Initial Guidance about Worship and Church Activity in Phase III (Green)
For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it? (Luke 14:28)
Although we have not yet entered Phase II (Yellow) it is important to plan ahead. Many clergy and vestries are trying to think about and prepare for life in the next Phase. What follows is my initial guidance for worship and activity in our Diocese under Phase III.
We have taken our direction from the
. Unfortunately, at this time there is little information specific to churches. Nor do we know exactly how the CDC and DOH guidelines we have been functioning under may change in the future. In terms of our own methodology, protecting health and safety continues to be the highest priority. Therefore, even when our region moves to Phase III, our diocese will not move to loosen Phase II restrictions until I am convinced it is reasonable and prudent to do so.
It is critical to understand that Phase III is not the lifting of all restrictions but just the next step in our path to recovery. While many restrictions will be loosened, you should expect that church life will still look and feel very different. Here is what we can project:
- The number of people present for worship or activity may increase to up to 50% of the building’s or room’s capacity. However, everyone must also follow the physical distancing guidelines previously articulated in The Plan. This may further reduce maximum allowable attendance.
- Everyone must still follow CDC guidelines including use of masks, avoidance of physical contact, use of handwashing and sanitizer, etc..
- When possible, church employees should continue to work from home.
- While in-person meetings are permitted under Phase II, it is recommended that whenever possible, you consider making use of technology to allow people to attend virtually.
- While more people will be allowed to attend in-person worship, it is strongly recommended that, whenever possible, you continue offering worship via streaming or recording as well to accommodate those who do not yet feel safe.
We do not yet have enough information to be able to offer guidance or instruction on many areas of church life and worship including the following:
- Sunday School and other church sponsored children and youth ministries.
- The reintroduction of congregational singing.
- The presence of food and drink at fellowship events.
- Whether or not wine can be offered in addition to the host.
- The reintroduction of prayer books and hymnals.
We will continue to gather reliable information and prayerfully work together to create a more detailed protocol for Phase three as quickly as possible. In the meantime, please continue to bring your questions to me, to Canon Wamsley or Canon Berlenbach.
You remain in my prayers daily and I give thanks for your ministry and faithfulness.