Welcome Back to Church

In the Spirit of love and with thanks to God, His grace has provided us to reopening our church in a measured way with strict adherence to the previous Directive From the Archdiocese. In collaboration with the Metropolitan Archbishop, Sayidna is instructing us to begin with caution by exercising prudence in the upcoming weeks, asking for our continued prayers and patience as we begin this process. Today’s Directive is meant to be a temporary and intermediate step with the hope that our gradual increase in church attendance will not require any reversal of the positive trends that have been observed recently.

Holy Eucharist (Communion) & Holy Reconciliation (Confession) may be scheduled by appointment with the Pastor and at his discretion on weekdays. If you cannot travel to speak to your Spiritual Father/Mother in person, call them to do Confession/Spiritual Discussion over the phone and then go to your local parish priest like Father John for Absolution. All who plan to receive the Mysteries (Sacraments) must be properly prepared and should first arrange their appointment with Father John.

Appointment Confession & Communion

The bishop’s instructions at this time are as follows:

  1. Weekend and Weekday Festal Liturgies and Services (as announced) will continue to be live-streamed <Facebook.com/StNicholasAR/live> and conducted by one (1) celebrant, one (1) altar server, and two (2) chanters. The laity may attend up to 33% of Nave capacity, which we believe to be around 60 people. Please contact Father John in advance of attending and receiving the Sacraments.
  2. Anyone with cold or flu symptoms (i.e., fever, coughing, shortness of breath, sore throat, or headache), or anyone with a pre-condition and low resistance to viruses, should remain at home and phone Father John for an appointment to receive the Mysteries (Sacraments) at a convenient time.
  3. No Choir or congregational singing. Singing has been shown to highly increase the spread of the virus. Two (2) chanters will perform the services spaced a safe-distance apart and away from the congregation.
  4. Everyone who attends church services must observe the practice of safe-distancing between family groups in our building.
    • We are opening up the overflow doors to maximize the available space for worship while maintaining safe-distancing between family groups.
    • Members of the same household shall sit together to save space. Other members and visitors should be spaced out to maintain a minimum of 6ft safe-distancing.
    • The chairs in our worship space will be spaced accordingly.
    • Observing safe-distancing includes while standing in line for Holy Eucharist (Communion).
  5. Cloth face coverings are highly encouraged for everyone. Face coverings are most essential when social distancing is difficult.
    • All who attend church services are asked to wear masks, except at the moment when Holy Eucharist (Communion) is received, at which time, the Mystery (Sacrament) will be administered.
    • “We will continue to offer Communion according to our Tradition, but all should allow the priest to pour the Body and Blood by opening their mouths wide and not closing their lips on the spoon.” When it is a person’s turn in line to move forward to receive the Sacrament, their protective face mask should be removed, mouth opened wide — while holding one’s breath if possible for approximately three seconds — as the Sacrament is administered; after which one’s protective mask should be immediately replaced.
    • Cloth face coverings should not be placed on children younger than 2 years old, anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious, and anyone who is incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the cloth face-covering without assistance.
    • Cloth face coverings are meant to protect other people in case the wearer is unknowingly infected but does not have symptoms.
  6. Hand sanitizers and masks will be available in the Narthex (Entry) and Fellowship Hall for anyone entering and leaving the building.
  7. Bowing will be practiced during the exchange of peace within the Liturgy [“Christ is in our midst; He is and ever shall be!”] in place of shaking hands, kissing, or hugging persons.
  8. At the end of the services, the veneration of the Holy Cross following the final blessing (including the veneration of icons and the Gospel Book) should be done by bowing—with a minimum of physical contact as an alternative to kissing.
  9. All of the cut Antidoron/Qurban (Holy Bread) will be handed to the Faithful by someone wearing serving gloves at the time of Holy Eucharist (Communion) and at the end of the Divine Liturgy. Do not reach into the common dish.
  10. Dismissal from services will be coordinated to minimize cross-flow movements of people.
  11. All of our clergy and laity must observe proper hygiene and respect each other’s personal space: avoiding hugs, handshakes, kissing. Also practice regular hand washing, coughing or sneezing in their elbow/shoulder, etc.
  12. The Church is available for personal prayer, the lighting of candles, and making offerings during the week. If you do not have a key you may come by appointment with Father John: <FatherJohnA@att.net> (479) 871-0559.
  13. Our worship space will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected; especially the highly touched surfaces and items following each service, and the doors will be opened to allow fresh air into the building. Volunteers are welcome to assist us at a time following each service. Detailed instructions will be provided upon request.
  14. All non-liturgical (social) and Church School gatherings will NOT be resumed at this time. All Parish Council and organizational meetings, Bible studies, and Church School Classes will be conducted by Zoom meetings to be scheduled and announced.

