Bishop Sean Allows Resumption of In-Person Worship…
“Across our region, COVID-19 cases have begun to decline from the precipitous rates we saw this winter. The vaccine rollout, while still slow, has gained some momentum in both New York and Pennsylvania, and it seems as if the worst of the winter weather may be behind us. As a result, I have decided, in consultation with the clergy of our dioceses and the standing committees of the dioceses, to permit congregations to return to limited in-person worship beginning April 1.
Congregations that regather in person must follow state guidelines for indoor and outdoor gatherings. Everyone present must wear masks at all times and maintain six feet of distance. Singing, whether by cantors, choirs, or the congregation, is not recommended.
We should not expect in-person Holy Week and Easter services to feel “normal” this year.. This year of pandemic has been extraordinarily trying. At many times, it has been difficult for our churches to sustain the resolve to protect the most vulnerable among us. But across our partnership, there has not been a single known case of COVID-19 transmission among staff or church members in congregations that have followed our guidelines. There is no question that your faithful commitment has prevented illness and possibly deaths, and I am extraordinarily grateful to you.
While we are not yet safe from danger, we can reasonably hope that we are now through the worst of this pandemic. President Biden has said that if we continue to wear masks, practice social distance, and get vaccinated, we can hope to return to something like our normal lives early in July. In order to make that hope real, we must continue to be vigilant, especially when we gather in person. Please abide by these new worship guidelines so that we can continue our progress toward a post-pandemic world.
Thank you, as always, for your faithfulness to God’s mission in our region.”