Returning to Our Buildings: Guidance and Direction for Worshipping Communities in the Time of COVID-19
|Updated 26 May 2020|
Dear Clergy, Lay Leaders, and Members of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Pennsylvania,
The Task Force on Operations has been working for the past three weeks to create a plan of “Guidance for Returning to Church.” To view or download the plan, click here. As of this coming Friday, May 8, 24 counties in the Commonwealth will enter the “yellow” phase of Governor Wolf’s “Process to Reopen Pennsylvania,” which includes the release of the Stay at Home order in those regions and the reopening of retail locations with specific guidelines. In our diocese, there are 27 parishes within the 24 counties that will be making the move to the “yellow phase.”
With the lifting of the Stay at Home order, diocesan parishes within those counties are now able to gather, provided they complete the administrative steps listed below. While churches and other religious institutions have been exempt from the government shut-down, individuals have not, and so, up until this time I have only been comfortable endorsing church by virtual means.
Until a vaccine for COVID-19 is developed, the safest way for us to be together as church is to be together virtually. Even with a plan replete with fulsome guidance for health safety followed to its every detail, there remains some risk in venturing to any place where people are gathered, including church. Some of our parishioners will not be comfortable returning to physical church right away, and we have an obligation to respect these reservations and to continue providing virtual worship opportunities.
The plan in these next pages requires these administrative steps on the part of Clergy, Lay Pastors, and Vestries:
1.) Read the entire document.
2.) Clergy and Vestry meet to discuss:
a. the appetite for returning to church in the parish
b. specifically how the plan will be implemented at their site
c. how to provide for those who choose not to return right now
3.) Clergy or Lay Pastor or Lay Leader contacts my assistant Carolyn Patterson at email@example.com to schedule a consultation with Canons Linder, Morrow, or myself regarding the implementation of the plan.
Thank you for your trust in this process, for your prayers in this time, and for your faithfulness.
|In the Way of Love,|
|The Rt. Rev. Audrey C. Scanlan|