An Update from Bishop Benfield
Since March 2020 we have learned much about how the COVID virus spreads and the best steps to take to ensure our health. As a result, last spring I recommended that congregations stop having in-person worship, later followed by numerous recommendations on how safely to resume worship services.
Given the high percentage of people attending our congregations who are fully vaccinated, the recommendations have changed, and now many of our congregations are back to almost normal activities on Sunday mornings. Individuals are now making their own decisions on what activities in church buildings are safe and comfortable for them, and I encourage everyone to continue to make those decisions for themselves.
My recommendation is that congregations resume normal activities and worship services, including receiving Holy Communion in both kinds, but remain mindful and accepting of those people who do not yet feel the same level of comfort that others have. For example, online worship options need to continue for so many reasons, one of which is that there are people who now attend church online who did not attend at all prior to the pandemic. Keep masks and hand sanitizer available for those who wish to use them. Remind people that they are receiving the benefits of Holy Communion even if they choose to receive consecrated Bread only.
It will take some time before everyone feels comfortable with participating in our common life—in church, in the grocery store, in a restaurant—in the same way that we felt two years ago. I encourage everyone to act with care and concern for others; treat the stranger as Christ’s own self. It has served the church well both in times of health and pandemic for going on two thousand years.