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Guidelines for Re-Opening the Building of Holy Apostles

July 2020

Dear Brothers & Sisters in Christ,

As many of you know, Bishop Provenzano has granted permission for us to reopen churches in the Diocese as of July 1st.  While granting us that permission, he has also left it up to the judgment of the priests in charge to decide when to open the church to groups and worship.

As your co-priests-in-charge of Holy Apostles, we take our responsibility to the church community and the greater Windsor Terrace community very seriously; looking out for the health and well being of all of God’s children in the midst of COVID-19 is of utmost important to us.   How and when the church re-opens will be done with a lot of thought and prayer.  We will take many things into consideration and listen to many voices; science and medicine will lead us in this decision and we will always err on the side of caution to protect the safety and well being of our parish and greater community.

In May we convened a working group made up of parishioners to consider the issues about re-opening the building and two weeks ago we issued a parish-wide survey to get your input and to see how you were feeling about a return to the building.

What we are issuing today are the results of that collective data gathering, conversations, guidelines from the Diocese as well as recommendations from health-care professionals.  We have also attached the guidelines from the Diocese so that you can read what regulations they have put forth for us to follow.  If you have any questions, please let us know. We are open to hearing from you.

Of the 55 responses we received from our survey:

  • 85% of you are attending Zoom church
  • 70% of you are attending every week
  • 54% of you said you would continue worshipping at home if we opened in September, 15% said you would wait until a vaccine, and 16% are unsure
  • 65% of you said you would return in November or were unsure of when you would return
  • Most of you miss seeing people in person & quiet time in the sanctuary.

Please keep in mind that this is a very fluid situation. While we will certainly pray for guidance through these difficult times, we will also be paying attention to the facts.  To the extent the number of cases begins to rise in NYC as they are in the rest of the country, we will reevaluate how and when we use our church building.  We pray that everyone will remain flexible and remember that while our building is closed, church is open and thriving: attendance, engagement and giving are all very strong. 

Over these months, we have learned to connect and deepen our relationships with each other in new ways using the technology at our disposal. People have been joining us in worship and in small groups from all over the country; our choir under the great direction of Saya has lead us in song every Sunday; our Sacred Ground series has over 30 people enrolled; we have sponsored over 70 school children and have raised and given away over $13,000 to families from PS 15 to pay their rent for 3 months.

We have begun to do our fall program planning, and based on these last 3 months, we know that looking forward we will be able to offer Spirit filled opportunities.  While it will be some time before we come back together in person, we do not see this as a constraint, rather as a great opportunity for growth in unimaginable ways. We want to take what we have learned from this time and reflect on how we can continue to be engaged on this level, transforming our own lives and the lives of others. As a result of these challenges we have faced over the past months, we have truly become a church, not limited to the confines of our treasured space - expanding our reach beyond our walls.  It is an exciting time at Holy Apostles, for us to experience the expansive movement of God in our collective life together and for the church!

In peace,

The Mothers


Members of the Task Force

Audrey Whitworth, warden 
Peter Saghir, warden
Ann Mellow
Scott Pasternak
Heather Kelly
Pat Thebaud
Elizabeth McCormick, MD
Jerry Hanen
Saya Callner
The Revs. Kimberlee Auletta & Sarah Kooperkamp, Co-Priests-In Charge


Guidelines for Re-Opening the Building of Holy Apostles

Preparing our Space:

  • As we move towards re-opening the building, as a working group we have had to consider our space and how we can most safely and dynamically make adjustments – not just because of the pandemic – but thinking about the future and how we can use the space in the sanctuary.
  • We are in the midst of reconfiguring the seating, to establish a more flexible worship space. In this process the sanctuary floors are being refinished.

Preparing Technology:

  • In order to return to worship on Sundays in the building, we will need to be set up for a hybrid worship experience: broadcasting our services from the sanctuary for those who choose to continue to worship at home. In order to do that, we will be upgrading our internet service as well as purchasing audiovisual equipment.

Cleaning the Space:

  • Holy Apostles does not employ a full or part-time sexton (person who cleans the church and the grounds). We have someone who cleans weekly. One of the considerations and new expenses for the parish will be to have a cleaning person or service more days a week especially when we re-open the doors to AA & Al-Anon.

Phase  1:          Later this summer, we will host 1-2 gatherings on the lawn for people to stop by so that folks can see each other in person. We will ask folks to sign up in advance.

                        * Funerals – graveside only with 10 people are permitted

Phase 2:           September: The sanctuary will be open 2x per week for prayer for 1 hour.  A maximum of 10 people will be allowed in at a time. (see entering the building guidelines below). 

*Funerals, weddings allowed in church with limit of 10 people, no music or communion.

Phase 3:           Target date: November 29, the first Sunday of Advent. Hybrid church begins. Max # of in person attendees TBD. No communion, no in person choir; we will have music and a soloist.

*Funerals, weddings and baptisms permitted with a max number of attendees TBD.

