As we are approaching Great Lent, His Eminence Archbishop Benjamin has communicated the relaxation of some of the restrictions we have observed over the last several months.
1) “Icons may be venerated in the customary manner; the people should be advised to be attentive to their own health when doing so, e.g. people with coughs or colds should refrain from kissing the icons as they would refrain from doing at the time of any illness.”
In other words, you are free to again venerate icons and the Cross as is customary.
2) “Coffee/fellowship hours may be held, provided they take place outdoors, and that the other usual procedures are maintained, e.g., social distancing is observed.”
Since we do not have a convenient outdoors property, we may gather at Blue Heron Park on Sundays after Liturgy (weather permitting). We will not share food, so bring your own “picnic basket.” Also remember that we still need to observe social distancing (please remember this!), and still wear masks when not eating (this is an Oregon regulation).
Also, you should probably bring blankets and/or lawn chairs, since it will not be possible to sit at picnic tables and maintain recommended distance.
3) “Collection baskets may be passed.”
At the end of Liturgy we will again take up a collection as usual, during “I will bless the Lord at all times…”
Archbishop Benjamin concludes his message:
“It is my hope that these changes in our diocesan protocols and procedures will herald the restoration of all our customary liturgical and parish practices. May the Lord grant it soon! With my brother hierarchs of the Holy Synod, I encourage you to avail yourselves of the spiritual richness of the Church’s Lenten Services as often as possible. I ask everyone to do so in all care and safety and to remain vigilant in caring for one another. As we journey through Great Lent, we walk with Christ to Golgotha and on to the empty tomb. May we all look forward to celebrating the third-day resurrection in faith and hope, and with love for one another.”
Fr. Andreas Blom
Rector, Archangel Gabriel Orthodox Church