Greetings to you as we approach the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6. Many may have heard an announcement from the Diocesan Health Advisory Committee and Bishop Susan. If you have not, I will summarize their direction.

The Diocesan Health Advisory Committee and the Bishop have directed churches to suspend in-person worship. This direction is based on the spike in cases of COVID-19 in our region, mostly from the Omicron variant. There is anticipation, based on the information available from other countries that have experienced the infestation of the Omicron variant, that this directive will be short-lived. It appears the Omicron variant spreads quickly but also subsides quickly.

Some good news. Because each Parish is different, the Diocesan leadership has provided for individual parishes to request and exception to the directive. St. John’s has requested and received an exception to the directive. However, that exception will require our participation in health and safety protocols. Thankfully, most of these protocols are things we already do in our corporate worship setting. But we will need to exercise some vigilance as we move forward.

Our exception was granted based on the following actions for those who attend worship. It is important to note that, for the most part, these actions have been commonplace during the pandemic.

  1. Attendees will mask while indoors except when reading scripture or the liturgy. In all cases, unmasked readers will be more than 6 feet from other members.
  2. Communion will continue to be in one kind.
  3. Social distancing will continue to be observed.
  4. Attendance will be limited to 10 individuals or family groups.
  5. The duration of worship will continue to be less than 60 minutes.
  6. High-touch areas will be routinely disinfected, especially during worship services or high traffic times.
  7. Hand sanitizer will continue to be available at the entrance to the sanctuary.
  8. Contact tracing will continue to be observed.

Ultimately, as a society, we will have to figure out how to live with the Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) present in society. Not unlike the way we address the presence of Influenza and the Common Cold. For now, our response as faithful Christians who try to live fully into our Baptismal Covenant, this is the best we can do – to honor our neighbor and protect ourselves, while still gathering to worship and hear Holy Scripture.

If you would like more details about the spike in COVID-19 in our area, please contact me.