COVID-19 Resources

Statement on Vaccines & Exemption Letters

From the Eparchial Synod of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

On Thursday, September 16, 2021, His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America convened a regular meeting of the Holy Eparchial Synod via video conference, in order to deliberate on significant matters that affect the Archdiocese of America.

Discussing the topic of the vaccination of the faithful, the hierarchs unanimously affirmed that the Church not only permits vaccinations against diseases (e.g. polio, smallpox), but that She encourages Her Faithful, after medical tests and approbations, to be vaccinated with the approved vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19).

In addition, although some may be exempt from the vaccination for clear medical reasons, there is no exemption in the Orthodox Church for Her faithful from any vaccination for religious reasons, including the coronavirus vaccine.

For this reason, letters of exemption for the vaccination against the coronavirus for religious purposes issued by priests of the Archdiocese of America have no validity, and furthermore, no clergy are to issue such religious exemption letters for any reason.

The Holy Eparchial Synod urges the faithful to pay heed to competent medical authorities, and to avoid the false narratives utterly unfounded in science and perpetrated on the Church by those who have succumbed to the disinformation and conspiracy theories that are widely available on social media sites.

FROM THE CHIEF SECRETARIATE OF THE HOLY EPARCHIAL SYNOD

Updated COVID Policies

May 28, 2021

Beloved in the Lord,

Christ is risen!

As we continue to move together toward the end of the pandemic (God willing!), and as we are all in the process of reuniting with friends and family, as well as with our “parish family” so that we can once again worship together in faith and fellowship, we wanted to provide you with an update about our church’s policies.

You are likely already aware that on May 7, 2021 Governor Sununu changed the legal requirement to wear masks, maintain social distancing, and avoid shared implements/objects within houses of worship. We now have a set of “Universal Guidelines” generally applicable to all businesses and activities within the State of New Hampshire. These new Universal Guidelines recommend, but do not require, that people continue to follow all CDC guidelines and all state guidelines, which include the recommendation to continue to wear masks, engage in social distancing, and avoid sharing objects under most circumstances. These new state Universal Guidelines provide all businesses/organizations the opportunity to make their own rules about what they require.

The Parish Council has reviewed the new state guidance, statewide vaccine percentages, and related topics, and has thus established the following policies for our church:

  • If you do not feel well, are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, or are not fully vaccinated and have been exposed to a known positive case of COVID-19, please stay home and watch our services via the livestream.

  • Please continue to use good hand hygiene, cover your face with your elbow if you must cough or sneeze, and follow similar best practices.

  • Everyone is asked to please continue to wear a mask while inside the church as a courtesy to parishioners who may not yet feel comfortable being inside an enclosed space with non-household members. Wearing masks is not required, and the Parish Council will no longer be instructing people to put masks on/keep them on.

  • There is no longer a need to sign the COVID acknowledgment forms in the Narthex. If we are made aware of an outbreak at church, or another COVID-related concern, we will send a parish-wide email as necessary to inform the community, and would ask everyone to spread the word among those who may not use email.

  • Hand sanitizer will remain available, and using it is encouraged.

  • Please continue to venerate the icons at a distance without touching/kissing them.

  • We will no longer be preventing parishioners from picking up their own candles and lighting them. You are free to put your donation in the tray and take your candles.

  • We will maintain the practice of social distancing by keeping every other pew roped off, asking separate household groups/members to continue to sit 6 feet apart from each other, and asking parishioners to stand 6 feet apart from those who are not household members when in line to receive Holy Communion or Antidoron. Parish Council Members will continue to dismiss each pew one by one in an effort to maintain social distancing.

  • At the end of Liturgy, offerings will continue to be collected in a tray located at the side exits as parishioners exit the church – we still will not be passing the trays.

  • Parishioners are still asked to exit the church via the side exits at the conclusion of services, proceeding either to their cars or directly to the Fellowship Hall for outdoor fellowship.

We are aware that the CDC recently updated its guidance to say that fully vaccinated persons do not need to wear masks inside or maintain social distancing. The Parish Council feels it is prudent for us to, for the present time, maintain our COVID Policies in a more conservative manner as described above. We will continue to review vaccine percentages, these policies, as well as those of other churches/organizations, on a regular basis at our monthly meetings (and more often, if necessary), all the while doing our best to stay up to date on the changing state and federal guidance. Our end goal is to safely work toward getting back to “normal”.

Please know that these decisions were not made lightly and that it is likely impossible to set rules that would satisfy everyone. Therefore, so that we can continue to try to do our best to serve this community, please feel free to reach out to us using the contact information on the bulletin if you have feedback.

All parishioners are asked to please respect these policies and to remember that as Christians, we should be courteous to, and respectful of, others.

Thank you for your continued assistance and understanding.

Mark Cloutier +Fr. Nicholas Livingston

Parish Council President Presiding Priest



COVID-19 Vaccines

January 22, 2021

With the advent of numerous vaccines to protect against COVID-19, the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops has produced the following statement:


* * * * *


Christ “came not to heal the healthy, but the sick; not to save the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17)

As the world continues to battle COVID-19, we are ever grateful to the frontline workers – including medical professionals, emergency responders, and scientists – for their unwavering dedication to making the world a better place.

