Pastoral Guidelines for Coming Back to Church

Sisters and Brothers in the Lord:

We pray that this wonderful news reaches you in good spirits and in good health.  We are overjoyed to announce that finally, with the blessing of His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros and following the laws and regulations set forth by the State of the New York, we will open our Church Doors for Divine Liturgy on the Sunday of All Saints, June 14.  We have missed each and every one of you, and, especially during these troubling times, we all need to  see one another’s faces, join our voices praising the Lord, and to be in the presence of our Church Family, gathered together as sons and daughters of the Most High and Loving God, brothers and sisters in Christ.

In order to make your return to Church safe, we have reached out to George Voutsinas, the owner of Universal Biohazard Prevention and Response, who will donate all of his services to thoroughly clean and sanitize our entire Church Complex, utilizing the same sanitizers and procedures employed for Governor Cuomo and the United States military facilities.  We have also developed new protocols and trained our ushers and volunteers to guide you through these protocols as we welcome you home.

The following is a guide to returning back to Church.  It details our new policies and procedures.  Please take the time to read it carefully, and don’t hesitate to reach out should you have any questions or want to discuss it in person.  It is critically important that each and every one of us do our best to respect and abide by these guidelines and follow the directions of the ushers.  The guidelines have been developed carefully for your/our protection and to ensure that our Church is in compliance with the mandates and recommendations of the State. 

Stepping in to our new normal is a cause for great joy, and seeing our Church Family reunited after months will be like a breath of fresh air.  It will require patience, cooperation, and optimism.  While certain aspects will be different than what we are used to, what is essential, sharing the love of God with one another, will remain today and always.   We look forward to praying with you and welcoming you back to your/our spiritual home.

Faithfully yours.

Father Alexander Karoutsos, Protopresbyter
Father Constantine Lazarakis, Presbyter
Mrs. Adrean Northridge, Parish Council President

Reservations

Occupancy of the Church is limited by law. Making reservations is strongly recommended for the faithful to attend Divine Liturgy.

Reservations will be on a first come first serve basis and must be made on-line. To reserve your seat/s, click below. (if you or someone you know does not have access to a computer or is unable to make a reservation online, you can call the Church office at 631 283 6169, for assistance.)

For your protection, our Church is following government laws & recommended protocols

Occupancy in the Church is limited by law 

We are practicing social distancing 

Protective masks are required by law; protective gloves are optional 

Sanitizers are available 

Please follow the directions of the ushers at all times

Vulnerable Individuals
Who May Consider Remaining Home

Particularly vulnerable individuals (elderly; individuals with underlying health conditions, etc.)

INDIVIDUALS WHO CANNOT COME BACK TO CHURCH PRESENTLY

  • Anyone who presently has COVID-19 and has not recovered, or presents symptoms, or has tested positive for the virus 
  • Anyone who lives with, or cares for, someone who is currently sick, has not yet recovered, presents symptoms, or has tested positive
  • In all of the above referenced circumstances, Father Alex and Father Constantine will find safe ways to offer pastoral care, or seek to provide opportunities for the faithful to visit our Church

FAMILY CHURCH ATTENDANCE

Children, seventeen years and younger, must remain with their parents at all times.


Entering Our Church

Temperature Checks
Although it is hoped that parishioners waiting to enter our Church have self-monitored themselves and their families, and believe they are free of the COVID-19 virus, as a reasonable precaution, in addition to observing for typical symptoms such as difficulty in breathing, cough, apparent confusion, etc., each parishioner will be checked for a high fever (100.4 degrees F (38 C) or higher) before entering the Church.

Because of the current public health emergency, the FDA has approved guidance for easy-to-use telethermographic devices (allowed for use by non-medical persons) for taking a person’s temperature.

A Church staff member will be using a non-invasive thermometer held over the individual’s forehead to check temperature.


Entering the Narthex

All ushers serving in the Narthex will be equipped with protective facemasks and gloves

Standard candles to be lit by parishioners will be handed to the parishioner by the ushers

Votives requested by parishioners will be brought into the Nave and lighted by the ushers

Icons and the Gospel are to be venerated without making any physical contact

Crying/waiting rooms will be secured and opened only upon request for special needs parishioners

Sanitizers will be available

Doors into the Nave will remain open and be designated as entrance or exit and enforced by the ushers

Ushers and cleaning personnel will immediately sanitize any icon, gospel, door handle or surface touched by a parishioner

If it is learned that someone is sick, shows symptoms, or lives or cares for someone who is sick comes to Church, they should be asked to leave. It will be necessary to sanitize the areas they occupied as soon as they are asked to depart, and clergy, ushers or parishioners who were present near the individual will be asked to self-quarantine for a minimum of 14 days before returning to Church


Entering the Nave

If clergy, altar servers or their families are sick in any way, those individuals will not participate in services

All ushers serving in the Nave will be equipped with protective facemasks and gloves

Everyone except clergy, cantors, and choir members, but including altar boys, must wear facemasks in accordance with government laws and recommended protocols

Ushers will be positioned just inside the entrance and exit doors, and direct parishioners to use the single direction aisles leading to their seats

Social distancing seating, pre-marked on the pews will be enforced by the ushers


Holy Communion and Andiron

In order to maximize the effectiveness of the protocols and procedures outlined this far, the priest will offer his sermon and make any additional remarks to the congregation before offering Holy Communion. Thus, immediately after receiving Holy Communion, communicants can, if they would like, depart from the Church thereby avoiding the need to return to their seats. And, anyone sitting with a communicant and not receiving Communion, may simply follow the communicant and go directly to the Antidoron basket, taking a piece of the blessed bread and depart. Communicants wishing to stay until the conclusion of The Divine Liturgy, may return to their pews. Parishioners who did not receive Communion can receive Antidoron immediately after the Divine Liturgy is finished.

When the clergy are prepared to offer Holy Communion, ushers should direct parishioners row by row, enforcing social distancing, directing parishioners to follow single direction aisles to the Solea.

Holy Communion will be administered as follows:

  • Tissue napkins will be available for individual use
  • Holy Communion will be administered using individual, sterilized and sanitized Communion spoons
  • After receiving Communion, the communicant places the napkin in the sacred receptacle on the solea and takes the individually packed piece of Antidoron.
  • Upon completion of the Divine Liturgy, the used Communion spoons will be washed, boiled and sanitized.

Pieces of Antidoron will be wrapped separately in small white paper bags and taken by the parishioners as they depart


Departing the Church after Holy Communion

Collection baskets will be placed on a table so parishioners can contribute as they leave our Church

For parishioners who have not received Antidoron after receiving Holy Communion, it will be offered to them as they depart our Church after the Divine Liturgy.


Rest Rooms

Social distancing procedures will be applied regardless of the numbers of persons allowed in during use or queuing for use

In addition to hand soap, the restrooms will be equipped with sanitizers and sanitizing wipes

Signage will be posted requesting that each user properly wash hands, and follow it by wiping all touched surfaces with sanitize wipes

Ushers and cleaning personnel will be monitoring the use of the restrooms to ensure that they are properly supplied and maintained