Worship Update: Lifting the Mask Mandate (March 7, 2022)

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MARCH 7, 2022

Dean Thomason has prepared this brief (5-minute) video message, regarding changes in mask policies that will go into effect at the cathedral on Sunday, March 13. A written version of this message appears below.

Please watch, and email the Dean at sthomason@saintmarks.org with any questions you may have.

Dear friends,

As you surely know, beginning March 12 (per Governor Inslee and King County Public Health), the mask mandate for indoor gatherings generally—and houses of worship specifically—are lifted, subject to restoration if infection rates rise and warrant that.

Given these changes, Saint Mark’s Cathedral will adopt the same practice, effective Sunday March 13, 2022, but with a few important safeguards to ensure that we preserve space for all to feel welcome. Please note these details and help us hold the space for all to feel welcome:

  • The south pews and additional chairs in the south transept remain “masked only” for the protection of small children and others for whom that protection is important.
  • Folks seated in the northern (undistanced) sections can mask or not, their choice, but they cannot guarantee that others around them will be masked.
  • Vested ministers and ushers also have the choice to mask or not; however, when they are serving in the narthex or in the “masked only” (south) sections, they will wear masks.
  • All ministers distributing communion will mask at the communion stations for bread and wine.
  • Choirs—all are vaccinated and can remove their masks (or not, as they choose) when singing in north sections of the nave or the gallery. They will mask during procession through the nave.
  • We continue to livestream the 11 a.m. Eucharist and 9:30 p.m. Compline services each Sunday, Choral Evensong the first Sunday of the month at 4:30pm, and other special services. This remains a viable way of connecting to the community and worshipping as part of it.

A few more details regarding other gatherings and spaces:

  • Thomsen Chapel services. The mask mandate is lifted, but individuals are welcome to continue to mask. We have programmed the HVAC system to ventilate the space well before, during, and after every service.
  • Church Office. The mask mandate is lifted March 12, but anyone is welcome to continue wearing their mask, and any parishioner visiting a staff member is welcome to ask that masks be worn while meeting.
  • Ministry groups. If children under five are present, all should remain masked.
  • Ministry groups. If no children under five are present, the group that gathers should confer and gain consensus on masking. It is my hope that groups will be considerate of the concerns we bring into such spaces. It may be that one has a newborn relative, or an immunocompromised member of their household whose well-being prompts them to seek a more cautious path.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly: If you have any symptoms, stay home and test! This move to relax precautions will only succeed if we all seek to serve the common good. So if you have symptoms, please stay home.

Of course, it is also likely that a new variant or another surge may prompt the return of mask mandates, but for now we make this turn with a deep desire to be together, to see each other’s faces, and to forge community in life-giving ways. I am grateful for your part in that.

Blessings and peace,

The Very Reverend Steven L. Thomason
Dean and Rector

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