Dear Good Samaritans,

On Sunday, your Bishop’s Committee discussed the Re-Opening Guidelines we received last week from the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis. We commend the Bishop’s document for your review.

Of particular note in Bishop Jennifer’s guidelines:

  • No congregation is required to return to its church building for in-person public worship. We have the bishop’s full support if we judge that continuing to stream from home is the best choice for our congregation at this time.
  • Prior to resumption of any public gatherings, the number of cases of COVID-19 must have decreased in Hendricks County for 14 consecutive days, the county must retain the ability to test all who are COVID-19 symptomatic, and the county must have systems in place to contact all individuals who test positive for COVID-19 and complete contact tracing.
  • No gathering inside or outside, including public worship, will be permitted to have more than 25 persons in attendance for the foreseeable future. Masks and social distancing are required of everyone, and because of the particular risk of transmission associated with it, singing (either on the part of musicians or the congregation) is prohibited. As well, because of the risks, celebration of the Holy Eucharist is highly discouraged.
  • A congregation must prepare a re-entry plan and submit it for approval by Bishop Jennifer and her staff prior to resumption of any in-person gatherings.

Good Samaritan is in a unique situation as we consider re-entry plans, given our leased space in a public school building at Harris Academy. Understandably, Brownsburg Community School Corporation (BCSC) is being cautious in their reopening planning and may be even more restrictive in allowing third parties such as Good Samaritan to return to their premises. As of this writing, BCSC will not even consider space use requests until the beginning of July, in accordance with State of Indiana school closure guidelines.

Because of all these factors, your Vicar and Bishop’s Committee have concluded that, for the foreseeable future, Good Samaritan should continue our Sunday online worship and other offerings in our present online format. As well, our office at Elevate will remain closed for the immediate future and our staff will continue to work from home and will be accessible by phone.

We have appointed a Re-Entry team consisting of the Wardens, Father Gray, and Dr. Brian Dixon, our own resident epidemiologist. Our team will craft a plan first to begin in-person weekday gatherings (perhaps in limited numbers, in outdoor formats?) later this summer and then will consider how we might return to Harris Academy on Sundays in the future. We’ve asked the Re-Entry team to include the following as “musts”:

  • Good Sam’s will adhere to all Diocesan and BCSC safety guidelines.
  • When we do gather in person, our Sunday worship experience needs to be great and enjoyable for everyone, including our families with young children.
  • Whatever gatherings we offer must include a provision to warmly welcome and include first-time visitors and guests.
  • Mindful of our commitment to inclusion, we must be careful to not fragment our congregation into two “classes”–those who are able attend in-person worship and those who cannot or, for whatever reason, choose not to attend in-person worship.

As soon as our plan has been developed and approved by the Bishop, we will, of course, communicate it all to you as quickly as possible.

While we know that virtual gathering isn’t ideal, we pause to give thanks that, since beginning our online worship on March 15, we have had several achievements that are heartwarming and sometimes surprising in their success.  Among them are:

  • We continue to be the #ChurchThatServes in new and inventive ways. Our Porch Drop Ministry is supporting 5-7 homeless families living in Plainfield that would otherwise struggle for food and support.
  • We’ve experienced growth in our Sunday worship, moving from an average Sunday attendance of 125 to 180. (Yes, this counts Gray’s mother and grandmother, but they’re thrilled to join us!)
  • Interactive participation in our worship is high; the “chat box” is full of responses to reflection questions and in virtual greetings to one another.
  • Our congregational energy and giving remains high; your continued generosity has enabled us to pay our staff through this crisis and to refocus our outreach budget to respond to COVID in our community and to assist members of our congregation with rent, groceries, and utilities. Thank you for your generosity!
  • We’ve established several weekday online experiences for different age groups, including activities for Good Sam’s Littles, two Going Deeper groups, and online Good Sam’s Kids gatherings.
  • We’re checking in on each other and supporting each other like never before. Our paid staff and lay volunteers are calling, texting, and Zooming with all of our congregants, and our Oldies But Goodies Group is also nurturing and supporting each other with extra calls and texts.

We’re grateful to be on this journey with you, and appreciate your words of encouragement as we seek God’s wisdom to make the best possible decisions for our faith community and the people we serve. As always, if you have questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to Father Gray (gray@churchthatserves.org) or your Bishop’s Committee (bishopscommittee@churchthatserves.org)

Yours in Christ,

The Rev. Gray Lesesne, Vicar
Kevin Samples, Senior Warden
Erin Tanner, Junior Warden

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All Sunday worship services will be held ONLINE until further notice due to COVID-19. Please check out our calendar to find all of our online and in-person gatherings. Calendar
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