Dear Friends In Christ:
This week I convened a small task force of clergy, lay leaders, and scientists to discuss the latest COVID-19 protocols, and the implications of the plans to lift mask restrictions in the State of California. 

A challenge we face as a diocese is the vast diversity in the sizes and locations of our parishes. Our diocese is comprised of 64 churches in 22 counties, and one single strategy for regathering is impractical for the entire diocese. 

As we emerge from the pandemic, we must recognize that COVID-19 is here to stay. It will not cease with the lifting of the masking restrictions. We find ourselves in the same uncharted waters with churches, businesses, schools, and other institutions to reopen safely.

I recommend a phased approach for all parishes, beginning with the summer months. I anticipate things will continue to improve, and will continue to meet with the taskforce to seek their guidance.

I know this is a difficult time for all, and I pray that, with continued diligence, we will emerge from the pandemic even stronger. Thank you for your hard work and perseverance in this most trying of times.
Regathering guidelines Iā€™d like our parishes to consider for the next few months:

  • First and foremost, we will protect the vulnerable among us. We have done this by maintaining COVID-19 safety protocols, eliminating use of the common cup, developing on-line worship resources, and limiting singing indoors.

  • We, in our congregations, stand ready to welcome guests and visitors to our worship services and recognize that their vaccination status may be unknown to us 

  • Review the ventilation systems in church buildings. Research shows that one of the most effective means of reducing transmission is to ensure efficient air circulation indoors

Worship 

  • The use of the common cup for Eucharist is suspended for the time being. Use of small, individual cups is discouraged as it diminishes the theological message of unity demonstrated in the use of a common cup

  • Congregational Singing indoors is not recommended. A choir that is fully vaccinated, and masked may sing at an indoor service

  • Use of Hymnals, Prayer books and Bulletins may resume. Science has shown that the primary conveyer of the disease is in aerosols and not by touch

Vaccinations

  • We believe in the efficacy of vaccinations. Science has shown that the three vaccines available are effective in reducing the spread and severity of the COVID-19 virus

  • We recommend that all persons than can get vaccinated should do so. As vaccination rates increase, there will be fewer vulnerable persons, however, it is likely to be several months until all children can be vaccinated

  • We do not recommend asking vaccination status for access to worship

  • All worship leaders should be vaccinated. This includes clergy, acolytes, Lay Eucharistic Ministers/Visitors, musicians, and lay readers 

  • Consider conducting an anonymous survey to determine vaccination rates for regathering plans

Resources
  • Keep up to date on local infection rates and public health guidelines