COVID-19 Update: Ending Public Worship
(March 16, 2020) Bishop Wayne Smith and Bishop-elect Deon Johnson announced March 16 that our diocese will not offer public worship in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus. We recognize that our church buildings are used for many things other than worship and many of our ministries are vital to our communities.
With those things in mind, Bishop Wayne and Bishop-elect Deon offer these guidelines for church operations during this time:
- 12-Step programs can continue to meet in your church space, but must follow CDC guidelines capping attendance at 10 people with safe physical distancing.
- Food and hunger ministries can continue but should be served as take-out or to-go meals, not sit-down dinners. Closely follow food preparation safety guidelines, as always.
- If you choose to do so, your church building can remain open during regular business hours for people to visit for prayer or reflection. Again, physical distancing (6 feet) should be practiced.
- Encourage your congregation to continue their giving practices to your parish. Even though public worship services will not be taking place, bills still need to be paid. We urge the use of online pay services or checks by mail. If your parish does not have an online pay service, you can contact the Bishop’s office to set up a line for you on the diocesan website’s donate page.
- We suggest that you livestream worship services from your parish to your congregation through Facebook, YouTube and other online services. Communications Director Janis Greenbaum will be happy to show you how simple it can be. And if you are planning to livestream any of your services, please contact Janis to let her know when and where people can watch.
- Be especially mindful of pastoral care in your congregations during this time. Be sure to check regularly on your most at-risk members, including those over 60-years old and those with chronic health conditions (like diabetes, heart disease, respiratory problems, etc.). Consider using phone trees or other ways to check in regularly and respond to their needs.
- Limit pastoral and Eucharistic visits to clergy only.
- Consider sending cards to local nursing homes to let their residents know they are not forgotten.
- Consider creating a group text list or use social media to check in on youth group members.
- Clergy should stay in touch and support each other during this difficult time. Discuss setting up regular Zoom meetings with Bishop Smith and Bishop-elect Deon to make sure everyone (including yourself) is cared for.
The staff of the Bishop’s office will be working mainly from home until at least April 3, 2020, but will still be answering phones and available by email to help with your needs. Feel free to contact us.
The Rev. Canon Doris Westfall, Interim Canon to the Ordinary
The Rev. Canon Loren Lasch, Canon of Christian Formation
Jillian Smith, Executive Assistant to the Bishop, Bishop-elect and Canon to the Ordinary
Tracy Grigsby, Receptionist and Administrative Assistant
Desiree Brattin, Executive Director of Finance and Administration
Rita Benson, Finance Assistant and Benefits Administrator
Sue Rehkopf, Diocesan Archivist and Registrar
Janis Greenbaum, Director of Communications