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About Us: COVID-19 Information

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble (Psalm 46.1)

Updated Food & Beverage Covid Protocols

January 6, 2022

Dear Epiphany family,

As we enter this new year, you all remain in my prayers as I give thanks for the gift of this life together and pray for our shared health and wholeness in the coming days. With the continued surge of Covid cases due to the Omicron variant, we are changing our practice of serving food and beverage on Sunday mornings at the time of fellowship following services. At this time, we will refrain from offering food and beverage at indoor parish events. This is only a temporary decision as we make our way through the height of this surge.

This means that our festive farewell reception for Craig Benner will not take place this coming Sunday as planned. Rather, we will be offering our prayers, thanksgivings, and gratitude to Craig and Darren during the 10:00 am liturgy, which will be livestreamed. After the service you are invited to greet Craig outside the tower doors in the forecourt area. While this is not ideal, we believe it is the best option. I hope that you will join me in giving thanks for Craig by joining this Sunday’s services, sending in a card to the parish offices that we will deliver to Craig and Darren’s new address, or by making a gift to the Music Fund in honor of Craig’s ministry. 

This Sunday, on the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord, we will baptize a little one, bid farewell to our beloved Craig, and renew our baptismal commitments in prayer and song. While these remain challenging days for many, we also stay rooted in the hope that is ours in Christ. I look forward to this year together and a time of renewal and rebuilding. And while we cannot control how this path unfolds before us, we can choose how we walk this journey together. I am grateful to call you a fellow companion on the way. Let us continue to hold on to one another, keeping each other in prayer, and staying rooted in the faith, hope, and love that God offers us.

In Christ,
Rev. Nick  

Practices and Protocols at Epiphany

December 7, 2021

Dear people of Epiphany,

With the approaching arrival of Christmas, I write to you regarding our practices and protocols for worship here at Parish of the Epiphany. We have all seen the rising numbers of COVID cases, as well as additional variants. By now, I am certain we are all aware of such trends, as well as sharing a continued fatigue and weariness regarding the pandemic. I want to also sound words of optimism and encouragement regarding vaccination—if you have not been vaccinated or received your booster, I hope you will seek this out for your health and the wellness of all.

Here at Epiphany, we will be continuing our practices of mask-wearing and social distancing during worship through the Christmas season. Beginning this Sunday, December 12, you will notice some changes in the worship space. First, offering plates will be situated at the back of the church and entrance to Hadley Hall. Within the sanctuary, you will see that the pews are marked off to show minimum social distancing. This is to help parishioners and ushers maintain safe spacing. We ask you to please follow these guidelines and the directives of the ushers for our continued safety and ability to worship and sing in person. We will continue to utilize additional seating in Hadley Hall on Sundays and improve the worship experience in seating areas not located in the sanctuary.

On Christmas Eve we will be having three services at 4pm, 7pm, and 10pm. Please note that incense will be present at the 10pm service. Due to our continued social distancing practices, there will be limited seating in the sanctuary. Seating will not be reserved and is on a first-come, first-seated basis. When the sanctuary seating is at capacity, additional seating will be utilized in Hadley Hall and the Upper Parish Hall where the service will be livestreamed. For those who are frustrated and disappointed by these realities for our Christmas Eve worship, I share in your feelings. While this is not what I had hoped for or even imagined a month ago, it is where we are for our Christmas Eve worship and our commitment to health and wholeness during this season. It is my prayer that in the new year we will see the possibility of revisiting these practices and protocols that remain in accordance with public health directives.

I pray that you are well. Even with the challenges that are before us, I am reminded of what we have come through together. Last year, I joined Epiphany in our all-virtual Christmas offerings. This year, while not ideal, I am certain that our in-person and livestreamed Christmas Eve services will make for a holy night, touched by the joy of our community, and the hope we have in Christ. For God is Emmanuel—God with us.

In Christ and with deep thanks for you,
Rev. Nick 

Updated Parish Guidelines 

Rev. Nick Myers with masked parishioners outside of Parish of the Epiphany in Winchester, MA

August 19, 2021

Dear people of Epiphany,

With the continued increase of COVID-19 caseload and testing positivity rates in Middlesex County and Massachusetts, the Bishop’s office has issued updated guidelines for parishes within the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts. Here at Parish of the Epiphany, we will continue to follow the directives of public health officials, adhering to guidelines rooted in emerging scientific data, and the guidelines of our Bishops.

