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COVID-19 Directives

An Update to Our COVID-19 Directive

September 1, 2021

Dear Friends,

As the new COVID-19 variants continue to fill our hospitals and sicken our neighbors, I have met with the Dioceses of Eastern and Western Michigan to make some additions to each phase of our joint Plan for Re-Entry for Great Lakes Episcopalians. The addition is as follows:

“Congregations and episcopal entities may require their paid staff to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition of employment while allowing for doctors’ exemptions.”

We know that our vaccines are safe, effective, and prevent hospitalization and death, and we Michiganders are privileged to have ready access to the Pfizer vaccine, which was granted full approval by the FDA just last week. Vaccinations are key to saving lives, preventing long-haul covid, and ensuring that our medical system does not become overwhelmed.

I will be requiring my staff and the staff members of the Cathedral Church of St. Paul, Detroit, and Cathedral Chapter to be fully vaccinated by September 15, 2021. Additionally, everyone in the building will be required to wear masks at all times, with the exception of when they are alone in their offices.

As the church, it is our serious and solemn responsibility to care for our communities in any way that we can. I pray that you join me in keeping our community’s children and immunocompromised people safe.

In Christ,

 

 

The Rt. Rev. Dr. Bonnie A. Perry
11th Bishop of the Diocese of Michigan


 

An Update to Our COVID-19 Directive

June 14, 2021

Dear Friends,

We are very glad to formally announce that all dioceses in Michigan’s lower peninsula will enter Phase 3 of the Plan for Re-Entry for Great Lakes Episcopalians effective July 1, 2021. The first Sunday this affects is July 4, 2021.

We enter Phase 3 for the first time as our vaccination rates are on the rise, our hospital and death rates are dropping, with new information from the CDC, and as our governor’s COVID-19 policies are set to expire. We are due for celebration!

This Phase of “Deeper Participation” is focused on best practices with only a few hard requirements, encouraging and empowering responsible local decision-making as you determine what level of re-entry is appropriate for your community at this time.
Because Phase 3 had not been modified since it was originally drafted in March 2020, the statewide group has instituted some changes to the original document reflective of what we’ve learned over the last sixteen months. Here is an overview of Phase 3, including areas that have been modified:

  • Masks are encouraged indoors and not required outdoors. Masks are especially encouraged in the following circumstances: ministry with immunocompromised populations, children’s ministry (while children remain ineligible for vaccination), and when distributing communion.
  • There are no capacity restrictions nor distancing requirements. It is advised that precautions be in place to avoid crowding.
  • The preparation and serving of food is permitted. Self-serve buffets are not allowed.
  • Communion is permitted in one kind using bread or wafers.
  • Communal spaces must be cleaned on a regular basis. However, it is no longer required that this take place before and after every gathering.

Please read “Phase 3: Deeper Participation” for additional detail and recommendations.

Remember that the pandemic is ongoing and while some aspects of our “normal” lives become more accessible, this may not be true for all people or all communities. Please remain generous and compassionate to folks who may not be able yet to return to in-person activities and to those that will continue to wear masks to protect themselves for whatever reason. We encourage you to continue to monitor the COVID-19 Risk Map and consider instituting extra precautions should your county enter orange or red status.

We are also accustomed to the experience of changing circumstances. Please remember that we remain under the pastoral directives of the Plan for Re-Entry for Great Lakes Episcopalians. Should factors beyond our control (new virus variants, etc.) prompt new restrictions from the state and/or CDC, there remains the possibility of moving back to a previous phase.

As always, please route clarifying questions or concerns to Canon Jo Ann Hardy at jhardy@edomi.org.

Yours in Christ,

 

 

The Rt. Rev. Dr. Bonnie A. Perry
11th Bishop of the Diocese of Michigan


An Update to Our COVID-19 Directive

May 24, 2021

Dear Friends,

Beginning on Sunday, May 30, the Episcopal Bishops and the ecclesiastical authorities for the Lower Peninsula have agreed to update our COVID-19 protocols for all congregations. The details are:

All In-Person Gatherings – Indoor or Outdoor (including small groups)

  • Indoors – masks are required
  • Outdoors – masks are highly recommended
  • Limit attendance to allow for reasonable social distancing
  • Log for contact tracing
  • Hand sanitizer available/cleaning protocols in place
  • Extra ventilation for indoor events

Worship Services (Indoor or Outdoor)

  • Bread only for communion
  • “Quiet” congregational singing with masks
  • Vaccinated choirs/ensembles may sing as a group with masks
  • Touch-free passing of the peace and offerings

