health Department as needed.
DIMI SAKELARIOS will step in as our COMMUNICATIONS LEAD. She will also work
closely with me, Jim and the Readiness Team to ensure all updates and details are shared with
our parish community in a clear, timely and easily accessible way.
I remind you of the thoughtful reflections shared by Metropolitan Gerasimos – While we are all
anxious to return to worship together, being vigilant for the safety and protection of all must be
of paramount importance. The guidelines he has provided are positive and proactive and are
ways of caring for each other — that is, ways of loving.
We do not yet have a set date for parishioner return, but rest assured this is our top
priority and will provide a date just as soon as it is known. We are also working to bring
back the online streaming of our services with improved quality. It is our commitment to keep
you informed with regular updates and sharing key details as they become available.
Many elements of our physical church participation will be different for the foreseeable
future. As the Metropolitan shared, our transition back to a fully opened parish will take time,
requiring patience and understanding. There may be challenges along the way, but we must
preserver with faith, knowing that “with God, all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26b).
I continue to pray for everyone to be safe from this virus and to guide our leaders as we work to
through the details of readying St. Anthony for the return of our parishioners.