In a message sent to the diocese on March 12, Bishop Cathleen Bascom reiterated some existing guidelines on how churches can gather while staying safe from the Covid-19 virus, and she also offered new options for feeding ministries and coffee hour, as well as for gatherings of fully vaccinated people.
Indoor activities, including worship, will continue to be guided by the level of virus in each county, as identified on a color-coded spreadsheet updated every Wednesday by the diocesan office. Use of the common cup at communion remains restricted, but bread can be distributed, preferably by communion ministers going to distanced worshipers with minimal direct contact.
Congregations may sing outdoors, while masked, but indoors singing is restricted to soloists or small groups, in masks and 30 feet way from worshipers.
Continuing the use of masks and distancing is encouraged, along with increased ventilation. Churches are urged to continue to livestream services, as well as to keep track of everyone who attends worship in person, in case contact tracing is required.
New guidance allows churches to resume serving food and beverages both during coffee hour and in ministries that offer food, which since last March have been restricted to take-out or pick-up packages of food. Space must be provided for those participating in these activities who want to avoid people not wearing masks.
Additionally, once parishioners have had a full series of Covid vaccinations and waited two weeks, small groups of up to 12 people can gather without wearing masks.
Bishop Bascom also asked members across the diocese to be patient and graceful as practices change in light of improving virus numbers and an increase in the number of people being vaccinated.