Coffee Hour, Receptions

  • Continue protocols for masking, social distancing, contact tracing
  • Food individually packaged (no common platters, open pitchers, or vessels for serving)
  • Individuals and households can bring their own food/beverages
  • No food preparation on-site is allowed; however, beverages may be served for the community from closed containers (such as carafes of coffee, tea, punch, or capped soda or water, for example).
  • Community food sharing ministries may continue under specific diocesan guidance

Vacation Bible School/Children’s Summer Programs

  • All masked
  • 6 foot distancing for all activities
  • No shared games, toys, or crafts
  • Contact tracing for participants and volunteers
  • Stringent sanitation procedures
  • Food individually packaged (no common platters, pitchers, or vessels for serving)

The Church as a Workplace

Remote work, as possible is still advised. Any staff members working from church-owned buildings must continue to follow social distancing and sanitary guidelines, including:

  • Masks required for all
  • COVID-19 symptom screening prior to entering the workplace
  • Maintaining six feet of separation between individuals
  • Regular handwashing and sanitizer use

Regular disinfection of shared common surfaces

As we continue to reenter our buildings and into physical gatherings, it is my hope that you continue to be cautious and aware of the risks that still remain. Vaccinations are extremely helpful, but they do not guarantee your safety and the safety of those around you. Please monitor the positivity rate of your communities and those surrounding you, and please encourage those around you who have not been vaccinated to get their shots.

The four dioceses in Michigan will continue to meet to assess our progress and any changes made by the CDC on the first Thursday of the month, with our next meeting being June 3. Additionally, we will check in again in mid-June—two weeks after Memorial Day—to see what changes we may consider going forward.

Thank you for your good work in ensuring the safety of our communities. If you have any questions, please reach out to Canon Jo Ann Hardy at jhardy@edomi.org.

In Faith,

 

 

The Rt. Rev. Dr. Bonnie A. Perry
11th Bishop of the Diocese of Michigan


March 15, 2021
Dear Friends,
I am pleased to announce that the Episcopal Bishops and the ecclesiastical authorities for our state have agreed to move our state to Phase 2 of our Great Lakes Re-Entry Plan beginning today, March 14, 2021. The first available in-person worship service date will be on Palm Sunday, March 28. These decisions have been made in light of the updated CDC recommendations.

During Phase 2 of our building re-entry, in-person, inside gatherings will be limited to no more than 25% of your congregation’s capacity, or the maximum number for your space while allowing 6 feet, 360* of total separation between households, whichever is fewer.

As before, congregations and communities must continue to follow all cleaning and social distancing procedures in Phase 2, including mandatory cleaning processes, mandatory mask wearing regardless of vaccination status, six feet of distancing between households, and keeping a log for purposes of contact tracing.

I advise you to continue to monitor the positivity rate of your county and the counties that surround your congregation through the Harvard Global Pandemic COVID-19 Risk Map. The decision to return to limited in-person worship can be made on a congregational and individual level and many congregations may choose to offer both in person and virtual worship services. Regardless of your decision, you will have my support.

As recently reported, all Michigan residents age 50 and up with pre-existing medical conditions or living with a disability are eligible for an appointment for the COVID-19 vaccine. On March 22, any Michigan resident 16 and up with a qualifying medical condition will also be eligible. Click here to find a vaccination site in your county. As we now know, fully vaccinated persons are less likely to spread COVID-19, so please do plan to get vaccinated at your first opportunity.

Thank you for your ongoing commitment to do all that we can to keep our communities safe and well cared for.

I ask your prayers. Please know that you are in mine.

In Faith,

 

 

The Rt. Rev. Dr. Bonnie A. Perry
11th Bishop of the Diocese of Michigan


An Update to Our COVID-19 Directive

March 8, 2021

Dear Friends,

I am pleased to announce that the Episcopal Bishops and the ecclesiastical authorities for our state are updating the Phase 1.5 stipulations of our Great Lakes Re-Entry Plan Revised plan for our congregations and communities of faith.

Beginning today, March 8, 2021
Outdoor, open air gatherings of up to 100 are now permitted.

Congregations and communities must continue to follow all cleaning and social distancing procedures in Phase I.5, including mandatory mask wearing, six feet of distancing between households, and keeping a log for purposes of contact tracing. You may also want to consider switching to KN95 masks for more protection.

Regarding the Vaccine
Starting today, all Michigan residents age 50 and up with pre-existing medical conditions or living with a disability will be eligible for an appointment for the COVID-19 vaccine. On March 22, all Michiganders age 50 and up will become eligible. Click here to find a vaccination site in your county.

