Reopening Restoration: Phase Beta


The Phase Beta plan builds on the foundation that was established in Phase Alpha.  Phase Alpha was designed to be deliberately small and conservative so that we could test and pilot having a congregation in our sanctuary.  We wanted to give Restoration people an opportunity to demonstrate their desire to worship in-person and we wanted to test our systems for doing it safely.  Phase Alpha went very well.  

We are now ready to transition from a test phase (Alpha) to an implementation phase (Beta).  This will involve scaling in scope and experience: We will increase our capacity in the sanctuary with subdued singing and add the sacraments of Eucharist and Baptism to our ‘Yard’ experiences.  We will continue to stream our service over YouTube Live each week while also offering Yard Worship once a month in multiple locations.

The transition from Phase Alpha to Beta is not triggered by a shift in the medical realities of the COVID-19 pandemic.  It is a shift from pilot to implementation that comes from successful summer trial runs.  Each of the changes suggested below are within the guidelines and best practices of the state of Virginia Phase 3 plan for religious organizations. 

Here are the changes and additions that will accompany our next phase of reopening Restoration:

Sunday Corporate Worship:  More face coverings, Increased Capacity, soft singing, weekly attendance

As long as the Governor keeps VA at Phase 3, we will generally keep the same guidelines for Sunday, in-person corporate worship as outlined in Phase Alpha with these changes:

  1. Face Coverings:  Based on the guidance of the CDC and Virginia Phase 3 Guidelines for Child Care, we will now ask that everyone over the age of 2 who is in the building wear a face covering.  
    1. CDC guidelines recommend that “people wear masks in public settings when around people outside their household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.” CDC also states that “masks should not be placed on children under age 2.” 
    2. Virginia Phase 3 Guidelines for Child Care states “staff and children over the age of two should use cloth face coverings when physical distancing cannot be maintained.”
    3. Face coverings on everyone over the age of 2 is consistent with the practice of other churches in our diocese.
  2. Capacity.  There is no longer a 50% capacity limit in Phase 3 for religious services. (The Certificate of Occupancy for Restoration’s sanctuary = 384 total people. Restoration’s sanctuary can accommodate 192 people at 50% of sanctuary occupancy load.) The maximum number of people our sanctuary can hold with 10 feet of social distancing is 104.  This is achieved by using an ‘X seating pattern’ putting 2 groups on the ends of a pew, skipping a pew, then a group in the middle of the pew, skipping a pew, then putting 2 groups on the ends of the pew.

    In a desire to build in extra margin for social distancing and smaller seating groups, we will put our sign-up genius cap at 75 (more than phase alpha, but still 25% less than our max number with 10 feet of social distancing).
  3. Singing.  The state of Virginia Phase 3 Guidelines add the following for all business sectors: “Maintain at least ten feet of social distance for establishments where exercise activities, singing, or cheering is performed, and at least six feet of distance for all other settings.”

    Because of the decreased age on face coverings (everyone over the age of 2), and the increased social distance in the sanctuary (10 feet front, back, diagonal, and side to side), the congregation will be instructed to sing quietly during worship.
  4. Attendance Restrictions:  During Phase Alpha, we asked for the congregation to only attend one of the services.  In Phase Beta, we are removing this restriction.  You are free to attend any service, provided in the prior 14 days:  you have not had a fever or other symptoms of COVID-19; and you have not had exposure to a person with COVID-19.  If you have traveled internationally or out of state in the previous 14 days, we ask you to thoughtfully consider not attending in person, in our sanctuary.
  5. Playground is open.  In July, Arlington County opened the playgrounds in county parks.  The Restoration playground is also open for kids to use.  Please wash your hands often. 
  6. Month Yard Worship continues:  We will continue to offer an outdoor opportunity for worship once a monthly in multiple locations around the area. 

Key features of Phase Alpha Corporate Worship that are staying the same:

  1. We will not provide a shuttle from the parking lot at 15th and Quincy. 
    (Many of you have asked how James, our shuttle driver, is doing.  He is doing well!)
  2. We will stream our service over YouTube Live at 10:00am each week.
  3. All the bathrooms are available in the building and should be used by one family at a time.

