Bishop offers guidance for Ash Wednesday

On Jan. 21 Bishop Cathleen Bascom effectively transferred her guidance about Christmas services, from her letter of Dec. 7, to services on Ash Wednesday. For churches in a county that shows “double red” on the diocesan Covid-tracker spreadsheet, she will allow one in-person service, lasting no more than 30 minutes and with a maximum of 25 people attending.

Adapting from her earlier letter, “Churches may have one indoor, in-person service . . . lasting no more than 30 minutes and with a maximum of 25 people attending. Pre-registration or sign-ins for all in attendance must continue. Masks must be worn by everyone, and except for imposition of ashes, distancing is required. Outdoor worship and other activities continue to be permitted, with wearing of masks and, with an exception for imposition of ashes, physical distancing required.”

The bishop also noted with interest a reflection on the development of the Ash Wednesday liturgy written by Bishop Neil Alexander. She also called special attention to the fact that the rubric for the Ash Wednesday service indicates that the imposition of ashes is optional, and she is encouraging congregations to consider the “dusting” practice mentioned in Bishop Alexander’s reflection.

Bishop Bascom also allowed the traditional imposition of ashes, if necessary, for churches in counties showing yellow or orange, but everyone in the line must be masked, distanced and moving.

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