Please….when it is your turn, get your vaccine!

Thank you for your prayers, your patience, and your persistence through this incredibly difficult time. Questions can be directed to Canon Jo Ann Hardy at jhardy@edomi.org. Please continue to pray for our healthcare workers, essential workers, first responders and for all who are lonely, grieving or filled with despair.

May God’s grace and abiding love be with you as we continue to hope.

In Faith,

 

 

The Rt. Rev. Dr. Bonnie A. Perry
11th Bishop of the Diocese of Michigan


 

An Update to Our COVID-19 Directive – Regarding Ash Wednesday

Jan. 22, 2021

According to the Book of Common Prayer, the imposition of ashes is an optional practice for Ash Wednesday. Churches may or may not choose not to participate.

Congregations may choose to offer ashes under the following guidelines, assuming Phase 1.5 is still in place. Ashes may be burned from last year’s palms or from another source.

Note: Our congregations remain closed to public, in-person worship.

Recommended, possible practices for Ash Wednesday:

The following practices meet the requirements and are recommended to you. Ashes may be offered as part of a larger, broadcasted liturgy or privately, at home using the Book of Common Prayer, beginning on page 264.

  • Ashes may be sprinkled on the recipient’s head or forehead by the priest or designee. To do this, ashes must be finely ground and very dry, not mixed with water or oil. This may require a larger quantity than is typical, as much as 2-3x the amount of ashes. (We understand that the ashes may fall in many places. Please remember the ashes are not consecrated.)
  • Ashes may be prepared and distributed in small containers to participants. Participants self-impose or impose for one another in a household.
  • Instructions may be given to participants in how to burn their own ashes to self-impose or impose for one another in a household.

In preparing your worship service, keep in mind the following limitations:

  • The priest or designee must not physically touch the recipient.
  • The priest or designee must use sanitizer before and after distributing ashes, and regularly between recipients.

The practice traditionally known as “Ashes to Go” in which a priest or designee distributes ashes in public spaces is not permitted.

We commend “A Note on Ash Wednesday” by the Rt. Rev. Neil Alexander of Sewanee School of Theology to clergy and worship leaders as you consider these options and requirements. 

Click here to read the full COVID-19 Directive

 

 

The Rt. Rev. Dr. Bonnie A. Perry
11th Bishop of the Diocese of Michigan


An Update to Our COVID-19 Directive

Nov. 16, 2020

Dear Friends,

More and more COVID-19 cases continue to rise across our country and in our state. The increase in infections leads to an overburdening of our medical resources, an increase in hospitalizations, and an increase in the number of loved ones across our state who are dying. We can prevent this fatal trend.

In keeping with Governor Whitmer’s policies to slow the spread of COVID-19, so that so many more of us may eventually live our lives to the fullest, the Episcopal Bishops and the ecclesiastical authorities for our state are directing our congregations and communities of faith to enter into Phase l.5 of the Great Lakes Re-Entry Plan Revised plan, effective this Sunday, November 22, 2020.

Beginning Sunday, November 22, 2020, the new directives include the following stipulations:

  • All in person worship in all Episcopal communities in the State of Michigan are suspended until further notice.
  • No more than 10 people, including those people involved in recording and or live streaming worship services, may be present in the building at the same time. All must be masked and socially distanced at least 6 feet.
    • Eucharist is permitted for those 10 who are in person, following the directions under Phase 2 and Spiritual Communion for online participants.
    • Funerals, graveside services, weddings, baptisms, and ordinations are permitted with 10 participants or fewer, all masked and socially distanced at least 6 feet.
  • Office staff must be permitted to work from home, as appropriate to their duties. In-person staffing should be minimal, to maintain essential operations, only.
  • All groups and meetings, (bible study, vestry meeting, community groups, etc.) and any form of in person gatherings are suspended. Please make use of virtual formats for these essential ministries.
  • Preschools, daycares and outdoor hunger relief ministries may continue to operate with permission of the bishop or ecclesiastical authority.

Although it is disappointing to relinquish our in-person worship, I know that you are as anxious as I am to save as many lives as possible and get this virus under control. Limiting our in-person gatherings is the way we can tangibly show our love for all of our neighbors.

Please plan on observing Advent and Christmas in a virtual format. Please continue to reach out to all in need with phone calls, emails, and virtual gatherings. Please know that our virtual worship services are extremely important to people who are now part of our communities as well as to people who happen upon us, as they look for hope, connection and community in our fraught world.

