St. Thomas the Apostle
Orthodox Church
Waldorf, MD
Guidelines

Please read the latest update from Metropolitan Gregory sent out 8/31/20 to the Diocese regarding Covid: Protocol 31, Protocol 32, and an updated Prayer List for those who are sick, fallen asleep, and fron-line workers (First Responders, Healthcare workers, etc.)

The previous update from Metropolitan Gregory dated 7/16/20 regarding Coronavirus is located at this link.

Special petitions regarding Coronavirus can be found here.

Attendance at services is still limited due to state and local protocols (see Schedule & Seating Charts here).  The good news is that even with some of our faithful staying home for health reasons, the sign-up for returning to church exceeds our average weekly attendance. "Let us be diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."  (Eph. 4:1-3)

We will continue to follow the current plan of three rotating groups until/unless the state/local guidelines change. The groups are designed to accommodate as many people as we can up to the set limits while maintaining the requirements for social distancing. Please review the list below and follow the schedule for your participation in Divine Liturgy. Please reach out to outreach@apostlethomas.org with any questions.

  • Everyone over the age of five who attends services at St. Thomas must wear a face covering, however exceptions for medical reasons are permitted. Out of consideration for others, please wear a mask; we're in church together for a long time.

  • Anybody with a temperature should stay home and watch the liturgy online.

  • Social distancing is required for everybody.   Families can "group," and that's reflected in the seating chart.

  • Hand sanitizer is in the narthex.

  • Kissing icons and the cross is optional.  If you choose not to, just bow.

  • Normal attendance at Saturday vespers and our weekly morning prayer services is minimal.  So, for the time being, anybody can come.

  • To receive communion, only one person will move at a time.  Starting from the front, one individual will come forward, receive, and then return to his/her seat.  Then the next person can come forward.  This will take a little longer, but we'll avoid rubbing shoulders with each other as we come and go.

  • The priest will distribute antidoron after sanitizing his hands so we don't have 20 hands in the bowl.  You don't have to take it.

  • After service, all the surfaces, light switches, door handles, sinks, toilet seats, etc. need to be wiped down with the disinfecting wipes in the narthex.  Please volunteer to stick around and do it.

  • The priest may commune you wearing a mask because he is speaking while you are close.  Or, he may say the words silently or softly.  Also, it's been a while since he's seen you, he's quite old, so you may have to feed him your baptismal name!

  • Maintain social distance while leaving, and know that others might be trying to enter church to pray after the service ends around 11:45.  Feel free to go out the side doors.

If you can't make the Liturgy for which you are scheduled due to work conflict, etc. please try to reach out to a group that is similar in size to yours if you want to exchange schedules. For example, a group of (5) can swap with a (5) or (4), a single can swap with a single, etc. The challenge is that we are not only limited by the spacing that we should maintain for appropriate distancing, but we are limited to people allowed in the church, including Priest, Altar Server, & Cantor.

Even if you are not scheduled to attend liturgy on a particular Sunday, you may still come after liturgy to pray, light candles, and receive communion.  If you plan to receive the Eucharist, maintain your usual Eucharistic fasting and prayer discipline.  The priest won't empty the chalice until around 12:30.

These guidelines/arrangements will probably change as we gain experience living with them,  be patient.