May God grant you all a blessed Paschal Season and an abundance of health!

Love in the Risen Lord,
Father John and St. Nicholas Parish Council

Please note the following schedule of upcoming services.

  • Saturday, June 6th — Great Vespers, 6 pm
  • Sunday, June 7th — Orthros, 8:45 am & Divine Liturgy, 10 am
  • Sunday, June 14th — Reader’s Orthros, 9 am & Reader’s Typica, 10 am
    • Father John will be out of town for at least a week.

Questions?
You may contact Father John by E-mail, Phone, Text, or Web-form.

Communion & Confession Open Again

Christ is risen! !المسي قام Χριστoς aνέστη!

It is with great joy and relief that we announce the reopening of the Mysteries (Sacraments) by Appointment.

Holy Eucharist (Communion) & Holy Reconciliation (Confession) may now be scheduled by appointment with the Pastor and at his discretion on weekdays. For those who cannot travel to speak to your Spiritual Father/Mother in person, call them to do Confession/Spiritual Discussion over the phone. Then, when you are able, come to Father John or your local priest for Absolution.

All who plan to receive the Mysteries (Sacraments) should be properly prepared and should first arrange their appointment with Father John: FatherJohnA@att.net (479) 871-0559.

We are very close to being able to re-open our doors to the Faithful. Please be patient with us. Your health and that of our community are very important to us. For now, please continue to worship with us remotely via the live-streaming services @ facebook.com/StNicholasAR/live . We will be making announcements about these things in the near future!

Love in the Risen Lord,
Father John and St. Nicholas Parish Council

Holy Week? Pascha? 😷

2020 Holy Week & Pascha Schedule

The season of Great Lent (Spring) has been very different this year. We are isolated, lonely, and depressed. We long to gather together to sing praise and supplications to our God and to partake of the Holy gifts of His Body and His Blood.

We are committed to following the guidelines set out by the pandemic experts and our lawful civil authorities for the safety and security of all life. Stay home. All Lenten services have been canceled and we are live-streaming the Sunday morning Orthros and Divine Liturgies on our Facebook page, fb.com/StNicholasAR/live/ @ 9 & 10 am so that the faithful can participate from their homes. Also, see the Holy Week schedule below. Please take advantage of these “virtual” services to participate in the worship. The Church of the boundless God is not contained within buildings built by humans anymore that God Himself. The Kingdom of God is within us. We have become the dwelling place of the uncontainable Creator of All.


Schedule

Father John has provided a working schedule for Great and Holy Week and Blessed Pascha. These will all be live-streamed on fb.com/StNicholasAR/Live/
This schedule is subject to change or significant modification, so please be patient and understanding.

Holy Week
  • April 7-11
    • No Public Services During Week
  • April 12 Palm Sunday
    • 9:00 Am Orthros
    • 10:00 Am Liturgy
    • 6:00 Pm Bridegroom Orthros
  • April 13 – Holy Monday
    • 6:00 Pm Bridegroom Orthros
  • April 14 – Holy Tuesday
    • 6:00 Pm Bridegroom Orthros
  • April 15 – Holy Wednesday
    • 6:00 Pm Orthros
  • April 16 – Holy Thursday
    • 6:00 Pm 12 Passion Gospels
  • April 17 – Holy Friday
    • 4:00 Pm Great Vespers
    • 5:00 Pm Taking Down From Cross & Lamentations
  • April 18 – Holy Saturday
    • 10:00 am Divine Liturgy
    • 10:30 Pm Rush Procession
    • 11:00 Pm Orthros
  • April 19 – Great & Holy Pascha
    • 12:01 am Paschal Divine Liturgy
    • 4:00 pm Agape Vespers
    • No Afternoon Lamb Dinner

Here are some practical ways to participate from your own “little Churches.” →

Services can also be found on the St Nicholas Church Public Google Calendar. See it on the website StNicholasAR.org/Resources/Schedule-and-Calendar/ or subscribe to the Church Calendar to have it on all your devices!
Father John Atchison is reachable @ (479) 871-0559 & FatherJohn@StNicholasAR.org


You may also be interested in reading and listening to some of the many terrific online resources available about the Lenten Season.

†St Nicholas Parish Council

Practical Guide to Live-streamed services

A Practical Guide for participating in Church services that are live-streamed.
Sunday morning Orthros & Divine Liturgy are streamed on fb.com/StNicholasAR every Sunday @ 9 am.
Make an appointment with the priest to come receive the Eucharist!

Parish Plans Regarding COVID-19, Revised

Beloved of Christ Jesus,
The Lord bless and keep us all!

We continue to try to find the best way forward as COVID-19 spreads in our area. We write to encourage you in faith and love and to outline some practical measures we are taking for the health of our community.