Effective immediately, we will adhere to the following practices and guidelines at Parish of the Epiphany:

  • Masks are required for all individuals aged two years and above in all indoor spaces except where an individual is unable to wear a face-covering due to a medical condition or disability. This includes Sunday worship, as well as small group or committee gatherings that take place indoors. Masks are not required while outdoors.
  • Sunday fellowship after the services will only take place outdoors and will be weather dependent.
  • Social distancing will occur within the sanctuary, as every other pew will be roped off. At this point, we are not in need of limiting attendance and returning to a reservation system—but this is possible in the future depending upon future directives.

These renewed practices will help us continue to care for one another, especially those who have not or are not able to be vaccinated at this time. I know that I am not alone in the frustration, disappointment, exhaustion, and feelings of anger that accompany this continued and rising pandemic. We will continue to bind our hearts and minds together, offering ourselves in Christ’s love, adapting our ministry, parish life, and care for and with one another in the coming months. We do this work in hope that such love and community will help us return more quickly and more resolutely committed to our shared ministry, as well as the moral call of Christ "to love our neighbors as ourselves."

With the continued changes in this pandemic, we want you to know that both the staff and vestry leadership will seek to adapt to the challenges we face and remain committed to helping renew our relationships, ministry, and parish life. While much remains uncertain about the coming months, you can rest in the certainty of our commitment to one another and this parish, as well as the faithfulness of and the hope we have in God. Indeed, as the great hymn proclaims: All our hope on God is founded.

I pray for you daily and want you each to know that I am available, along with our pastoral care team, to offer any support, prayer, or care that you need at this time. In Christ, through all things, we are bound together—thanks be to God.

God’s peace to you,
Rev. Nick Myers

Mask-Wearing at Church 

July 29, 2021

As we see cases rise and new information concerning the Delta variant, Rev. Nick, with the support of the Wardens, has decided to wait to make any additional changes to our mask-wearing guidelines while at worship and on the church grounds. Please wear masks inside during worship services, unless for medical reasons this is not possible. Masks are optional when outside; during coffee hour, we ask that you replace your mask when not eating or drinking.

We hope that during the month of August we will have the time needed to make decisions informed by additional scientific and public health data concerning the spread of the Delta variant. We are well-situated as a parish to revisit our policies in the coming months as the vaccination rate is high and the transmission rate is low in Middlesex county. And we know that our youngest members remain unvaccinated and others immunocompromised, which is a concern for us as a community committed to caring for one another.

If you have any concerns or questions, please do not hesitate to contact Rev. Nick or our wardens, Suzanne Owayda and Dave McSweeney. Thank you for your continued patience and cooperation as we navigate this time of transition.

Updated Protocols

June 12, 2021

Dear Beloved Community,

We write to you as we continue to take steps forward in our reopening plan at Parish of the Epiphany. Following public health directives for Houses of Worship in Massachusetts, as well as the guidelines of our Diocesan office, we share the following updates to our practices and protocols here at Epiphany:

Sunday Worship 

  • Beginning June 20th, we will increase seating to every other pew—allowing for 90 attendees at each Sunday service.
  • Registration for services is required through June.
  • Registration for services will no longer be required as of Sunday, July 4. 

Mask Wearing

  • Masks must continue to be worn inside during worship services.
  • Masks are not required when outside.

Fellowship and Gatherings

Fellowship in the Cloister Garden will continue during the summer. Hadley Hall will be used for fellowship during inclement weather; all windows and doors opened for air ventilation. Masks may be removed while consuming food and beverage.

Small Groups and Committees are able to return to in-person gathering at the church if they wish. Please contact the parish offices to request space and approval. We encourage groups to still offer a virtual option for those who are unable to attend in-person.

We have approved outside groups to utilize parish facilities, such as AA, Rotary, and other community partnerships.

We remain deeply grateful for your faithfulness and generosity to our shared ministry and mission. It is through your commitment that we are able to more fully regather and offer our space to the larger community. While the summer is typically a time of slowing down and rejuvenation—and we hope it can be for many this year—it is also true that the staff and leadership of the parish are working diligently together to prepare for a full return to our common life in the Fall. We covet your prayers and support—in time, talent, and financial support—as we work to renew our relationships and responds to God’s call in our common life.

As always, we are available for conversation about any questions or concerns you might have during this time. We are here for you and one another. You are an incredible gift and blessing.