Yard Eucharist: Outside and weekly

The clergy would like to offer the Eucharist each week, outside, on Sundays, after the morning service, in Restoration’s backyard.  The congregation that is present in the sanctuary would be invited to come outside.  Those who desire outside Eucharist but didn’t attend inside the sanctuary will be free to join in as well.  It will begin around 11:15am. No sign up is necessary. Face coverings will be required.

Restoration is purchasing pre-packaged, individual wafer/wine combos.  (There will be gluten-free options.)  If participants would prefer, they are free to bring their own bread and wine.  These can be consecrated with the other elements. Everything will be put on a table during the Eucharistic prayers.  After ‘the gifts of God for the people of God…’ the congregation will be invited to come forward and take their own.  Once everyone has them, we will take communion together.  

Restoration intends to rent a tent for our parking lot from Sept 15-Nov 15. In the event of rain, the Eucharist could be served under the tent.  We are providing the Eucharist outside in order to limit the number of minutes that people are inside the sanctuary.  Outside is safer.  

The Eucharist will not be broadcast over YTL or Zoom.

This weekly Sunday Eucharist will generally take the place of Yard Eucharist. We want the congregation to have a regular and expected time to receive the Eucharist.  That said, the clergy are open to providing a Yard Eucharist on request.

NOTE: On September 20, October 18, and November 1, the clergy will have an evening Yard Eucharist at Restoration at 5:00pm because we will be celebrating baptisms right after the Sunday service (more on that below).

Yard Baptisms:  outside with multiple priests

We intend to celebrate baptism in Restoration’s yard on September 20, October 18, and November 1 right after the Sunday liturgy. [NOTE: We will offer Evening Yard Eucharist on these dates.] The celebrant will consecrate the water.  Then each family will come forward one at a time to have their child baptized. The parent will hold the child the whole time.  The priest will not take the child in his or her arms.  The priest will wear a face shield and mask.  The priest will NOT be wearing gloves.  Instead the priest will wash and sanitize hands after each baptism.  We will accomplish this by using multiple priests who rotate from baptism to hand washing and then back to baptism.  We will allow 5-7 children for each baptism Sunday.  Each household can bring around 10-12 people.  Our intention, for social distancing, is that we would not have more than 75 people attending.  

We will endeavor to broadcast the baptisms over Zoom (but they may just be recorded and streamed over YTL later). Baptisms will start immediately after the Sunday service (around 11:30am).  Households that are attending the baptism do not need to attend the in-sanctuary worship service. Face coverings are required for all households and their guests.

Adult Small Groups:  2 formats, shorter length

Restoration will provide 2 Adult small group options for the fall from mid-September to mid-November.  Small groups will meet for 60 minutes each week instead of 90 minutes. 

The format of the small group is chosen by the small group leader.

  • Remote-only through an online platform like Zoom, Google hangouts, or FaceTime
  • In-person and outside with masks on.  (Zoom as a weather alternative)

Restoration is not offering inside, in-person small groups during the Fall trimester,

Per our policy for in-person worship in our sanctuary, Restoration will notify small group attendees if someone in a small group they attend (outside, in-person) tests positive for COVID-19.  Health department officials will provide follow-up and contact tracing.

Kids’ Small Groups:  Remote and via Zoom

KSGs will continue to follow the format used in Phase Alpha.  We do not intend to have Sunday, in-person KSGs during Phase Beta.

APEX: A mix of remote and safe in-person events

Apex, our program for middle school and high school students, will kick off on Sept 13.  We’re aiming to offer both virtual gatherings and safe, socially distanced, in-person events.

Fall retreat: Connection and content in Arlington

The vestry has chosen to postpone the retreat at Massanetta Springs to October 9-10, 2021.  

The 2020 Fall Retreat team is creating an opportunity for our church to connect with each other and receive content from our speaker during the weekend of October 9-11, 2020.  We look forward to giving you those details soon.  Keep that weekend free!

Looking ahead…  we have not made final decisions about the 2021 Men’s Retreat and Women’s Retreat.  We anticipate that God will use our RestoMen and RestoWomen programs in powerful ways this year.  We will have details soon!