Episcopal churches in the D.C. area, including the Washington National Cathedral, are making plans for an eventual return to public worship, based on guidance from civic leaders and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Episcopal bishops of Maryland, Virginia and D.C. said there will be a phased regathering, requiring 6 feet of physical distancing between congregants, and all congregants will have to wear masks.
There’ll also be restrictions surrounding the celebration of communion. And the bishops said the regathering plans could be suspended if there’s a rise in coronavirus cases.
“We’re all anxious to get back, but we don’t want to get back in a way that’s going to endanger anybody’s lives … so there will be physical distancing, there will not be handshaking or any of that,” the Rev. Eugene Taylor Sutton, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, said.
Congregations are being asked to submit their plans, which must be approved by the bishop.
“What we’re experiencing right now is a shared season of grief around the world … we’re grieving every single life lost,” Sutton said.
Like other institutions relying on technology during the public health emergency, the Episcopal church has successfully connected with worshippers online, through livestreamed masses and video conferencing.
“These are just avenues for us to reach more people and also be reached by more people, and I believe it’s going to make a lasting difference. We’re already talking, in our congregations, about how to expand the use of that technology even when we’re able to gather again,” Sutton said.
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