Yours in Christ,
Nick Myers, Rector
Suzanne Owayda, Warden
Dave McSweeney, Warden

An Update on Sunday Worship at Epiphany

May 28, 2021

Dear Epiphany family,

We are very much looking forward to this coming Sunday’s first offering of in-person, indoor worship in our church sanctuary. As state-wide and national guidance changes in regard to Covid, so there will be changes in how we gather here at Epiphany. It is important to know that we follow our parish’s regathering plan that is shaped by the state guidelines for Places of Worship, as well as the directives from our Bishop’s office. You can read those guidelines here and hereIn our diocesan guidelines from May 20th, you’ll notice that we are able to return to in-person gatherings, small groups, fellowship, and renew our community partnerships within our buildings following particular guidelines. Many of these guidelines still require social distancing and mask-wearing. We will continue to follow these shared diocesan guidelines.

I am excited to share with you two changes to our Sunday worship plans due to our new guidelines.

First, we will have congregational singing for our worship services. Everyone is still required to wear masks while in worship; however, we are also able to sing together, and this will be a grand gift.

Second, we will have outdoor coffee hour and fellowship after each service on Sunday morning (weather permitting). We hope that you will join us in the Cloister Garden following each service for a time of fellowship and connection.

Let me close with two final words: I know that not all of us are ready or comfortable with regathering in person, either indoors or outdoors. Please know that this is okay—we are all trying to discern what is best for us and a way forward that is rooted in care, love, and support. When you are ready is the perfect time to return, and you do and will have a place here. Finally, while vaccination is an incredible gift and way forward for nearly everyone, it is not always an option for some. Certainly, right now, our youngest are unable to be vaccinated. So, let us be mindful that we are an intergenerational and diverse community of people. Not everyone is in the same place or stage of this process of reopening and regathering. We must support one another in our decisions and practices to care for and love one another and ourselves.

I look forward to greeting you on Sunday—in person or online. I look forward to sharing this life together as a parish as we navigate this hopeful and unusual time. Church is both weird and wonderful all at once these days—and I’m grateful God has called us together to walk this journey as one.

God’s peace to you,

May 30th Regathering

May 7, 2021

Dear Beloved Community,

On behalf of the leadership, staff, and the many people who have worked to make it possible for us to regather for in person worship in our sanctuary—we want to say: Welcome Home.

We will begin in person worship in our sanctuary on Sunday, May 30th. Each Sunday we will offer two, identical services at 8am and 10am. Both services will have music and the distribution of communion in the form of consecrated bread.

Our Sunday worship will follow our typical Eucharistic liturgy but will be abbreviated to emphasize congregational participation and allow time for preparation for successive services. At this time, we will have no congregational singing; instead, designated cantors will lead our musical praise.

Registration is required for anyone who wishes to attend Sunday in person worship in order to reserve seating. Registration will open each week on Monday at 12pm (noon) for the following Sunday. Registration remains open from 12pm on Monday through Wednesday. You can reserve your seating by registering at our parish website, or by calling the parish office at the time registration opens. A waitlist will begin once the maximum capacity is reached.

As we return to in-person worship we will have a maximum limit of 50 attendees per service. This does not include those people who have a role in the service. Liturgical ministers and those serving in worship will have designated reserved seating.

At the time of registration, you will be asked to confirm both a health statement, as well as agree to our shared guidelines for indoor worship. It is important to know that everyone 2 years of age and older is required to wear a mask while on church grounds, except those with medical waivers. Those with speaking parts during the liturgy will remove their masks while at the lectern, leading worship, or preaching. In addition, everyone is asked to maintain social distance between households while on the church grounds.

Upon arrival to the church there will be one point of entrance into the sanctuary through the Church Street doors. When on campus, masks and social distancing are required, including during services. Signage will direct you to the entrance where you will be greeted and checked-in by an usher and greeter team. Only registered attendees may enter the sanctuary.

After being checked-in at the entrance, you will be led to your pre-assigned seating location. During the service you will be directed by ushers both to come forward for Communion as well as to leave your seating at the end of the service. Restrooms will be accessible only for emergency use.

In the coming weeks we will be sharing more information about our regathering on Sunday, May 30th. We hope that you’ll stay connected with these updates through our parish newsletter and website.

Over a year ago our lives began a process of change due to the novel coronavirus pandemic that has been marked by deep and tragic loss, as well as invitation and possibility. We are hopeful for the days that are ahead of us, not simply because of the incredible capacity of medicine and science, but also the strength and resilience of the human spirit and God’s steadfast presence in our lives.

There is a journey still ahead of us. Indeed, there are challenges and opportunities that we cannot yet see or know. We ask your prayers and support as we journey together into a future that is already held in God’s embrace.

