On May 15 Bishop Cathleen Bascom issued the following guidance:
In light of the CDC and diocesan relaxation of mask requirements for vaccinated adults, building use and worship decisions continue to be at the discretion of clergy. As possible, clergy are to be in conversation with lay leaders when making decisions about moving through this pandemic.
Rectors and parish clergy have the ultimate authority and responsibility (within the bounds of the canons, the public health modifications we require and their local public health orders) to make the decisions for worship.
Parish clergy have my support in making the decisions that are best for their communities. No clergy person who requires masking is subverting my guidance; they are being faithful to their call to pastor their congregations as they see best, and I am grateful for their service. The congregations and contexts across our diocese are unique, and as we often did in beginning restrictions, loosening restrictions will also need to be guided by parish realities.
The clergy and lay leaders making complex, practical decisions within our diocesan guidelines have my full support, and I ask Episcopalians throughout Kansas to be patient and graceful with them.
Those congregations that are blessed with the presence of children and adolescents need to be mindful of them when making decisions about masking during worship. This will be addressed more fully by us next week.
We also will study the revised guidance around masks and singing. There was once such deep concern about singing spreading the virus, and it is so treasured in our tradition, that we want to give more thought to the safety of singing unmasked.
Please expect a full set of guidelines next week. We will take guidelines we sent out on May 6 and revise them according to new CDC guidelines and input from the Council of Trustees and the Council of Deans.