For years, the Harcourt Parish Episcopal Church has hosted Mass on the Grass during the summer and moved service inside the church once classes resume. But since COVID-19 regulations have restricted indoor gatherings, Mass on the Grass has continued into the fall semester.
The outdoor services take place in front of the Church of the Holy Spirit on the first and third Sundays of the month and will continue through October, weather permitting. After Nov. 1, however, Harcourt will hold services indoors, capped at 10 people, as well as online. The Church hopes to resume Mass on the Grass again in March when the weather warms.
Kenyon College Chaplain and Priest-in-charge of Harcourt Parish Rachel Kessler ’04 is pleased with the continuation of Mass on the Grass. She explained that since “many parts of our tradition are physical, such as Communion … it has given us a chance to be physically present with each other while worshipping.”
COVID-19 regulations have added restrictions to the outdoor services, including mandatory mask wearing and limiting the number of attendees to under 25. Attendees are also not able to sing during service or drink wine during Communion.
Despite these limitations, Kessler has not defined Mass on the Grass as an obstacle. Instead, she said, “it has provided us with a way to meet some of the challenges being presented by COVID-19 by offering us a solution other than online services.”
Since the Church has held the event during the summers, they were already prepared to host mass outside. Additionally, Kessler has enjoyed the new experience that Mass on the Grass has provided for the community and the opportunity to be outside during services. “I ask myself, why didn’t we do this before?” she said.