Parish Covid-19 Update (2/10/2021)

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Greetings in the Name of the Lord.

I'm writing to update you all regarding our parish's current COVID policies.

Today, February 10th, 2021, the officers of our parish COVID Response Committee met.

We discussed the recent Supreme Court decision which prohibited the State of California from enforcing its ban on indoor worship in “purple” tier counties (which Ventura County is currently still in). In short, our churches may open to in-person worship with up to 25% capacity, provided the proper procedures and protocols are in place.

After prayerful consideration and discussion, the COVID Committee Officers, and with my pastoral endorsement, agree that even though we are given the legal “go ahead” to offer services inside, we will continue offering Sunday services outdoors, while optimistically monitoring all new data as it becomes available.

However, we do feel comfortable with offering WEEKDAY services inside, as they have less attendance. Current protocols will remain in place. Namely, masks, social distancing, temperature checks, and questionnaire completion. Of course, we will still be offering all of our divine services via live-stream on our normal platforms.

As always, your church is here for you. Should you wish to contact me with questions, concerns, or for counseling or visitations, please do not hesitate to reach out to me.

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Romans 5:3-5 ESV

Parish Covid-19 Update (12/17/2020)

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Following is an email update from Fr. Gary and your St. Demetrios Covid Response Team (Michael Metropoulos- Chairman, Dr. Bob Gonzalez, and Mandee Sanderson, PC President)

Since December 5, 2020, Ventura County has been under a Stay-At-Home Order from the State of California’s Public Health Department. This order requires 100% masking, social distancing (6 feet) and hand washing or hand sanitizer on arrival to church. It prohibits our Church from holding indoor services.

Our only options are Outdoor services or Internet only services. We will always favor holding Outdoor Services. Weather may, at times, represent a challenge, so we encourage you to bring coats and blankets for your comfort.

On Sunday, December 6, 2020, a potential Covid-19 exposure occurred at the St. Demetrios Liturgy and General Assembly Meeting. Late on the following Tuesday (12/8/20), an attendee developed fatigue and aching. On the following day, Wednesday (12/9/20), this individual was tested, and results returned positive for Covid-19 infection on Friday (12/11/20)

This person had no symptoms of Covid-19 infection at the time of services and underwent our screening process which included the documentation of a normal temperature. During services, our parishioner maintained social distancing and wore a mask the entire time. The person did not receive Communion. Parishioners who were present at the December 6th services were called and informed of the potential exposure by Fr. Gary and a member of our Committee on Friday, 12/11/20.

Dr. Bob Gonzalez, as our Parish Health Officer, contacted the Ventura County Public Health Department’s Physician Covid Consultation Line. A doctor-to-doctor discussion took place, and our Covid-19 exposure was deemed low risk. The following are important facts and directions from the Public Health Department:

  1. Low risk does not mean no risk. If you develop symptoms of Covid-19, you should contact your doctor and be tested. We will attach a list of Covid-19 symptoms for you to monitor.
  2. If you develop symptoms, you should self-quarantine until you receive a negative Covid-19 test
  3. Attendees of the Diving Liturgy and General Assembly do not need to be tested unless they develop symptoms
  4. Everyone should continue to wear an approved mask, maintain 6 feet of social distancing and use hand sanitizer or wash your hands on arrival to Church

Please notify Fr. Gary if you develop symptoms.

We have worked hard to ensure everyone’s safety but sometimes things happen which cannot be predicted. Under Fr. Gary’s leadership, the Covid Response Team has made the following interventions:

  • Parking Lot reconfiguration to ensure appropriate distancing
  • Symptom screening and temperature checks at cars prior to seating under arbor
  • Physical distancing guidelines and seating
  • Control of elevator and bathroom use to prevent crowding
  • Adoption of no touch Communion
  • Individual microphone use
  • Suspension of choir worship
  • Suspension of Coffee Hour
  • Cleaning and disinfection protocols consistent with State Guidelines were implemented
  • Reservation system utilization

We all look forward to a return to normalcy. In the meantime, please work with us to ensure the safety of those most vulnerable. Stay home if you feel ill. Be patient as we go through our screening process and most of all wear proper masks, maintain social distancing and use hand sanitizer upon arriving at Church.

