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A letter from Bishop Scanlan regarding an update from the Task Force for Operations

Posted on

3/9/2021

Dear Members of the Episcopal Diocese of Central PA,

The following letter from Bishop Scanlan was sent this morning to all diocesan clergy and parishes without clergy leadership. The letter provides an update from the Task Force for Operations regarding Returning to Church. Please read below.

3/9/2021
Dear Clergy,

At a meeting of the Task Force on Operations on Friday, March 5th, the
guidelines for Returning to Church were reviewed and changes to the
most recent plan’s thresholds for reopening were recommended. The
changes are noted below.

These changes were based on new information available to us about
the effectiveness of the vaccine, the consideration of the efficacy of more
than one factor to be used in offering thresholds for safe regathering, and
the beneficial feedback that we have received from many of you.

The updated guidelines are offered as the least restrictive option for you
as you care for and minister to your congregations. Some of our churches
will choose to remain closed to in-person, indoor worship and will
continue worshipping online because that is the most comfortable
option for them. 

As always, the purpose of the guidelines is to offer best practices and
thresholds that the Task Force believes will allow for an indoor worship
experience that is as safe as possible. 

All of the mitigation measures from the previous plan (mandatory mask
wearing, sanitizer available, no singing, communion in one kind, option of
Spiritual Communion, etc.) are to be continued. Please refer to the
mitigation measures in the previous plan here https://diocesecentralpa.s3.amazonaws.com/2021+Website/Coronavirus/Updated+Regathering+Final+Guidance+2020+10+09.pdf

The number of people in the sanctuary will be as many as each particular
church can hold with a 6-ft distance between individuals and/or household
groups.

The changes to the Guidelines are focused on the thresholds and
timelines for re-gathering in person
* When the county in which your church is located reaches either
5% positivity rate or less or 25 or fewer daily cases per 100,000, in a
weekly report beginning March 8th or thereafter, the Task Force will
endorse reopening with all mitigation measures in place. The link to
check the statistics, updated on Mondays each week, can be found here
 https://diocesecpa.org/parish-news/coronavirus-facts-precautions-and-prayers/

*As your congregation approaches these thresholds, please be in touch
with Carolyn Patterson (cpatterson@diocesecpa.org) who will assign you
to a Task Force member to review your plan for reopening for indoor
worship.

* If the statistics increase beyond the thresholds of both a 5% positivity
rate and more than 25 cases per 100,000 for two weeks in a row, that will
indicate a growing surge in cases and a conversation with a Task Force
member will be encouraged to discuss the best response. 

As Holy Week and Easter draw near, we realize that this may allow for
some of our churches to conduct in person, indoor worship. It is advisable
to discuss how you will determine the “reservation process” for your
parish and the number of services that may be required to accommodate
all who wish to be present in church.
 
Outdoor worship (with mitigation measures in place) remains an option
at all times.

We hope that this shift in practice will be beneficial for those who want
to gather safely in person for worship in our sacred spaces.

In the Way of Love,
The Rt. Rev. Audrey C. Scanlan
XI Bishop
The Task Force for Operations
The Rt. Rev. Audrey C. Scanlan XI Bishop
Ms. Elaine Austin, St. Thomas, Lancaster
Ms. Barbara Cross, St. John’s, Carlisle
Canon Alexis Guszick
Canon Chad Linder
Mr. William Lord, St. John’s, Carlisle
The Rev. Canon Dan Morrow
The Rev. Jeff Packard, St. Andrew’s, State College
Dr. Pam Vnenchak, St. Thomas, Lancaster, Consulting Physician 

This protocol has been reviewed by the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Pennsylvania
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