We look forward to regathering, to rebuilding our relationships, and rejoicing in this homecoming. Please mark your calendars as reservations for our May 30th services will open on Monday, May 24th at noon.

God’s peace to you in Christ,
Rev. Nick Myers, Rector
Suzanne Owayda, Warden
Dave McSweeney, Warden

Regathering Report: Executive Summary & Committee Recommendations

November 10, 2020

The Journey by Stages Advisory Committee began its work in June of 2020, using the charge from the vestry and the Journey by Stages guidance from the Diocese of Massachusetts. The committee undertook the work with a goal of striving to provide a plan for the safest environment possible with those guidelines, while understanding that it is impossible to mitigate all risk. Jane Hamel provides support as our diocesan regathering shepherd.

The questionnaire was our first effort and we were pleased when 178 parishioners responded. Summary pages for each question are found in the appendices and a link is provided to the full data set. Lauren Michalski worked on the questionnaire and Jane White took on the task of developing the charts and data set.

In the process of our work, we consulted with people involved in regathering efforts at Church of the Advent, Boston; All Saints, Brookline; Church of the Redeemer, Chestnut Hill; Christ Church, Andover; and All Saints, Chelmsford. Andrew Street connected us to the engineering firm that developed a plan for the ventilation system.

We have thought through and discussed many details involved in preparing for a possible regathering, most of them defined by the diocesan checklist. It is also clear to us that these are plans and with implementation, they will no doubt need to be amended and changed while retaining all required elements. The reservation system, in particular, is complex at the same time that we expect we’ve also missed things. The ability of the Reservation Coordinator to oversee the system and keep track of what is and isn’t working is very important to its success.

Plans developed by the committee cover the following areas:

1. Safety

This section of the document details procedures for preparation of the church before the first service, a structure for the use of bathrooms during and after services, disinfecting protocols, and the procedures for ushers, greeters, and parishioners on Sunday morning. A document to be used in training ushers is also included as an appendix. There are pastoral concerns to be considered for those who serve as ushers, as the diocese recommends that those 65+ consider not attending in-person worship, meaning that younger ushers will need to be recruited and trained. This will require time and care. Church will not really feel like church used to, making it important to communicate this new reality while also doing our best to make all who come feel welcome. Gloria Korta and Ginger Barrow gave particular attention to the work on the safety protocol.

Ventilation has come to be seen as a very important part of creating as safe an environment as possible. Epiphany is in the very fortunate position to already have a fan in the basement and the engineering firm was able to create the specifications for how to add components to what exists that will support making the air cleaner and therefore safer.

2. Reservation System

In some ways, defining how the reservation system would work became the most complex and detailed discussion we had. Planning for moving the current live streaming equipment out of the center aisle to a permanent home, increases the number of parishioners who can attend on Sunday, but we will be far from a full church, and the questionnaire data showed at the time it was submitted that not all who responded would be comfortable attending until a vaccine is widely available.

The committee worked hard to come up with operating principles that provide fair and easy access, working within the limitations defined by the state and diocese. While the system is not yet fully operable, the committee was able to ‘test drive’ a sample and modifications are underway. Jared Cumming and Jason Kinchen worked on the reservation system.

3. Live streaming capacity and longevity

The survey indicated that parishioners would continue to access the live streaming that has served to keep us connected for the last months. Live streaming appears to be here permanently and we want to do it well. To that end, the first priority is to move the equipment currently in the center aisle, for safety and capacity issues, but also to upgrade what exists toward a permanent setup that will serve Epiphany well for the future. Jason Kinchen worked on this aspect of the plan.

Committee Recommendations

In completing its work, the committee recommends that the following items are of particular importance, if the vestry and clergy vote to reopen for Sunday worship:

1. As many as four Sundays should be used as an opportunity for a trial run with a smaller number of attendees, allowing for changes to be implemented prior to the maximum amount of seating, which still allows only limited numbers of attendees.

2. The assumption should be made that the safety and reservation system protocols might need modification after the trial period.

3. Consideration should be given to the pastoral and practical issues around the re-envisioned roles of greeter and usher described in the report, as the diocese strongly recommends that those 65+ not attend in-person worship services. Recruiting, training, and scheduling for these roles will require a significant amount of time. It is assumed that four ushers and two greeters will be required for each service. The committee supports the idea of recruiting youth to help fill these roles, with a youth and an adult serving as a pair.

