St. Stephen’s Re-Opening Plan

During these difficult times, as we face a global pandemic, St. Stephen’s and churches all over our country have had to close down their buildings and move all aspects of our religious life together into virtual formats. As we continue to live into this new reality, St. Stephen’s will be following the guidelines put out by the Episcopal Church in Connecticut for parishes during the re-opening phases. In addition, we will be taking a series of precautions that are particular to our community and space.

When we are ready to return to some form of in-person worship, an announcement will be made by our vestry and a letter will be sent out to the congregation with details. Finally, these plans are subject to change as the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic change.

Note: Parishioners and clergy over the age of 65, and/or individuals with health risk factors, should continue to stay home until the state health department and/or your doctor deems it safe to resume in-person gatherings.

Worship & Parish Life

  • Until a vaccine or treatment is available for COVID-19, St. Stephen’s will keep our 10am service as an online gathering for everyone who is unable to worship in person.
  • When we begin resuming in-person worship, it will be at 8am.
  • Masks will be required for all worshipers.
  • To maintain 6’ of distance between households, the sanctuary is limited to 35 people. If we begin to reach the 35-person capacity, we will start requiring pre-registration for worship services.
  • We will abstain from shaking hands at the passing of the peace, there will not be a reception line following worship, and we will encourage members not to linger in the entry hall after church.
  • There will be no congregational singing until it is deemed safe. Any music used for in-person worship will be instrumental.
  • We will take attendance for all in-person worship services to aid in contact tracing in the event of an exposure.
  • During worship, window fans will be placed in the chapel, blowing out, and windows will be opened in the sanctuary, to provide for adequate ventilation.
  • There will be no communion administered until such time as our bishops direct.
  • There will be no coffee hour after in-person worship for the time being.
  • Children and Youth Formation will be provided virtually.
  • The Parish Hall and Parish House will be closed during in-person worship services.
  • Following every in-person worship service, the sanctuary and common spaces will be cleaned according to the document, “Facilities Cleaning Guide.”

Facilities & Office

  • Hand sanitizing stations will be installed around building entries, all visitors are asked to sanitize your hands.
  • When our Communications Director is at his desk, a rope will be placed in the office to provide him sufficient physical distancing. If you need access to something inside the roped off area, please ask Evan for assistance.
  • If you use office equipment, please wipe it down with provided sanitizing wipes.
  • The bathroom in the Parish House is reserved as the staff bathroom for the time being.
  • Parishioners are encouraged to call ahead to the church office before dropping in. Where possible, phone or Zoom meetings are encouraged.
  • Space users will be allowed to begin meeting in the parish hall, provided they comply with physical distancing and follow the cleaning guidelines in the document, “Facilities Cleaning Guide”