I ask your prayers for all who are sick, for all who are essential workers, for all who are first-responders, for all who are lonely, filled with grief and on the brink of despair. Your prayers, your leadership, your ability to share your profound faith in Jesus Christ will enable all of us to move through this extended difficult time and emerge with a greater sense of God’s call and God’s presence.

May God’s peace, which passes all understanding keep your hearts and your minds in the knowledge and love of Christ Jesus.

In Faith,

 

 

The Rt. Rev. Dr. Bonnie A. Perry
11th Bishop of the Diocese of Michigan


An Update to Our COVID-19 Directive

November 11, 2020

Dear Friends,

As COVID-19 rates are rising quickly, the Bishops and Standing Committees of the Episcopal dioceses in the state of Michigan are meeting regularly to review infection rates, updates from the Governor, and our local congregational experience. We know this – thus far, Episcopalians in Michigan have kept people safe. For this we are thankful.

You have all worked diligently and wisely to care for your members and neighbors, whether you opened for safe, in-person worship, offer a hybrid model or chose to continue to gather virtually only. Because of your careful attention to our guidelines and COVID-19 protocols, we are doing well and I am pleased to let you know that we have not had a super-spreader event in any of our congregations.

The Harvard Global Health Institute tracks COVID-19 rates by state and county, categorizing them into green, yellow, orange, and red. As you continue to make decisions for your congregation considering your local infection rates, you will want to make use of the map and statistics below. If you are currently holding in-person gatherings, and your county is categorized as red or orange, I encourage your leadership to temporarily suspend in person worship and moving to virtual offerings, only.

Click here to access the Harvard Global Health Institute Map.

If you choose to continue to gather in person, please remember that we are currently operating under Phase II of our Plan for Re-Entry for Great Lakes Episcopalians.

Phase II of the plan includes mandates for mask wearing, contact tracing and social distancing, whether gathering inside or outside. While food preparation and service is generally not allowed in Phase II, plans to do so as a part of your congregation’s community witness will be reviewed and considered upon submission to my office.

I am so grateful for each of you and how you have carefully and prayerfully attended to all of the guidelines and directives over the past nine months. I know that it has not been easy. I also know that it has made a difference in all of our diocesan communities. Thank you.

Please do let me know how I might continue support your congregation or provide any resources that you may need.

May God Continue to Bless us and all we endeavor to do in Christ’s Name.

All my best,

 

 

The Rt. Rev. Dr. Bonnie A. Perry
11th Bishop of the Diocese of Michigan


An Update to Our COVID-19 Directive

September 30, 2020

Dear Friends,

Last week, Governor Whitmer rescinded the executive order which restricted the number of persons for indoor gatherings to 10 and outdoor gatherings to 100. In keeping with this change from the State of Michigan and in conjunction with the Bishops and Standing Committees of the Episcopal dioceses in the state of Michigan, effective Sunday, October 11, 2020:

Congregations may hold in person worship and gatherings that do not exceed more than 25% of building capacity, or the maximum number of persons while maintaining 6 feet of distancing between households, whichever is fewer.

While Governor Whitmer’s replacement Executive Order (2020-183) establishes specific guidelines around gathering size based on square footage of various spaces, the four Episcopal dioceses in Michigan believe that our existing directives under Phase II effectively abide by this guidance. Please see the entire Plan for Reentry for Great Lakes Episcopalians.

We will continue to follow our general protocols for COVID-19 safety, which are outlined below. These include: social distancing, contact tracing in the event of a positive COVID-19 diagnosis and mask wearing for all attending any church sanctioned activities. Singing continues to be one of the riskier behaviors when it comes to spreading the virus, so we continue to advise against it.

As the leadership of each congregation considers how you may want to live into this updated information, I share this reality: the safest alternative for worship, meetings and all church gatherings is in a virtual format. I encourage you to continue with online, virtual and hybrid worship opportunities that are safely accessible to all who wish to participate.

In the eighth month of the pandemic, this is a good time to look at the manner in which we continue to create intentional ways to reach out to and engage everyone in our congregations, in addition to our worship services.

Phone calls, emails and hand-written cards are incredibly meaningful ways to reach out to all who may feel isolated or forgotten. Think about sending a note to a neighbor who isn’t a parishioner, as ALL of us are feeling lonely and exasperated these days.

Thank you all for your continued attention to the directives, recommendations and advisories that have come your way over the past few months. I am amazed by the ability of all of our faith communities to pivot, reimagine, adapt and create meaningful opportunities for worship and gathering.

I am grateful for each of you! Please know I am always available for further conversation, should that be helpful.

May God Continue to Bless us and all we endeavor to do in Christ’s Name.