4. A clear communications plan must be developed and thoroughly implemented to inform parishioners of all the components of reopening, including the suggested age limitation, the reservation system, and all safety protocols required while attending. This will support a smooth process and compliance with regathering requirements for parishioners.

5. The reservation system will require weekly management as reservations are confirmed, seats are assigned, and unforeseen changes occur, requiring a significant amount of time. This may require hiring a part-time person to consistently complete the tasks.

6. Disinfecting the church must be done every week, requiring a significant amount of time. Because the committee has identified a non-toxic disinfectant, it is not necessary to hire a specialized vendor to do this task. Bathrooms must also be disinfected, and the committee has identified appropriate products for use on Sunday mornings and for cleaning during the week.

7. The committee recommends that a cleaning company be engaged to clean and polish all wooden pews in the church with a Guardsman product that provides surface protection. The committee invested considerable energy in trying to determine how to disinfect the church without damaging the fragile surfaces on the aged wood of the pews. Using the Guardsman product initially and then periodically as needed, supports this goal. The plant-based disinfectant can then be sprayed on all high touch surfaces and left to dry.

8. Modifications to the ventilation system, as recommended in the engineering report, must be implemented to support creating the safest environment possible, particularly because airborne virus is currently thought to be a much more significant source of infection than surface contact.

9. Modifications to the current live streaming equipment should be made to create a structure for streaming services now and post-pandemic, clear the center aisle is equipment, adding additional units of seating for parishioners, improve the quality of live streaming for those who cannot attend, and create a safer environment for the volunteers operating the equipment and for parishioners.

10. Consideration should be given to hiring a security person for at least the first four weeks of regathering, when seating is most limited, and it is unknown how parishioners and others might react to the extraordinary circumstances of worship. Several options for financial consideration are included on the budget page.

11. Consideration should be given to both pastoral and practical issues when deciding whether the reservation system is available to the public or is only accessible to parishioners.

Parishioners can read the complete report here.

Update – Regathering Advisory Committee

September 21, 2020

Come up with a plan – that’s the quick way to describe the ongoing work of the parish Regathering Advisory Committee. And, that’s what we have been working on with almost weekly meetings since our first meeting in June. We are very clear that we are not the decision makers about opening, instead our job is to provide a plan that addresses the areas defined by the vestry and the diocese. Early on, we broke into subgroups to make the best use of the skills of committee members while we plan for:

  • The parish questionnaire: the questionnaire was completed by 178 people and shows that, for example, while many will come when requirements are met, others will wait until a vaccine is available, and still others won’t come back until requirements are met and a vaccine is available. The questionnaire yielded detailed data that is meant to support the vestry and clergy decision about opening.
  • Safety on Sunday morning: including disinfecting, social distancing, mask usage, entry and exit plans for parishioners, usher and greeter roles, and ventilation.
  • A reservation system: finding a system that will make it easy for parishioners to reserve space for Sunday and give the parish the information required for contact tracing. This supports the requirement for social distancing, which means seating will be limited.
  • Live streaming: determining what is needed and how to install the equipment needed to continue live streaming of services, not just now, but into the future in a way that works with people in the nave.

We quickly discovered we are dealing with many, many details. We dove in and discovered, for instance, that the EPA approved disinfectant list has hundreds of products. Couple that with Epiphany’s very antique pews and then try to figure out how to accomplish the necessary disinfection without destroying the beautiful wood and do it with a product that is also non-toxic? We think we’ve got that one solved. Or, plan for how parishioners can make use of the bathrooms during and after the service. Easy you say? Once you plan the traffic pattern, how to mark it, and what the instructions will say on the wall outside the bathroom, we moved on to finding a quick kill disinfectant (back to that EPA list) to be used by parishioners inside the bathroom. Additional modifications in the bathrooms themselves will help to make them as safe as possible.

Our charge from the vestry is combined with the requirements from the diocese that must be completed before the diocese will sign off on our opening, should the vestry and clergy vote to do so. Hopefully, the advisory committee’s plan will provide much of the critical information that is needed to make this decision.

It is a daunting task, especially when we consider that our first priority is doing as much as we can to keep us all safe from Covid 19. We look forward to completing this work and turning it over to the vestry and clergy for their consideration.

Mary Street, chair; Ginger Barrow, Jared Cumming, Jason Kinchen, Gloria Korta, Lauren Michalski

Journey by Stages Advisory Committee Formed and Getting Started

June 29, 2020

The Journey By Stages Advisory Committee had its first meeting on Monday, 15 June, and they have begun the work outlined in the Vestry's charge to the committee. The members of the committee are

Mary Street, Chair
Ginger Barrow
Jared Cumming
Jason Kinchen
Gloria Korta
Lauren Michalski

In addition to their strong faith and commitment to our parish, this group's professional gifts include deep medical, scientific, technology and public sector experience. Please be sure to thank them for the very important work they are undertaking to help us determine how we can open for in-person worship.

