New Guidelines for Worship - May 26, 2021
To the people of the Episcopal Diocese of East Carolina:
Dear friends in Christ,
A little more than one year ago I wrote to you to lay out plans for a return to public worship in the congregations of this Diocese. With those plans, we built a framework for public worship that we have continued to follow in the months since, easing restrictions as we have been able to do so. Today I write to remove many of the restrictions that we have been keeping, while asking all of you to adhere to the following simple principles:
- We will all agree to pattern our public worship within the guidelines that are detailed in the attached document. These guidelines have been developed through a process of consultation with Clergy, Churchwardens, members of the Executive Council and others. They are based on Governor Cooper’s most recent Executive Order and are in keeping with recommendations from other bodies such as the CDC.
- We will continue to trust our Clergy and Churchwardens, working with others as they see fit, to develop and implement plans for worship for use in their own congregations. These plans will be as unique as each ministry context while, remaining fully within the guidelines established for all in the Diocese to use. Congregational plans should be carefully communicated with members, with prominent public signage as appropriate.
- We will look to the common good of everyone whom God will lead to worship with us, demonstrating generous hospitality to all, regardless of their vaccination status. At all times, we should seek to express our love for one another, rather than seeking to protect our own self-interest or privilege.
While theologians and historians will debate the origins of the following words, yet still they seem appropriate for the place in which we now find ourselves: “in essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity.” As we continue forward on this journey of faith, let us each make good decisions about which things are essential and which things are not, while loving God and loving our neighbor in everything that we do!
May God’s Holy Spirit equip us for everything we need in this life and for everything that God calls us to do in this world!
Yours in Christ,
Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of East Carolina