Here are the symptoms of Covid-19. A person should watch for these symptoms and if they occur, consider being tested for Covid-19 viral exposure.

People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

This list does not include all possible symptoms. CDC will continue to update this list as we learn more about COVID-19.

Thank you

COVID Forces Closure Update as of July 14

on . Posted in Church to Reopen

Greetings,

We hope and pray that you are well.

As a direct result of Governor Newsome’s policy issued just this week, V. Rev. Fr. John Constantine, the Chancellor of our Metropolis has informed us that once again churches in California are to close effective immediately and return to the procedures followed at the beginning of the stay-at-home orders in the early days of the pandemic.

We are, once again, prohibited from gathering inside the Church. Please stay home and safe on Sunday July 19, and join in prayer, by visiting our online broadcast.

Regrettably all reservations through Sign-Up Genius are now suspended. The authorized team members inside the Church will be:

  1. The Priest (Fr. Gary)
  2. Chanter (Christie)
  3. Altar Assistant (Bill)
  4. Narthex usher (Sophia)
  • Each of these individuals are from the same households, which limits exposure rates.

We will evaluate and share information as things progress.

On Behalf of our Re-Opening Committee, and your Parish Council,

In Christ's Service,
Fr. Gary

Open For Services!

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Fellow Parishioners,

The ReOpening Committee of St. Demetrios has been working diligently to carefully reopen our doors while implementing the prescribed measures to safely maintain the physical and spiritual well-being of our Parish family.  We are following the regulatory guidelines provided by the State of California, Ventura County, and our Greek Orthodox Metropolis of San Francisco.

We ask for your patience, support and understanding as fully reopening the parish will require a “phased-in” approach.  Please allow us to carefully progress through the necessary steps and procedures to ensure everyone’s safety.

Please understand, church services will be slightly different as we re-open. Social distancing will always be practiced inside and outside our church and a mask must always be worn while at St. Demetrios.  Our church website has been updated with the necessary guidance to raise everyone’s awareness. Please carefully review these procedures and guidelines prior to attending services as they are in effect to protect one another.

Some of the noticeable administrative and social distancing changes to create a safe environment are noted below:

  1. First and foremost, consider you and your family’s immediate health prior to departing your home for church.
    • Parishioners who are at higher risk to COVID-19 are strongly encouraged to stay home and continue participating in the online live-streaming. Those that are 65 years or older, have underlying medical conditions, been exposed to the virus, experiencing symptoms, or if you have young infants, toddlers, or care for elderly parents are to consider staying home.
  2. Reservations must be made and confirmed before attending.  Anticipate a limited number of parishioners, as seating will be assigned, and staggered within the pews following the 6 feet distancing.  Make your reservation here:  https://www.signupgenius.com/go/10c0a4aacac2fa4f58-june
  3. Plan on arriving 30-40 minutes early (9:15am) and waiting in your car until an Usher flags you to proceed.
    • Light screening will take place
  4. Masks to be worn at all times.  Please bring your own (if you can), as supplies are limited.
  5. The elevator, stairs and the entire upstairs area will be closed and cannot be used.
  6. Downstairs restroom use is limited to one person at a time, and must be sanitized after each use.
  7. Candles, collection tray and other donations can be made on our website.  Change for cash donations will not be available.  There will be no exchange of cash.  Please be prepared to deposit that which you would like to offer.
  8. A short video announcement has been made.  Please take a moment to watch it here.  REOPENING VIDEO

Additionally, noticeable liturgical changes are:

  1. Fr. Gary and our chanter will celebrate the service without a mask.  For their safety we remind you of the urgency to wear a mask at all times.
  2. Communion will be administered following the guideline of our Metropolis:
    • The priest will wear a mask while administering Communion.  You will briefly remove your mask, open and keep your mouth open, with your head tilted back so that the Holy Body and Blood can be poured in your mouth.  Please do not close your mouth on the spoon.
    • Should you need to wipe your lips after receiving, disposable napkins will be available.  Please wipe and return the napkin so that it can be reverently disposed.
    • Andidoron will be offered only at the end of Service when exiting the church.
  3. Regrettably, congregation and fellowship, cannot take place inside or outside the church afterwards, we ask instead, you please proceed to your cars.

