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.
The bishop’s instructions at this time are as follows:
- Weekend and Weekday Services (as announced) will continue to be live-streamed <Facebook.com/StNicholasAR/live> . The laity may attend up to 33% of Nave capacity, which is 60 people.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- Hand sanitizers and masks will be available in the Narthex (Entry) and Fellowship Hall for anyone entering and leaving the building.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Dismissal from services will be coordinated to minimize cross-flow movements of people.
- 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.
- The Church is available for personal prayer, the lighting of candles, and making offerings during the week. You may come by appointment with Father John: <FatherJohnA@att.net> (479) 871-0559.
- 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.
- 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!
The St. Nicholas Church Parish Council
You may contact Father John by E-mail, Phone, Text, or Web-form.