Thursday, July 9, 2020

Updated Policy and Procedure for Gathering During the Pandemic

Updated Policy and Procedure for Gathering During the Pandemic

An Important Message From Bishop Owensby:

Dear Friends,

I pray that you and yours are well. These are trying times, and I appreciate your calm, faithful leadership. As you know, the pandemic continues to change local circumstances, and prudence requires that we respond sensibly as needed.

In his briefing today Governor Edwards reported that, with respect to the spread of the virus in our state, we have lost all the gains we had made in May. Infection and hospital rates are climbing to new heights. Now this spread is no longer contained within hot spots like Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Instead, the entire state is experiencing an increase in infection and hospitalization numbers.

Accordingly, I am now reiterating and amplifying my current requirements in the following manner.

1. All previously published requirements for gatherings for worship or any other purpose as a congregation remain firmly in effect. This includes mandates regarding social distancing, the wearing of masks, the limits on attendance numbers, sanitation, and the like. Singing continues to be forbidden. For clergy these policies are a mandatory pastoral direction.

2. Given the increased incidence of infection, I strongly urge that all worship or other gatherings be outside or virtual. If your congregation is unable to provide virtual worship, please send members to my FB Morning Prayer (Sunday, 10:00 a.m. CDT or the saved video at a later time). I will continue to offer weekly worship as long as we are in pandemic conditions.

3. The safest form of worship during a time of increased contagion is Morning Prayer. Accordingly, I urge you to revert to Morning Prayer until we see significant improvement in the rate of infection.

Neither #2 nor #3 are requirements at this stage. However, I will continue to monitor the metrics and will issue revised policies as needed.

Remember, we take these measures to protect the most vulnerable among us and to flatten the curve of infection so as not to overwhelm our medical facilities while we develop, mass produce, and administer a vaccine. The vaccination process will take time.

You all remain in my prayers. And to my delight and surprise, we are seeing a significant rise in the numbers of those seeking worship and learning opportunities because of our new virtual ministries. The love of Jesus finds a way!

Stay safe. Be well. And remember that you are loved.