Friday, May 14, 2021
Yesterday’s CDC announcement comes as a
relief to many of us. With a few exceptions, fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks or
maintain social distance outdoors or indoors. The few exceptions outlined by the CDC do not include
Accordingly, masks and social distancing
are no longer required for those who are fully vaccinated in worship, study, or fellowship settings in
our congregations. Those who are not yet vaccinated should continue wearing masks and observing
social distancing for their own protection and to prevent infecting other unvaccinated persons. Congregations
will not verify anyone’s vaccination status.
Because many of our young people have only
recently been given access to the vaccine, I am implementing interim measures to continue
to protect them until full vaccination could reasonably have been achieved. Independence Day will mark
our pivot to the full lifting of pandemic restrictions barring unforeseen setbacks. Below is an outline
of these interim guidelines.
For the Holy Eucharist: We may now return to the altar rail to receive communion. We
will receive the wine by intinction until Independence Day.
A customary passing of the Peace will resume on Independence Day.
Sanitation: Return now to normal sanitation
practices and keep hand sanitizer available. Surfaces have not been shown to spread the virus.
Social Gatherings: Coffee hour and receptions may now
resume indoors and out. Potluck meals and other gatherings with a sit-down meal will
resume on Independence Day.
Children’s and Youth Christian Formation: For now follow the guidance provided
by the state for schools when inside and outside.
Singing: For the fully vaccinated,
congregational and choral singing without masks and distancing is allowed. Others should wear masks and
observe distance until Independence Day.
As always, local variations are
permissible. Each congregation exists in its own ministry context. Depending upon local conditions and the
health of those involved, clergy and lay leadership may require continued mask wearing and social
We are aiming for Independence Day as our
Pivot Day to the new normal. Unforeseen developments can change this, but optimism is called for.
We have learned much about building virtual community, discovered new ministries, and recognized
that some ministries have run their course. Now it’s time to apply this learning to plans for Rally Day
as well as for a full Program and Liturgical Year.
Faithfully in Christ,
The Rt. Rev. Jacob W. Owensby, PhD, DD IV Bishop of Western Louisiana
Note: Per the above guidelines, we will no longer require social distancing or masks for anyone fully vaccinated. All those who are not fully vaccinated should continue to wear masks, and social distance for their own safety and the safety of others.