A Letter from Your Wardens and Interim Rector

June 1, 2020

Dear Epiphany Parishioners,

Yesterday – the Feast of Pentecost – we celebrated the gift of the Holy Spirit, promised to us by Jesus. Jesus refers to the Spirit as an “advocate,” sometimes translated as “comforter” or “helper.” It is a great blessing to have the Spirit’s help and comfort and guidance as we journey together through this difficult season of pandemic.

What follows is an important and full letter. We hope you will take the time to read, reflect, and pray with us. There are three key points we want to communicate up front, in case you can’t read the entire letter now:

1. We will love our neighbors by keeping our building closed for now
2. An advisory committee has been formed to determine how we can reopen our building
3. Our parish remains strong and faithful

There has been much for all of us to absorb recently. On May 12, Bishop Gates and Bishop Harris extended the restrictions on in-person public worship and gatherings in our churches until July 1. On May 18, Governor Baker released plans for a phased reopening of the state that included safety standards for houses of worship, and our bishops released that day their guidelines for a phased reopening of our churches, called A Journey by Stages. It is important to keep in mind that though the state and diocesan plans permit churches to reopen their buildings, they do not require any church to reopen its building.

We will love our neighbors by keeping our building closed for now

After careful review of these plans and consultation with the Vestry, we believe that reopening the church building in the near future would put the health of our parishioners and staff at unnecessary risk, and this risk far outweighs the potential benefits. We believe our best option is for our building to remain closed and to focus on enhancing our online worship and faith formation, while we monitor the local public health indicators of the progression of this pandemic. Staff members may continue to work in the building as necessary, but we may not gather in the building for worship, meetings, or other activities (with the exception of livestreaming and recording worship). To use the language of the bishops’ guidelines, we will remain in Stage One of the diocese’s reopening plan for the time being. We do not have a timeframe for when it will be safe to gather again in the church building. Other churches are also taking a cautious approach, and indeed, our bishops have advised parishes not to rush to reopen their buildings.

We know that this will be disappointing! We all long to return to worship in our beautiful sanctuary, and to gather in the building for meetings and activities and events. The psalmist expresses our yearning well: “How dear to me is your dwelling, O Lord of hosts! My soul has a desire and longing for the courts of the Lord.” (Psalm 84.1). And yet, because Covid-19 continues to spread in our communities, and because there is not yet adequate testing and contact tracing in our state, there are risks to all of us in too quickly regathering in the church building, even with precautions. We believe this decision is the best way to safeguard the health of our parishioners and staff, as well as the health of our neighbors. Bishop Harris wrote in her May 29 pastoral reflection, “As St. Paul wrote, we must bear each other’s burdens, and care for the welfare of others, even over our own longings, desires and sense of freedom.” This is what loving our neighbor looks like right now.

An advisory committee has been formed to determine how we can reopen our building

In A Journey by Stages, our bishops encourage parishes to “consider appointing an advisory group to think through the limitations of each stage as it relates to your congregation, your buildings, and your capacity to create a safe environment.” And so, at a special meeting on May 27, our Vestry approved the creation of a Journey by Stages Advisory Committee to evaluate the logistical, financial, and pastoral implications of entering into Stage Two of the diocesan phased reopening plan. You can read the Vestry’s charge to the committee here. The committee is being recruited, and we are pleased that Mary Street has agreed to chair it. We want to emphasize that the completion of the committee’s work will not automatically signal that it is safe for us to regather in the building; the reopening of the building will depend instead on public health indicators and state and diocesan mandates and guidance.

The state and diocesan requirements for reopening church buildings present formidable logistical and pastoral challenges; our bishops describe them as “daunting.” In order for a parish to move to Stage Two in the diocesan reopening plan – in other words, in order to reopen a church building for worship – the following restrictions must be adhered to:

  • parishioners would have to sign up in advance to attend a service, with higher-risk persons (those over 65 and those with underlying health conditions) urged to stay home;
  • the number of attendees would be limited and closely monitored to ensure that the gathering does not exceed mandated capacity (40% of occupancy);
  • everyone – including the celebrant, preacher, and section leaders – would have to wear a mask during the service and when entering and exiting the church;
  • parishioners would have to sit at least 6 feet apart and maintain physical distancing when in the church and when entering and exiting the church;
  • no congregational singing is permitted;
  • no distribution of Communion is permitted;
  • no fellowship or gathering before or after the service is permitted;
  • strict cleaning and hygiene protocols must be followed.

