Coronavirus (COVID-19) Response

St. John’s Reopening Plans

As part of the Diocese of Central New York, St. John’s Ithaca is following the diocese’s “Faithful Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Currently, the parish is in Step 2: Early Regathering.  This means we have submitted a Covenant for Gathering Anew to the bishop’s office for approval, and received permission to gather in small groups for services.    Information about our in-person services in the month of August can be found here:  Regathering St. John’s.

The Bishop has recently authorized Step 3: Expanded Regathering.   However, St. John’s will be ahering to the limits of Step 2 until the effect of the colleges’ reopening on our local infection rates becomes clearer.

While our focus for the near term will be to continue offering streaming services and online gatherings, St.John’s has been approved to have some small in-person worship services.  These will not replace live-streamed Sunday worship.

Documents Related to Regathering

Diocesan Guidelines for Gatherings

The full guidance on what those services will look like can be found in the Early Regathering link above.  For St. John’s this means that:

  • We are limited to 25 people for outdoor services(including clergy, readers, greeters and tech support), or a number of people who can be safely spaced 6 feet apart.
  • We are limited to 15 people for indoor services, and they must be safely spaced 6 feet apart.  Outdoor services will be preferred as long as possible.
  • We must maintain 6-foot distancing between household groups, and avoid physical contact. This means we will stay in place during the Peace and greet each other safely at a distance.
  • Everyone must wear a mask over their nose and mouth at all times, indoors or outdoors.
  • We won’t be singing or chanting.
  • Communion will be celebrated with bread only. Communicants will receive the Host and return to their place before removing masks to consume the Host.
  • We will not pass the offering plate.  We will leave it at the entrance, and offerings may also be made online.
  • We will remove hymnals and prayer books from the pews and include the whole service in the bulletin.  You are encouraged to download it yourself to a device.
  • In-person social gatherings following services, such as coffee hour or meals, are not allowed at this time.

Community Needs

While we are not able to meet in person, we continue to reach out to our community in love.  Opportunities to continue the good work of St. John’s include

Dignity Pantry Drive

The personal items pantry in Laundry Love has need of bar soaps, cleaning and disinfecting supplies. We want to be sure that our Loaves & Fishes guests have the means to keep themselves healthy during the current heath crisis. Bring donations to Loaves and Fishes when they are serving meals (see notice just below).

Loaves and Fishes Meals-To-Go

LUNCH: Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm
DINNER: Tuesday & Thursday from 5:30 pm – 6:30 pm
During these difficult times and in support of our mission to feed the hungry of Tompkins County, Loaves and Fishes staff and volunteers are committed to providing free meals for those in need regardless of their faith, beliefs, or circumstances. All are welcome!
Fresh meals will be packaged to go and served outside in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church, 210 N. Cayuga St. We continue to invite volunteers to register on our site and select shifts that meet their schedule. We have strict protocol in place to keep volunteers and staff safe.
During the coronavirus situation please email or call 607-272-5457 to sign up to volunteer.

Resources for Worship at Home

Faith@Home is a resource put together by Forward Movement and Forma. They send you an email every day with prayers, reflections, and activities designed for different age groups, and they have stepped up their work in this time.

Habits of Grace: Our Presiding Bishop is putting out weekly reflections during this time. They are here.


From our Diocese: Faithful Response To Covid-19 Coronavirus
(last update: March 17)

Office closing; Worship changes
March 14, 2020
Beloved St. John’s folk—as I wrote to you this week, and again yesterday, everything changes so fast these days.

In keeping with the closure of Ithaca Area Schools, our office has closed, effective immediately. I will be available to you through the pastoral care number on our website, and through email as usual. Please—if you have any concerns or needs at this time, don’t hesitate to reach out.

We will gather for worship tomorrow, Sunday March 15 , HOWEVER:
—we will hold Morning Prayer, not Eucharist, at both services
—I will ask all present to spread out to the recommended 6 feet of distance.
—If you are in a vulnerable category (above 60 years old, immuno-suppressed, chance of previous exposure, etc) I strongly encourage you to stay home, and worship with us via livestream.

Right now, the best way we can care for each other is by loving each other at a distance, and supporting each other in creative ways. If you, or someone you know, is in need of direct assistance right now, let me know.

As the days pass, I’m sure you’ll be hearing from me again. Please continue to keep one another in prayer, and all who suffer from this situation.

Mtr Megan+

I want to lay out clearly what our plan is in this time of fear and anxiety for dealing with the approach of the corona virus.
First of all, here’s what we are currently doing:
—Loaves and Fishes continues to disinfect the Parish Hall, Kitchen, and Bathrooms after each meal with bleach, as has been their custom. They have increased the number of hand sanitizers, and have begun a process of education for the guests about the renewed importance of hand washing.
—To this, they have added wiping down doorknobs and door handles, and I have asked Chuck to make disinfecting entry points part of his cleaning routine.
—We have begun to stock more bar soap and other hand washing supplies in our Dignity Pantry in the Laundry.
—As always, we welcome everyone, regardless of race, ethnicity or country of origin. To allow a virus to make us turn our backs on each other would be a grave mistake indeed.
—Thanks to the cooperation of Pam Talbott, I am now receiving regular updates from BOCES, which coordinates the emergency response for IASD. They are in contact with the state health department each day to track the progress of the pandemic.

Mtr Megan+

UPDATE March 11, 2020
After meeting with Christina, followed by a meeting with the wardens today, the following changes will be implemented:
—Loaves and Fishes will begin to serve all meals from the back door, to-go style. This transition will begin immediately, and be fully implemented no later than Monday, March 23.
—Laundry Love will be on hiatus until further notice. The Dignity Pantry will move upstairs: when guests request an item, a staff member will put the item in their to-go bag. We will continue to emphasize bar soap and other cleaning products, and will accept donations of these items.
—The Third Sunday Breakfast is on hiatus until further notice.
—Coffee hour is on hiatus, as is the availability of snacks or other food at church events.
—Following this Sunday, choir will be on hiatus for the next two weeks, after which, Karen and Mtr. Megan will reassess.
—Group meetings and activities, not including worship, like EFM, Wednesday night Lenten Series, Confirmation Class, Adult Education, etc, will need to begin to transition to an online format that works for their members. Talk to Mtr. Megan about ways in which to do this. This also will include sessions to familiarize parishioners with how to access FB Live, Youtube Live, Zoom, etc.
—All staff are entitled to paid leave for any time affected by the ongoing pandemic— whether they become ill themselves, must care for a sick family member, or have their activities cancelled as a safety measure.
—Sunday services, being the center of our common life, and vital to our ongoing mission and spiritual health, will continue as long as local authorities deem it at all safe. But parishioners are urged to use their best judgment about attendance in person. You always have the option to pray at home, either with your family or with the livestream of the 10:30 service.

I want to emphasize a few points: first, that the best thing we can do right now is what we usually do: wash our hands, keep calm and don’t panic. If you feel sick, stay home and rest. Check in on others who are struggling, and look out for each other. Part of how we love our neighbor right now is to take precautions that protect the weakest and most vulnerable among us.
Secondly, and perhaps most important: no matter what we are faced with, our greatest task is to follow Jesus. Pandemic or not, we will continue to offer service to God where we are, as we can. St. John’s has served this community and Jesus in this place for nearly 200 years, and we certainly aren’t going to stop now.