Update on In-Person Worship
Alleluia! Christ is Risen! In our current pandemic situation, we are learning new ways to proclaim this great truth of our faith. Jesus Christ is risen, and we have good news of eternal and abundant life in Christ to proclaim. In our church, that mission has not changed. Our ways of accomplishing that mission are changing, as they have many times in Christianity’s 2,000-year history. I am proud of and inspired by the adaptive and transformative work that so many of you have been doing to creatively proclaim the good news and to lead your congregations. And I am convinced that the new ways we have all learned to follow Jesus during this time of quarantine will help us meet the challenges of the twenty-first century long after the pandemic is over. The Holy Spirit will guide us in proclaiming the good news of Christ and serving our communities in many new ways.
Many people are talking about “re-opening” churches. Our churches have never closed. They have simply moved the location of their ministries onto the internet and into the world. The church is open and we are still following Jesus. Just as the apostles were sent out into the world to proclaim the good news in a new way in Acts Chapter 8, we have been sent into the world to follow Jesus in new ways. Of course, in-person worship has paused, and we are now looking toward restarting that vital part of our mission.
As you are probably aware, the governors of California and Arizona have issued new guidelines permitting churches to restart in-person worship. Of course, we are also subject to county guidelines, which are different depending on which county your church is located in.
Last week, I sent some updated guidelines for restarting in-person worship. In those guidelines, I asked you to create a task force to create specific policies for your context and congregation. In considering those policies, you should also consider the governor’s guidelines, which add some additional requirements. You can find those guidelines here. Mission and MAP/APP congregations must have your in-person worship guidelines approved by our office.
Like other bishops in California, I am still looking at a projected date for restarting in-person worship of June 21 at the earliest. That will give each congregation time to create comprehensive policies. In addition, that date will allow us to observe whether other churches that restart in-person worship sooner, using the state’s guidelines, experience COVID outbreaks.
Thank you again to the Episcopalians in our diocese, clergy and lay leaders, who have worked so hard to adapt to the massive changes in our church. Christ is risen, and I believe he is constantly calling us to transformation. I am so grateful for the transformations you are all leading.
The Rt. Rev. Susan Brown Snook