As you can see, these restrictions are formidable, yet necessary given the continued spread of Covid-19. Some have wondered about the possibility of gathering outdoors for worship, but our diocesan leadership has made clear that this entails the same logistical and pastoral challenges as worship indoors, as well as health risks. As our bishops note, “the many limitations on gathering in Stage Two may be difficult for some congregations.”

Our parish remains strong and faithful

As we wait for the time when we can safely gather again, Epiphany remains a resilient and faithful community, for which we give great thanks! Though the building is closed, the worship and ministry of Epiphany carries on in fruitful ways:

  • we continue to offer livestreamed worship with music from the sanctuary on Sunday mornings, pre-recorded Morning Prayer on Wednesday mornings, and Compline over Zoom on Thursday evenings;
  • parishioners gather via zoom for Bible study before the Sunday service and for an online coffee hour or adult forum after the service;
  • parish committees are meeting online to continue their ministry;
  • there are creative opportunities each week for children and families to nurture their faith;
  • our youth groups are gathering online, helping our middle- and high-school students stay connected;
  • a Sustainability and Creation Care initiative has taken root – there is more information on the website;
  • our outreach to those in need continues; indeed, our support of the feeding ministry at San Lucas in Chelsea was highlighted in a recent Episcopal News Service article;
  • our pastoral visitors and clergy are reaching out by phone to offer pastoral care and support to parishioners;
  • and because parishioners have been faithful in pledging, our finances remain strong.

We are grateful to each of you for your prayers, your patience, and your faithfulness to Epiphany. We will continue to keep you informed as we walk this path together. We take to heart our bishops’ counsel from their reopening plan: “In every situation we must be guided not just by what is permissible, but by what will best safeguard the well-being of all God’s people.” That is our touchstone. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you have questions.

Together in Christ,
Suzanne Owayda and Dave McSweeney, Wardens
Sarah Conner, Interim Rector

Journey by Stages Charge from the Vestry
June 1, 2020    Click here

A Journey By Stages - Reopening our Churches

May 18, 2020

Bishop Alan M. Gates and Bishop Gayle E. Harris of the Diocese of Massachusetts said that their restriction on in-person public worship and gatherings is extended until July 1. 

Anticipating that eventual and phased resumption of in-person public worship and church activities will be complicated and require careful preparation, the three bishops of the two Massachusetts Episcopal dioceses have jointly issued a detailed set of guidelines—
A Journey By Stages—and they are urging congregational leaders to start discussing now what safe regathering will entail in their local contexts.

A Message from Your Clergy: Prayer, Care, and Online Church

March 20, 2020

Dear friends at Epiphany,

Though our church building is closed, Parish of the Epiphany remains a vibrant community of prayer and care.  We have not stopped being the church!  In fact, in some mysterious way, we are more truly and deeply the church of Jesus Christ in this uncertain time.  In this letter, we want to share with you some ways we are continuing to pray and to care for each other, as well as some practical information for participating in virtual church.


As of today, we are planning on offering virtual church every Sunday and Wednesday for as long as we can (see more below).  On Sundays at 10:00 a.m., you can go to our website and link to a service of Morning Prayer with music, and on Wednesdays at 7:30 a.m., you can link to a service of Morning Prayer.  We have also started planning for how we might offer virtual Holy Week services.  Bear in mind that, as with so much in our lives right now, our plans may evolve with any new guidance or mandates from local public health officials and our diocesan leaders.  We will keep you posted!  

And each of us at Epiphany is praying at home, offering to God our hopes and fears, interceding for those who are sick and in need, resting in God’s loving presence.  Whether you’re finding strength and comfort in old familiar prayers or exploring new ways to pray, know that God longs for our prayers and listens with love to each one.  Every prayer bears fruit in God’s time.


Our Epiphany Visitors, Eucharistic Visitors, and Stephen Ministers have been faithfully reaching out by phone to those parishioners they regularly visit, and other parishioners have been making phone calls as well.  We encourage you to keep reaching out!  A phone call can make such a difference to someone who is feeling isolated.  It’s a tangible and beautiful way of sharing God’s love with each other. 

