St. John’s Episcopal Church, a summer chapel in Avon, will once again be opening its doors on June 28 for it’s 137th season.
St. John’s, located at 100 Woodland Ave., is Avon’s oldest church.
When the church opens its doors on June 28 it will be the second time they do so while the country was facing a pandemic. The church was open during the global pandemic of 1918.
Church representative Sarah Sibbald said Bishop William H. “Chip” Stokes of the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey gave permission to churches to open after they came up with a game plan to so safely.
Sibbald said they will follow specific guidelines which include putting ribbons up to close some pews to create social distancing and requiring masks be worn.
“Families can congregate together,” she said. “We are a small congregation.”
One of the changes is there will be no hymnals in the pews and the church will instead leave out bulletins for parishioners which will include readings and hymns for that service.
There will be seven visiting priests who will stay at the church’s cottage with their families for a summer getaway.
St. John’s, she said, decided they will have Morning Prayer services but will not yet hold Holy Communion services, even though the bishop approved them.
Sibbald said there will also be signage to guide people and greeters will welcome church goers.
She said parishioners welcome the opening of the church.
“They are happy to go to a live service,” she said. “We’re still here, especially at this time.”
Sibbald said, as per the bishop’s guidelines, the church will be collecting contact tracing information from those who attend services, so if someone tests positive those who attended that particular service will be notified.
Sibbald said she will be researching the history of the 1918 pandemic to see how the church responded at that time.