Phase 4:           Date TBD: Communion resumes. Hybrid church continues.


  • Hand sanitizer near the entrance;
  • Masks available and worn by all people in the church for the duration;
  • The service bulletin will continue to be distributed electronically;
  • Registration of attendees for contract tracing purposes;
  • Bathrooms will be closed through phase 3;
  • Suspension of coffee hour or any other social gathering through phase 3;
  • Suspension of use of air conditioning, windows to be open when possible.

Link to Diocesan Guidelines:  https://www.diolicovid19.info/lcp-june-10-2020.html

Link to American Progress Article on re-opening church buildings: https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/religion/news/2020/06/18/486522/17-faqs-houses-worship-considering-reopening-amid-coronavirus-crisis/


May the Lord Project

Holy Apostles "May the Lord" project. Sign up today!

In this difficult time, you have probably seen choirs around the world creating virtual choir videos including our awesome choir! We would now like to create a virtual video of congregational "May the Lord". This will be an uplifting project, and it will be better with more voices and faces, so please consider joining!

Please watch sample video of our choir singing Alleluia. It will look like this but with much more people.


What to do:
Please participate in the short zoom session of Saya explaining how to create a video. The zoom sessions will be recorded for anyone who missed it. All you need is your interest, and I will explain exactly what will happen! In short, you will listen to an audio recording of Saya singing May the Lord, and at the same time video tape yourselves singing!

Zoom sessions:
Join us after church on Sunday, May 24th for a detailed explanation

Recording submission due date: Monday June 8th

Posted by Saya Callner

Next Steps Outreach & Reflection


Dear Brothers & Sisters in Christ,

Just as Hurricane Katrina revealed the unjust inequalities in the Gulf Coast, the COVID-19 pandemic is revealing nationwide the inequalities amongst our people.  In our neighborhood, we have been made aware of the educational inequalities with children asked to engage in distance learning who don't have access to technology or supplies and books at home - some of the things we take for granted. 

Educational inequality is just one of the results of income inequality - food insecurity is another result that we are seeing an increase in over these past few weeks. Our partners at Masbia have been able to keep the doors open of their food pantry - no hot meals are currently being made and served - but they find themselves short of volunteers and supplies.  We have also been made aware that the food pantry at Holy Innocents Church on East 17th and Beverly has also restarted in  April and they too are in desperate need of volunteers

We understand that not everyone feels comfortable during this time going out and volunteering. However, if you are, there are opportunities to do so. Both places are practicing social distancing and requiring PPEs. If you would like to volunteer at Masbia, please email us. If you would like to volunteer at Holy Innocents, please sign up directly with them:

Holy Innocent's Food Pantry

If you are not able to volunteer, but would like to help out by donating money or sponsoring a student, there is great need. PS 15 and 676 still has some students who need to be sponsored - if you would like to sponsor a student, please email us here.  If you are able to donate money to help buy food and groceries for local Kensington families in need, please do so through "People in Need" which was started by the PA co-president of PS 217 on Newkirk Ave:

COVID19 Crisis - Kensington Support Group

You are always welcome to donate money to our discretionary account which is used to help pay rent and bills for people in need. You can donate to our:

Holy Apostles Discretionary Fund

Reflecting on this time:
In order to work towards God's beloved community where we can support each other - support our neighbors and help create a more equal society, we need to begin a conversation. We did just that this past Thursday with Colleen & John Wessel-McCoy - and we'd like to continue this conversation and see where it takes us. sharing our abundance is the first step - we'd like to figure out what the next steps are.  We will be facilitating weekly discussions with theological reflections on responding to inequality in our time on Thursdays at 4pm.  If you would like to join us, please email us here.  Please feel free to invite friends.

We are so grateful for our Holy Apostles community and how we have come together during this time.  We know that a lot is being asked of us now - emotionally, spiritually, physically and financially.  We wanted to share with you a reflection from John Dufour, Holy Apostles parishioner, dad to Elizabeth, husband to Stina, Sunday School teacher and PS 139 social worker:

Attempting to work remotely while also parenting a toddler full-time has been exhausting to say the least. There have been plenty of moments where I want to default to total isolation, bunkering down with just our family and just riding this out without considering anyone else. In the moment it feels simpler, less to manage, one fewer responsibility I have to handle. However the times where our family has decided to push into the lives of others remotely, whether it's a Zoom call to check in on friends, or donating to a neighborhood organization in need, has brought a renewal to our hearts and souls. I'm reminded of Isaiah 58:6-12, where the writer beautifully captures that when we seek the justice of our neighbors, we encounter the fullness of God in powerful ways. Through generous giving and seeking justice for our neighbors, we will be satisfied and strengthened. Being privileged to have maintained our jobs and pay during this time presents the call to surrender what has been entrusted to us so that others can be lifted up and cared for as well.

Friends, let us use our privilege for the greater good of our neighbors, living out God's call to us.

In peace with love,
The Mothers