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COVID-19 Update: October 14, 2020

To the Diocesan Family,

On May 20, 2020, the Diocese provided guidelines for the resumption of in-person Morning Prayer being mindful of the health and safety of others.  Some churches began offering Morning Prayer in June.  Several weeks ago, congregations had the ability to provide the Eucharist in one kind (bread only) if it was distributed and consumed outdoors.  As of this date, 21 of our 29 faith communities have submitted written plans for in-person worship.  I would like to thank the lay and clergy leaders who have maintained a safe environment in their buildings since the pandemic began.

I never imagined that we would still be dealing with COVID-19 in October.  This memo summarizes prior directives and provides additional guidance regarding the distribution of Eucharist inside our buildings, other indoor gatherings and congregational singing.

EACH FAITH COMMUNITY WILL BE ASKED TO COMPLY WITH THE FOLLOWING:
• Indoor worship with Eucharist in one kind (bread only) may begin no earlier than October 18, 2020, as well as distribution of the Eucharist during emergency pastoral visits.
• If your church has not developed a written plan for in-person worship or the resumption of indoor activities, please do so before gatherings take place and send it to the Bishop and Canon to the Ordinary for review.  Only one written plan is necessary.
• Include safety and social distancing protocols in your written plan as well as how the spaces will be cleaned between services and after services.
• Determine how many people can be present in your worship space or other rooms where activities will be held with a 6-foot radius between each family or individual.
• Outdoor worship, formation and athletic/physical activities can continue.  Safety and social distancing guidelines still apply for outdoor activities.
• Other activities including fellowship and formation and staff and vestry meetings can be held indoors so long as a 6-foot radius between each family or individual is maintained.
• Indoor and outdoor choir rehearsals can be held based upon the guidelines in the attached memo.
• There will be no congregational singing at this time.  Soloists may sing provided they are separated from the congregation and from one another based upon the guidelines in the attached memo.
• Use single-use service bulletins which can be recycled.  Designate places for people to pick up and dispose of bulletins.
• Designate places for people to leave their monetary offering.
• Consult with the Bishop prior to baptisms and confirmations.
• Outside groups including AA and other recovery groups and scouting may meet in church buildings so long as a 6-foot radius between each family or individual is maintained.

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS:
• There will be no parish wide meetings or large gatherings inside buildings which do not comply with the stated safety and social distancing guidelines.
• Additional guidance regarding congregational singing and athletic/physical activities (including games involving physical motion, dance, etc.) inside buildings will be provided at a later date.
• Consider maintaining online services and formation opportunities for those who are not able to attend in-person services.
• Consider having supplies for worshippers, including disposable facemasks, hand sanitizer, antibacterial wipes, facial tissue and additional trash cans for disposal of these items.

GUIDANCE FOR WORSHIPPERS:
• The evening before the in-person worship service or church activity, each member of the household planning to attend should check their temperature (should be less than 100° F) and determine whether anyone has a dry cough or has lost their sense of smell or taste.
• If anyone has any of these symptoms, has been exposed to someone with coronavirus or has tested positive for coronavirus, the household members should remain at home.
• Persons who are at higher risk for coronavirus (children, persons age 65 or older, those who are asthmatic, diabetic or have a compromised immune system) should assess the degree of risk that is acceptable for them and their household.
• Please wash your hands before you leave home.
• Please bring a clean face mask for each member of the household except for children less than 2 years old.  Wear the face mask throughout the service and when you are near others.
• Please bring hand sanitizer and apply it before entering the building.
• Please maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from other persons at all times.
• Please do not shake hands or otherwise touch people who are not members of your household, including during the Peace.
• Please follow the church’s protocols for entering and exiting the building.

 

The Rt. Rev. Phoebe Roaf

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