We are also restarting our Parish Fellowship Groups.  The names in our parish directory have been divided among Vestry members, and someone from the Vestry will reach out to you soon by email.  This is another way to check in, to get a sense of spiritual and practical needs, and to enable people to offer help as they can.

Virtual Church

We have added links to our website to access our virtual church offerings, which will be hosted on our YouTube channel.  Accompanying bulletins for services will be accessible from our Worship->Schedule and Bulletins page. Be sure to tune in at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday for this week’s offering.

Also, this Sunday at 11:00 a.m., we will host a virtual coffee hour via Zoom videoconferencing.  Please join us by clicking on this link at 11:00 a.m. 

If you haven’t participated in a Zoom call before, you can prepare for our virtual coffee hour by following this link:  You’ll be prompted to download the Zoom application to your device.

Finally, remember that “nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8.39).  As always, we hold you in loving prayer and are so very grateful for each of you at Epiphany.

Faithfully in Christ,
Miriam and Sarah

Important Information About Church Closure  

March 12, 2020

Dear friends at Epiphany,

We want you to know that given the continued spread of COVID-19 through our communities, we have decided to close the church building through March 31.  This means that we will not be gathering at the church for worship services, church meetings and classes, or events during this time.  Staff members may work from home or may be in the building to work. 

We encourage you to read this letter from Bishop Gates, sent today, in which he offers his support for those churches that decide to close.  Though this decision is clearly necessary, we know that it will be difficult not to be with each other on Sundays and at other times.  It will help us all if we remember that the church is not a building; it is the body of Christ.  Whether we pray together in person or pray together apart, we are the body of Christ.  And this is Christ’s work for us right now, to love our neighbors by doing what we can to slow the spread of this virus. 

In the days ahead, we will reach out to you with resources for prayer and worship during this time.  And of course, it’s essential that we each continue our own spiritual practices, to care for our souls as well as our bodies.

There is a strong network of pastoral visiting at Epiphany.  Though in-person visits at most healthcare facilities are being discouraged or even prohibited at this time, we encourage our Epiphany Visitors, Eucharistic Visitors, and Stephen Ministers to offer pastoral care and support by phone to those they would regularly visit.  Your clergy are available, as always, in a pastoral emergency.

We will continue to closely monitor this situation and will update you as necessary.  For now, let us all:

  • pray for those who are ill with COVID-19, for their caregivers, and for healthcare workers and public health workers, who are doing their utmost in this pandemic;
  • stay connected with each other by checking in regularly, and reach out to those who are isolated or vulnerable;

  • take good care of ourselves and continue to take the precautions that are necessary at this time;

  • remember that “nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8.39).

Faithfully in Christ,
Suzanne Owayda and Dave McSweeney, Wardens
Sarah A. Conner, Interim Rector

Important Information From Your Wardens and Interim Rector

March 11, 2020

Dear friends at Epiphany,

Today our bishops issued a letter along with a new set of mandated protocols and additional recommended practices. These materials were emailed to you earlier today. Click here to read the Bishop's directive.

We urge you to read and follow these important protocols. You’ll note some significant changes for when we gather for worship: Communion is to be distributed in the form of consecrated bread only; offering plates will be at the back of the church rather than passed among the congregation; and at the Peace and when greeting at the door, people should greet each other without physical touch of any kind.

We want you to know that your wardens, clergy, and Jason Kinchen (who is a Red Cross disaster chaplain) met this past Sunday, March 8, to discuss how we can be prepared as a parish to respond to this situation. We covered every area of parish life and have been following up with staff and ministry leaders this week. Though there is much information to consider and convey, we want to remind you of some basic ways we can help care for each other:

  • Wash hands frequently, for 20 seconds, with soap and warm water
  • Practice good self care – get enough sleep, exercise, eat healthy food, drink plenty of water
  • Our bishops strongly recommend that if anyone in a household is unwell, everyone in the household should remain at home
  • Check on and support those who are vulnerable or isolated
  • Pray for those who are ill, for caregivers, and for healthcare and public health workers

We will continue to email updates and important information – please read them! These updates will also be available on our Facebook page and a Coronavirus updates page on our website.

Please reach out to us with any questions or concerns. Be assured that we will continue to closely monitor this situation and adhere to guidance and mandates from our diocese and local public health officials. Above all, remember that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46.1) and that “nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8.39).

Faithfully in Christ,
Suzanne Owayda and Dave McSweeney, Wardens
Sarah A. Conner, Interim Rector

Location & Contact

70 Church Street
Winchester, MA 01890
Phone: 781.729.1922


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