COVID regathering update, from Bishop Marc (December 10)

Posted on December 10, 2020

Dear Friends in Christ,

As you well know, the Bay Area is experiencing a renewed surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths, and state public health officials are urging everyone to exercise extreme caution in the coming weeks to avoid overwhelming our already stressed health care facilities. In the face of this grim reality, I am advising our congregations to discontinue all in-person worship gatherings, with the exception of outdoor funerals, until further notice.

I issue this advisory with a heavy heart; we are, after all, in Advent, a season of hopeful watching and waiting, and approaching Christmas, one of our holiest and most beloved holidays. I also make this recommendation with the full understanding that the six counties in which we operate are still allowing religious groups to gather outdoors. However, just because the law allows us to gather does not, in my view, mean we should at this time, especially since so many of our neighbors — from restaurant workers to hairdressers to performing artists — are being asked to make tremendous financial sacrifices on behalf of public health.

I am confident that you will navigate this season of hope and anticipation, but also sacrifice, as you have throughout the course of this pandemic — with love, creativity, and a deep commitment to keeping our congregations, staff, and communities safe. As I said on yesterday’s clergy Zoom call, worship teams may continue to livestream and record indoors, provided the group is stable (the same people from week to week), following all diocesan safety protocols, and as small as possible. Essential services for the community, such as food pantry operations, may also continue.
Though this may feel like a darker than usual Advent, please know that your ministries, in whatever form they are taking, shine brightly with their messages of hope and comfort. As always, please reach out to me or diocesan staff with any questions or concerns you may have. I wish you and all those you love a blessed Advent and a joyous Christmas.

In faith,