Metropolitan JOSEPH has released an updated encyclical regarding the current crisis, March 17th, 2020. He gives clear directions to the Antiochian Orthodox Churches regarding our plans to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
“As we cautioned in our encyclical of last week, we are in the midst of a rapidly changing situation, and it was likely that we would be asked to make more sacrifices […]. With yesterday’s announcement of the new CDC recommendations by President Trump, that time has sadly come. With pain of heart, but also hope in our Lord, I ask the clergy and faithful of our Archdiocese to abide by these new directives that we may do our part in combatting this pandemic:”

St Nicholas Church’s Current Plan

  1. Everything is canceled or postponed until further notice except for Sunday morning Orthros & Divine Liturgy. This includes all non-liturgical gatherings and all Lenten Services plus our weekly Great Vespers. There are ONLY 2 services each week (Sunday morning) until further notice.
  2. We encourage everyone to stay home. Father John is coordinating with the Altar Server Ministry Team & the Liturgical Choir/Chanters to have the minimum number of staff needed for each service.
  3. We will do our best to make these services available live streaming on our Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/StNicholasAR/
  4. We encourage you to pray at home during this time of social distancing. It could be a great blessing for us to pray together in our homes. Please see the Liturgics section of the archdiocese website for the new offerings.
  5. The Parish Council is developing emergency relief plans for anyone who needs emergency assistance. Volunteers will be ready to pick up supplies and deliver them to homes in the most sanitary manner possible. We are hopeful that things will not get to this point.
  6. Financially the parish has a reserve of 3 months we could operate on if no one was able to continue tithing. Thankfully, many of you are taking advantage of our online donation system with Paypal. And we expect others will be able to mail in their contributions.
  7. We are uncertain about Holy Week & Pascha but right now we’re just going to take this a day at a time. There is real grief about missing Church, but this can also be a time of faith-building.

Metropolitan JOSHEPH’s Directives

  1. Beginning today, all parishes are instructed to cancel all non-liturgical, in-person activities including schools, business meetings, and social functions.
  2. All liturgical services will be served with only clergy, servers, and chanters. No liturgical service can total more than ten persons.
  3. Churches should remain open during the week as much as possible for people to offer individual prayers and light candles.
  4. Priests are instructed to limit services to only the Akathist/Medayeh and Sunday Orthros & Divine Liturgy as well as the liturgy for the Annunciation on March 25th as outlined by the Department of Liturgics.
  5. All parishes are encouraged to take advantage of the technology at our disposal to live-stream the divine services and offer education to the faithful.
  6. The Archdiocese will provide service texts for the faithful to pray at home during this time of social distancing. Please see the Liturgics section of our website for the new offerings.
  7. All measures to ensure the cleaning and sanitizing of the church must continue even though we are limiting our numbers of faithful in attendance.
  8. Funerals must be limited to the guidelines set by our civil authorities.
  9. Baptisms should be postponed except for cases of emergency.
  10. Finally, we pray that by implementing these measures in coordination with our civil authorities, we can hasten the time when it will be safe to return to a full liturgical life in the church, and, God willing, save lives at the same time.

Remender to use Good Personal Hygiene Habits

  • We all need to be intentional about using good personal hygiene.
  • Hand sanitizer is our friend. We will do our best to keep hand sanitizer available in the narthex for use when entering and leaving. There are currently shortages of commercially produced hand sanitizers, but we will make every effort to procure the ingredients to make a trustworthy homemade version, one with an isopropyl alcohol percentage of at least 70%. At the same time, if you have it, do bring your own hand sanitizer too, so that our church supply will last longer.
  • Hand sanitizer isn’t our only friend. Washing our hands for 20 seconds after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing following proper procedure with warm soapy water is the surest way to prevent the spread from person to person through hand-to-hand contact.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Practice respiratory hygiene – This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.
  • Stay home if you feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and a slight runny nose until you recover. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance. We will miss you, but we want you to rest and get healthy; and, of course, we’d rather not spread anything around. When you do find it necessary to stay home due to illness – not just during this special period of concern, but at other times as well – please do send Father John a message so that he can include you in our parish prayers.
  • If you do have to be where other people are, stay at least 6 feet away whenever possible.
  • Follow the directions of your local health authority.

Here is a simple list from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to help prevent getting and spreading contagions such as the coronavirus. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/prevention.html

The Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all,
†St Nicholas Parish Council

We commend to your use the wonderful prayer often attributed to St Philaret of Moscow or to the Elders of the Optina Monastery, which you can find below. It is a prayer to embrace God’s will in the day-to-day events and circumstances of our lives. Through the divine services, through the use of the inspired prayers of the saints, and through time spent quietly in God’s presence (perhaps gently reciting the Jesus Prayer to anchor our attention), may we find comfort and growth during these difficult times.