With the Love of Christ,
The St. Demetrios Re-Opening Committee

Church to Reopen, but NOT TOMORROW

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Dear St Demetrios Parish Family,

Christ is Risen!

We hope and pray that this message finds you well during this critical time.

It brought great joy to hear our President fervently declare churches "essential" this past week. While we are all excited to see our Church reopen, we must follow the guidelines, recommendations and procedures set forth, by not only our State and County, but of the Metropolis of San Francisco. Our Metropolis has made their opening expectations very clear. They have provided a "Readiness Checklist" and have asked each Parish to create a committee to administer all procedures to receive approval for reopening.

ST. DEMETRIOS WILL NOT BE OPEN TOMORROW, Sunday, May 24, 2020. As of right now, we are not permitted to re-open the church for services. This is for the protection of the health and welfare of all parishioners, including and especially our elderly or immunocompromised brethren.

We will, of course, keep you informed as circumstances change, and hope to gather soon. But, as of now, St. Demetrios remains closed. The Church will continue to operate as we have been for the last several weeks. Please continue to pray with us and view the services online by visiting our website, www.saintdem.org.

When time finally does come to re-open, we will be asking for volunteers between the ages of 18 and 30 (without care-giving responsibilities or compromised health) to volunteer and assist in the process. If you have an interest in helping, please contact the church or Mike Metropoulos at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Stay safe and healthy and may God continue to Bless you and all of us at St. Demetrios.

With God’s Love,
Fr. Gary Kyriacou, Priest
Joanne Knauss, Parish Council President

Restoring Parish Life - Important Message from Metropolitan Gerasimos

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Restoring Parish Life from Greek Orthodox Metropolis of SF on Vimeo.

My beloved Brothers and Sisters in the Lord,

Χριστὸς Ἀνέστη! Christ is Risen!

Though we have been isolated from one another over the past months, we have always remained connected to Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We have experienced Christ in new ways and created opportunities to worship from our homes. Through various technological tools, we have been able to support one another from afar, yet still experience the closeness of our church family.

After many prayers and much patience, and in accordance with the recent Communique from the Holy Eparchial Synod of the Archdiocese, each Metropolitan has been given the responsibility to prepare for a return to our beloved churches, while abiding by state and federal guidelines. I cannot begin to express to you how saddening these past few months have been for the clergy within our Metropolis. Our hearts and souls ache due to the physical separation from the loving people of God with whom we pray at our Divine services. I have also heard the pain in your voices and I have read your messages, knowing that you share these feelings as you have been separated not only from one another, but especially from the Holy Eucharist.

We rejoice that a glimmer of hope is beginning to appear, so it is incumbent on us to prepare for a transition back to parish life. As municipalities are beginning to lift restrictions, our parishes will soon be able to worship together once more. Depending on state regulations, attendance at the Divine Liturgy will be restricted. Some localities, unfortunately, will continue to prohibit gatherings of more than a handful for church services due to ongoing health concerns, so those parishes must continue worshipping from afar. My prayer is that as soon as a parish is able to resume services, it will have been thoroughly prepared, with a plan ready in place, and thus will be able to quickly and effectively return to worship, in compliance with local guidelines.

Our Metropolis has prepared a detailed Readiness Guide that each parish must follow. This is being done both for the protection of the parish and also for the faithful. While the Church surroundings will be familiar, our behavior during worship and our interaction with others will be different.

How is the Metropolis Preparing for Our Return?

  • The Metropolis Clergy and Parish Council leadership have met several times to discuss the necessary steps to safely reopen our churches.
  • Each parish is following stringent protocols for preparation. This includes direct contact with local authorities, adherence to directives from the CDC, and full compliance with the Metropolis Readiness Guide for the Reopening of our parishes.
  • Once the required preparations are complete, each parish must submit a signed document affirming their compliance which will be submitted to their respective Vicar for final approval to open the parish for services.
  • Parishes will continue to accommodate those who are unable to attend church through the continuation of live-streamed services.

How Should I Prepare?

