On any other normal Sunday at St. Phillips Episcopal Church in Jackson, the church would be filled with parishioners in the Pews and in the courtyard for weekly service. However, today is not a normal day for this parish or any parish across Mississippi. For the past several months, many churches across the state, including St. Phillips have gone completely virtual, with live streams replacing the weekly worshiping.
Kyle Seage, rector of St. Phillips Church had to make the hard decision to suspend in person services at first. However, until recently they have finally started to allow a few parishioners inside for worship, but most go to the Facebook live streams.
“This coming Sunday,” Seage said, “we’ll probably do 35 people. That means everyone has to be six feet apart unless you live with someone, everyone has to be masked, when you take communion you only receive bread, you don’t receive the wine, and at the end of the service we are dismissed row by row”.
As the rector of the parish, Seage finds her biggest challenge to be forming emotional connections with her parishioners while still being socially distanced.
“Well, the biggest challenge is emotional, obviously, because I haven’t seen anyone. I haven’t seen 25 people at a time without masks since last march. As the rector, everyone emotionally is missing each other and that’s the biggest challenge”.
Throughout all these setbacks, however, Seage is still very optimistic about the parish being able to worship together soon, all in person.
“I want to go back in person. However, even when vaccinated, my parishioners realize that, and I, that we will continue to wear masks and be socially distanced and to observe all of the safety regulations that happened before we were vaccinated. It’s still very unknown”.
Featured in video: Kyle Seage
Narrated and filmed by: Elisabeth Seage
Edited by: Elisabeth Seage