“We have spent the past 16 months doing our very best to consider the needs of our communities and, as we move into summer, we will continue to do just that. Be kind to yourself and to those around you as we all work through the emotions and different patterns of life and realities of this past year and now shift again to a whole new set of emotions and patterns of life.”
Diocesan administrator the Very Rev. Alexandra Meek has provided the following recommendations and guidelines as we move into summer and phase 3 of the provincial reopening plan. These will be updated as necessary, as we continue to monitor COVID cases across the province. These guidelines may also change if the provincial government provides specific guidance for faith communities in phase 3.
Parishes are asked to consider their local community and the people with whom we worship as the community adjusts to being together again:
- Are there members who cannot receive their vaccination due to health concerns?
- Are there many children under 12 in our community who have not yet been vaccinated?
- Are there many local cases of COVID in our surrounding community or very few?
- How comfortable is the congregation with returning to in-person worship?
While the premier is removing all provincial restrictions, and Edmonton is lifting its mask mandate as of July 1, vaccination rates differ greatly across the diocese.
Recommendations for the summer months:
- Parishes may open for in-person services. Again, there is no pressure to re-open immediately but if the number of Covid cases does continue to drop, and vaccination rates are able to keep variants of the virus contained, please plan to re-open by September for in-person worship.
- Contact tracing is no longer necessary. If you are concerned that more people will hope to return than you are able to seat with social distancing in place, please continue to ask congregants to register prior to the service.
- Masks and/or social distancing for indoor events are strongly encouraged. There is no limit on the % of people you may have in worship, but households should be able to maintain 6 feet of distance from one another.
- Parishes may resume passing the peace, as congregations feel comfortable.
- Communion wafers may, as previously stated, be distributed directly into the hands of individuals. Please keep hand sanitizer nearby in case of the need to re-apply sanitizer during distribution.
- Small groups and meetings may be held in person.
- Youth ministry may resume but please consider vaccination rates and, for the summer, try to prioritize outdoor events.
- Hymnal and prayerbooks may be returned to the pews and be used.
- Doors and high-touch areas should continue to be wiped and sanitized after each service. If there is only 1 service taking place during the day, pews no longer need to be sanitized.
- Outdoor worship services do not require the wearing of masks, but masks should be worn while singing.
Guidelines for the summer months:
- We will continue to refrain from sharing the common cup until further guidance is provided by the Bishop, or the Metropolitan.
- Congregational singing may resume (as long as masks are being worn).
- Please continue to refrain from coffee hour and sharing social meals.
- Please consider children’s ministry very carefully -children under 12 cannot yet be vaccinated and there is no clear sense yet how the delta variant will affect children. Indoor children’s ministry is strongly discouraged for the remainder of the summer, outdoor events may be planned carefully and with consideration for the community.
"Beyond the recommendations and guidelines, clergy are asked to consider their communities and to act as they feel most appropriately for the summer months, in consultation with their vestries and corporations. This means that as of June 30, each parish will set their limits for the summer, with the plan that by the fall we will be more fully re-opened."