Update on Restarting In-Person Worship
I deeply appreciate the hard work congregations are doing to plan for restarting in-person worship. I have said previously that in-person worship may begin on June 21, but congregations may start later than June 21 if that is appropriate for their context. In making this determination, task forces should consider their physical context, the age and vulnerability of their congregation, and their community context, including the spread of the coronavirus in their local area.
Please note that if there is a significant change in new COVID cases before June 21, we may have to respond on short notice by changing the start date for in-person worship. I pray that this does not happen.
Many congregations who will be offering in-person worship are taking precautions such as worshiping outdoors, which I encourage. All congregations should be following the guidelines that the state of California and my office have issued. You can find a checklist summarizing those guidelines here
I ask you to send your task force’s guidelines to our office, as we would like to share them with others to help with their planning. Mission and MAP congregations must have their guidelines approved by my office.
Some additional notes since we have issued our guidelines:
- Some believe that group recitation (such as saying the Nicene Creed together) may lead to increased risk of virus transmission. Please consider asking your congregation to speak quietly (or in a whisper), or designate someone to speak on behalf of the congregation.
- Please keep services relatively short, as increased time (especially in an enclosed space) adds to the risk of transmission.
- The state has issued guidelines allowing AA and other 12-Step groups to meet. Congregations may choose to allow such groups to resume meeting with appropriate masking, social distancing, and cleaning precautions.
- Very small groups (6 people or fewer) may meet in person if they meet outdoors, masked, with social distancing precautions. Most groups should still be meeting online.
Our guidelines currently do not permit congregational singing, though they do permit soloists or very small choral groups to sing with significant distancing precautions. I know this is painful for many of you, as it is for me. These are initial guidelines as we restart in-person worship, and we will add additional permissions when we can.
Blessings and thanks to all for your leadership during a trying time. Let us give thanks to God for the gift of Jesus Christ, who brings us together for worship in many different ways.
The Rt. Rev. Susan Brown Snook