Today the Bishop is rolling out our Diocesan Plan for moving forward in the wake of this COVID-19 pandemic we are facing. The team that was put in place to come up with the plan worked diligently and collated resources from a variety of sources and many other Dioceses. The plan is based upon state guidelines and is not arbitrary. Everyone wants to move through this as quickly as possible. They had an over-arching goal and that was the health and safety of all members of our Church community and their families. They came up with a four phase approach which I will try an outline here. Feel free to read the plan yourselves and ask what ever questions you need.
Phase one – What we are in today. Churches closed for worship – Shelter at home – no more than three people gathering, safely, in church or otherwise to provide on-line services. We are doing this and you all have been very supportive. We will continue with Morning Prayer via Zoom Sunday at 10:00 followed by a Virtual Coffee hour at 11:00. I will record the sermon for posting on my YouTube channel.
Phase two – Continue with everything in Phase One but put together a team which will plan a phased approach to reopening the Church during the other phases where possible. This is a planning phase and starts this Sunday. Plans must be submitted to the Bishop’s office for approval. We will not be using or opening the Church during this time and this will continue until Phase three when Churches in our area are okayed for limited opening. We will continue with Morning Prayer and other virtual services as noted in Phase one.
Phase three – Here it begins to get dicey for us. When plans are approved and the county allows for limited gathering we will determine how we are to handle this with the Bishop’s approval. Since we have a majority of people in the high risk group, including your clergy person, there is the highest of probability that we will not be starting in person services however limited. Other churches may but we most likely will not. There are a range of details in what we’d have to do to make arrangements for holding Morning Prayer in person; however, one of the criteria in this section that affects us is the proscription of high risk people gathering. This would affect most of us.
Phase four will be entered into once vaccines and treatments become available for the general population and then according to the plans we draw up in phase two we will begin to have a staged opening. This is months if not a year down the road honestly and there will be an impact upon how we do church that is yet to be determined.
I don’t mean to scare or discourage any of you. The truth is this saddens me deeply and I’m sure many of you will be angered, grieving or both. We will get through this as a community, but we will be needing to change. I haven’t laid out more specifics because I honestly don’t know how this will roll out. You may see other churches in the area handling their opening differently, much as we have seen some states handling opening their communities differently than we have here in California. None of this is a political issue. Our primary concern is the health and welfare of each of you. We do not want to lose the one because the ninety-nine want to gather. We can and will gather differently and with God’s Grace which flows with us so abundantly we will come out of the wilderness someday.
I truly remain yours in Christ