Due to the sharp rise in the COVID-19 infection rate across our state, and the Governor’s mandate to move back to modified Phase II, the following enhanced procedures will be in effect until further notice.
1.Masks must be worn properly at all times for any congregational gathering. Those unable to wear a mask are to be directed to online worship.
2.Physical distancing of at least six feet is required. Each congregation must ensure that physical distance be maintained by marking off spaces accordingly. Those living under the same roof are exempted.
3. Previous sanitation measures remain in place for the building.
4.Sanitation practices for clergy leading services remain in place. Hand sanitizer should be made available in multiple, strategic locations for the attending congregation as well.
5.No singing is allowed by soloists, choirs, ensembles, or congregations. While wind instruments are not allowed, other instrumental music or recorded music is encouraged.
6.Communion is to be distributed in one kind only. The priest is to drop the host into the worshippers’ hand without making contact. Reverting to Morning Prayer is acceptable for the principal Sunday service.
7.Preachers will now continue to wear masks during the sermon. As has been the case all along, celebrants remain masked throughout. Deacons and lectors must also remain masked during reading of scripture or prayers.
8.Fellowship gatherings may not include food and drink. Masks and physical distancing are required.
9.Maximum attendance at any event is 50% of the building’s capacity or less if physical distancing requires it.
10.Church staffs should work from home whenever possible.
None of us enjoys following these restrictions and mitigation measures. We do so not because we fear infection or our own death. Instead, we employ them out of love for our neighbor. Acting together we can slow the spread of this virus and save lives especially of the most vulnerable in our midst.
Please note that the present surge matches our steepest climb in infections. This time, however, the other states are facing an analogous situation. We cannot look to them for additional medical help this time around. Additionally, we are now in the midst of flu season. Our hospitals are not at full capacity, but they are already seriously stressed.
My love and my prayers are with you. Even under such difficult circumstances I give thanks daily for the gift of serving as your bishop. Advent begins this Sunday. And the message of those readings is especially appropriate now. Stay alert. Look for God. For surely Christ is in our midst.