As many have heard, the Mayors of the Counties of Kauaʻi and Honolulu have issued guidelines allowing for in-person public worship with social distancing and masks beginning this weekend (Sunday, May 24, 2020). The Mayor of Maui has reportedly said worship can begin again on May 31. The Mayor of Hawaiʻi currently has no plans to allow public worship. We must keep listening to the Governor and the Mayors.
What does that mean for Episcopalians? I have asked that no public worship begin until, at the earliest, one full week after the new guidelines take effect in each County. So, in Kauaʻi and Honolulu Counties, the earliest day of in-person public worship will begin in Episcopal churches on May 31, and for Maui County, on June 7. This is provided that the congregation can meet the CDC, State, County and Diocesan guidelines for reopening. The Clergy-in-Charge (and Senior/Bishop’s Warden where there is no priest) have received and reviewed the Diocesan document “Customary in the Time of Pandemic.”
In the end, when your congregation will again have in-person public worship will depend on the plan of action prepared by your congregation’s leaders (Clergy, Wardens and Vestry/Bishop’s Committee). I will trust and support the final decision of the Priest-in-Charge (or Senior/Bishop’s Warden in churches with no settled Priest) about when to open for in-person public worship with social distancing, masks, and the other requirements of the civil authorities and the Diocese. Please wait to hear from your congregation’s leaders about the plan for your local church.
We don’t need to be in a hurry. Some congregations may need more time to return to in-person public worship. We need to care for one another as we enter into our new reality. We will try new things. I trust you, God’s people, to be patient and adaptable. I have confidence that we can find our way.
Our watchword as a Diocese in this interesting time is “mercy.” We are called to live into God’s mercy being compassionate, patient and joyful. As we are reminded in 1 Peter 2:10: “Once you weren’t a people, but now you are God’s people. Once you hadn’t received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
Your servant in Christ Jesus,