My Dear Brothers and Sisters,
This morning I sent out a letter advising all churches that with rising COVID levels we would now return to our summer restrictions on public worship which limited gatherings in the church to ten people. Over the remainder of the day I have heard from a fair number of you calling that decision into question, and I want you to know that I have listened. And I have been persuaded. I believe that I was premature. I based my decision on the fact that parts of our diocese are already in the orange COVID level, infection levels are relatively low but are clearly rising, and on the decisions made in some other dioceses in our “neighborhood.” However, at this time, I am now convinced, this was too stringent a limitation to be imposed on most of our churches in much of our diocese.
So I will ask instead that each parish take responsibility for the benchmarks for limiting their own attendance at worship. Monitor the infection levels in your community every day. If you are in a community with an infection level above 4%, or if your area has been designated yellow or orange, you should adopt some practice of limited attendance. But for the time being I will refrain from a diocese-wide policy, and I will hold this morning’s policy announcement in abeyance until we live more fully into the COVID surge. I apologize for contributing to the confusion we are all living with.
In all cases, when funerals have been scheduled and planned before the adoption of attendance limitations, those services should proceed as planned. In addition, all outreach ministries and food distribution ministries should continue throughout the pandemic. In everything we do, the protocols established back in the spring, and which have served us well and kept us safe, are to be carefully observed. With every good wish, I remain