In light of the same, given our clergy and lay faithful are seeking archpastoral guidance regarding developments in medicine, such as COVID-19 vaccines and immunizations, we offer the following guidance:

Scripture encourages us to respect and protect the body as the temple of God (1 Cor. 6:19). At the same time, it discourages us from either tempting or testing the Lord (Matt. 4:7). And as your spiritual shepherds, we affirm and assure you that it is neither wrong nor sinful to seek medical attention and advice. In fact, we welcome interventions that provide us more time for spiritual renewal and repentance.

We therefore encourage all of you – the clergy and lay faithful of our Church – to consult your physicians in order to determine the appropriate course of action for you, just as you do for surgeries, medications, and vaccinations, in cancer treatments and other ailments. Indeed, while your own bishop, priest, or spiritual father remains prepared to assist you with spiritual matters, your personal doctor will guide your individual medical decisions.

We trust that whatever course of action you and your doctor decide upon will also benefit the rest of the community. If we work together – in a spirit of sincere compassion and care for one another – we will soon be able to gather together as a full community in our churches once again. We miss you very much and eagerly await the day when we can all exchange the kiss of peace in the Divine Liturgy!

Conveying our paternal blessings with love in the Lord,

Archbishop Elpidophoros, Chairman

Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

Metropolitan Joseph, Vice-Chairman

Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America

Archbishop Michael, Treasurer

Orthodox Church in America

Metropolitan Gregory, Secretary

American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese of the USA

Bishop Irinej

Serbian Orthodox Church in North, Central and South America

Metropolitan Nicolae

Romanian Orthodox Metropolia of the Americas

Metropolitan Joseph

Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Diocese of the USA, Canada, and Australia

Bishop Saba

Georgian Apostolic Orthodox Church in North America

Metropolitan Tikhon

Orthodox Church in America

Source: https://www.assemblyofbishops.org/news/2021/statement-regarding-developments-in-medicine-covid-19-vaccines-and-immunizations

COVID-19 Safety Procedures

November 7, 2020

November 7, 2020

Beloved in the Lord,

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to present us with many challenges. As a parish community, we want all to attend and participate in the services of our Church as fully and as safely as possible. The following are a list of safety reminders and procedures for the safe operation of our St. Philip community. Please review them closely, as some procedures have changed. We thank you for your patience, your support, and your cooperation with these guidelines.

We wish to encourage all who are in a vulnerable population as defined by the CDC, especially the elderly and those with underlying health conditions, to continue participating in Church services from your home via our YouTube channel. Additionally, regular weekday services will be scheduled to allow those at higher risk the opportunity to worship and receive Holy Communion in a safer environment.


CHURCH SAFETY GUIDELINES

In compliance with the state of New Hampshire and the Metropolis of Boston, we can accommodate up to 50% attendance in the Sanctuary. In the event that capacity is exceeded, our ushers will direct you to the gymnasium where additional seating and a live stream of the service will be set up. A minimum distance of 6 feet between people must be maintained at all times.

ENTRANCE

  • When entering the Church, please wait to be checked in by an usher. The usher will assist you in completing a short contact tracing form and take your temperature. Those with a temperature reading below 100.4 F will be admitted into the Church.

  • Face masks covering the nose and mouth must be worn by all people entering the church. Please note: single-use surgical masks must be discarded after each use. Cloth masks must be washed following every use.

  • After sanitizing your hands, you will be escorted to a seat by an usher.

SEATING

  • Ushers will seat parishioners from the front of the church to the back. Please note that you will not be able to select your own seat.

  • We ask for your cooperation with the ushers as they direct you to the next available seat. People who are not of the same immediate household will be seated 6 feet apart. In order to ensure your family will be seated together, you must arrive together.

MOVEMENT & CONTACT

  • Please refrain from hugging, handshaking, or kissing one another, including kissing of the icons, the cross, the kiss of peace, the Holy Gospel, or the priest’s hands. To venerate the gospel, cross, or an icon, please bow your head reverently and make the sign of the cross.

  • When instructed by the ushers to proceed to receive Holy Communion or Antidoron, please follow the floor markings to maintain a safe distance of at least 6 feet between yourself and others.

  • Candles can be purchased in the Narthex, but no change can be given. You may light your own candle or have an usher light it for you.

  • Liturgy books have been removed from the pews. Please feel free to bring your own from home, utilize a digital resource, or call the office for help purchasing a book.

HOLY COMMUNION

  • Parishioners are asked to follow the directions of the ushers, and proceed down the center aisle with their mask on, utilizing the floor markers to remain 6 feet apart from the next person.

  • We ask that you lower your mask at the moment of receiving, then replace your mask immediately after receiving.

  • Please tilt your head back, open your mouth wide, and Holy Communion will be placed into your mouth.

DISMISSAL

  • Parishioners are asked to follow the directions of the ushers, and proceed down the center aisle. Fr Nicholas will distribute Antidoron using tongs.

  • Parishioners are asked to exit the church using the side door on the left of the church.

WEEKDAY INFORMATION

  • Please remember that the church building and office is open by appointment only during this time. Both Fr Nicholas and our office staff are readily available to assist you, but we request that you make an appointment, either by phone or email.

These guidelines have been developed in compliance with state and local mandates, the guidance of the Metropolis of Boston, our Parish Council, and the support of medical personnel in our community. We thank you for your cooperation and adherence to these procedures in order to keep all members of our community safe.

We look forward to the day coming soon when we can all physically come back together. In the meantime, we continue to lift each other up in prayer, with one voice and one heart as we praise and glorify our great and most high God.

With love in Christ,


Rev. Fr. Nicholas Livingston Thanasi C Liakos

Priest Parish Council President