Return to Virtual-Only Worship Due to Infection Rise
Thursday, November 19, 2020
Dear Parish Family,
On Thursday, all parishes in the diocese received guidance from the Return, Re-open, and Reimagine Committee of the Diocese regarding the recent spike in Covid-19 infections. The guidance (here) was that churches should strongly consider returning to virtual worship anytime that Covid cases exceed 25/100,000. The committee noted that as of today, 19 of the 21 counties in NJ exceed this threshold. Currently Gloucester County is at 47.7/100,000 with regard to infection rates. This places us as the sixth highest county in New Jersey.
Today, I joined Bp. Stokes and other clergy on a clergy town hall. On that call, he noted that several diocese are closing this week (most recently Rochester, NY and Central PA). It was also reported that there have been no known transmissions in the diocese but that there have been 21 cases of Covid exposure within the diocese (where someone came to church and it was later learned that they were infected). These incidents of exposure are escalating, with seven in just that last week.
The vestry voted on Monday to empower the wardens and clergy to determine if circumstances require moving to virtual worship. Following the today's Town Hall and letter, Tom, Bob, and I met by phone. Upon review, we unanimously determined that we need to return to virtual worship for the foreseeable future. This decision will carry us up to Christmas Eve. The vestry will vote on 12/14 to decide if Christmas Eve will be virtual as well.
While we are virtual, worship will continue from the Trinity sanctuary. You may connect by zoom, Facebook, or YouTube. in short, the buildings may be closed, but the church can still worship.
Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns. Please stay safe as cases escalate in our area. Faithfully, Greg+