  • Be patient! We want you to return, but we want it to be accomplished in a safe and organized manner.
  • Those who have pre-existing health conditions and those who are over 65 are requested not to attend services.
  • If you are exhibiting any signs of illness, even symptoms not related to COVID-19, we ask that, for your own safety and those around you, please do not attend services.
  • If you do not have a mask, please obtain one. This will be necessary for you to wear when inside the church. If you arrive without one, the parish will provide one.
  • Please bring hand sanitizer with you. There will also be hand sanitizer available in the Narthex to use upon your arrival to church.

What Should I Expect When I Come to Church?

  • Attendance will be limited, based on the seating capacity of the church, per the guidelines of local authorities.
  • Each parish will determine an appropriate sign-up procedure to strictly adhere to attendance guidelines.
  • Only the main doors of the church will be open. Side doors and back entrances will be closed so that attendance and safety practices are carefully followed.
  • Masks are to be worn by parishioners during church services. Parental supervision is required for children over the age of 3 who are wearing masks. Children under the age of 2 are exempt from wearing masks.
  • Your attendance will be recorded, including your current phone number, so that should contact tracing be necessary, the parish will have a clear record of who was present for each service.
  • You may venerate icons by bowing, but kissing or touching are prohibited.
  • Parish bulletins will only be distributed electronically.

What Should I Expect When I am in Church?

  • Please understand that due to occupancy limitations and social distancing, seating will be clearly marked and carefully monitored.
  • An usher will direct you to a seat in the church. Most likely, this will not be the pew where you usually sit. Please do not move to a different seat.
  • There will be specific directions and floor markings for safely entering and exiting the church to maintain social distancing.
  • Up to two adult altar servers may assist the priest. No altar servers under the age of 18 are permitted.
  • Choirs may not resume at the present time. A single chanter may lead the hymns and responses, and a second chanter is also permitted provided they stand on opposite sides of the Solea. All chanters must be over the age of 18.
  • Families who live together will be seated together. Relatives who do not reside in your immediate household will be seated separately.
  • Liturgical books are not permitted in the pews. Online resources are available for you to follow the services.
  • Please follow the markings for proper spacing to approach for Holy Communion.
  • Antidoron will be distributed at the end of the Liturgy by the priest, following strict protocols.
  • Please refrain from kissing the hand of the priest.
  • When the service has concluded, please promptly follow the directional signage to exit the church safely.
  • Parishioners are kindly requested not to linger on the church property. No social gatherings or coffee fellowship are permitted.
  • After each service, the church will be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized.
  • Parish priests, in consultation with their lay leadership, will endeavor to offer additional Divine Services to accommodate parishioners.

This information and more are included in Readiness Guide that the Metropolis has prepared for the benefit of our parishes and faithful. Every parish is presently working through the Guide to re-engage our congregations while being vigilant for the safety and protection of all. This must be of paramount importance. We will only restore parish life when the parish is prepared and ready. We will also be especially mindful of these regulations for the protection of those members of our congregations who are most vulnerable.

This will not happen overnight. I ask for your ongoing patience and understanding. As restrictions continue to be lessened, parish life will expand appropriately. The transition back to a fully opened parish will take time, and there may be challenges along the way, but we must persevere with faith, knowing that “with God, all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26b).

Amidst the joyful preparation for returning to parish life, we must not forget the souls of all those who have lost their lives to this terrible pandemic, as well as all of those who continue to suffer from its ravages. The medical workers, first responders and researchers should also be at the forefront of our prayers as they risk their lives to save others and to find a cure for this disease.

Praying that the Resurrected Christ may be your constant guide and fervent protector, I remain,

With Love in the Risen Lord,
+Metropolitan Gerasimos of San Francisco

Message from Fr. Constantine

Fr. Constantine

Dearly Beloved in the Lord,

Rejoice!


It is with deep joy that I write to you. Though we continue our isolation and separateness in the midst of the pandemic, I rejoice that we have such ample opportunity to call out to Christ for His Mercy and Love: "Through the cross, joy has come to the whole world" (Sunday Matins/Orthros). But how can anyone speak this way without sounding callous or inconsiderate? "What?!" How dare he say to rejoice! I've been home for nearly a year; lonely, depressed, and mentally stagnating. How can I possibly rejoice?"


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