All my best,

 

 

The Rt. Rev. Dr. Bonnie A. Perry
11th Bishop of the Diocese of Michigan


A Recommitment to Our COVID-19 Directive

Dear Friends,

Sadly, the COVID-19 Pandemic continues. This reality is made particularly clear to us today as we learn that 200,000 people in our country have now died from this virus or complications from this virus. Our congregations are not immune, two of our communities have had to reach out to parishioners letting them know that people who had recently tested positive for COVID-19 were present at in-person worship services.

With this in mind, the Episcopal bishops and ecclesiastical authorities in the state of Michigan continue to strongly advise that no more than 10 people, including those people involved in leading, recording and/or live streaming worship services, may be present in the building at the same time.

We further advise refraining from singing when gathered in person. Singing is one of the riskier behaviors when it comes to spreading the virus.

We continue to advise that worship take place on line and/ or outdoors (Outdoor worship must be limited to a maximum number of 100 participants.).

The leadership of the four dioceses in Michigan understand that the Church is not subject to the orders of the state of Michigan. However, we firmly believe that it is our responsibility to “love our neighbors as ourselves”. Given this, we will adhere to the guidelines that Governor Whitmer has prescribed to help keep us all safe.

I am grateful for the many ways that our communities of faith have responded with care and deep concern for everyone living and worshipping around us. Thank you for the thoughtful questions, the detailed planning, and your willingness to reimagine ways for us to be Church.

We will remain steadfast in the days to come and find peace in the blessed assurance of God’s love for each of us.

You remain in my prayers.

In Christ,

 

The Rt. Rev. Dr. Bonnie A. Perry
11th Bishop of the Diocese of Michigan

General Protocols for Congregations

Note: At this time, no changes have been made to the Plan for Reentry for Great Lakes Episcopalians and we remain in Phase II. These recommendations will remain in place until further notice. If you have any questions or concerns please contact me or Canon Jo Ann Hardy at jhardy@edomi.org.

  • Masks are required for all attendees of outdoor or indoor gatherings
  • Hand sanitizer should be available to all participants
  • At least 6 feet of distance, 360*, is required at all times.
  • No more than 25% of building capacity is allowed inside at any time.
  • Those experiencing symptoms of sickness should remain at home
  • A log must be maintained for everyone who attends any event, outdoors or indoors. This is critical for contact tracing in the event of a positive diagnosis
  • Hygiene and cleaning protocols outlined in the Plan for Reentry for Great Lakes Episcopalians
  • No food or beverages are allowed at any event.

Update to COVID-19 Reentry Directive
From the Rt. Rev. Dr. Bonnie A. Perry

Dear Friends,

Due to an increase in COVID-19 cases in the state of Michigan, Governor Whitmer has issued a new Executive Order prohibiting groups greater than ten people from gathering indoors. This order is in effect in our state until further notice.

What does this means for us?

For the safety of all, beginning Monday, August 3, 2020:

The Episcopal bishops and ecclesiastical authorities of the state of Michigan advise that no more than 10 people, including those people involved in leading worship services, videoing and or live streaming worship services, may be present in the building at the same time.

We advise that worship take place outdoors (limit 100 participants) and/or online.

This recommendation will remain in place until further notice. If you have any questions or concerns please contact Canon Hardy at jhardy@edomi.org.

Stay safe!

In Christ,

 

 

The Rt. Rev. Dr. Bonnie A. Perry
11th Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan

Plan for Re-Entry for Great Lakes Episcopalians

 


Previous Update
Effective June 39, 2020 in the Diocese of Michigan

Dear Friends,

I write to let you know that the Michigan Bishops and appropriate Standing Committees have decided that the Episcopal congregations and communities of faith in our state may now enter Phase II of our Plan for Re-Entry for Great Lakes EpiscopaliansOur congregational buildings and facilities may be open as of Monday, June 29, 2020.

There are several updates to our plan for Re-Entry including the ability to offer communion under special, prescribed circumstances, thus I invite you to  “Read, mark, learn and inwardly digest” the revised plan in its entirety.

The section beginning on page 5 of the Revised Plan will offer you an overview of all that is involved and required of each faith community to enter Phase II. Before you offer your first in-person worship service, please submit a plan for your re-opening for review and archiving to Canon Jo Ann Hardy at Jhardy@edomi.org.

If your congregational leadership decides that it is best to delay in-person worship services until we enter Phase III of our Re-Entry plan, I completely support that decision.

So much has happened in our country and in our world in these last three months, and yet the truth of our lives remains, God, in the person of Jesus Christ is with us and remains with us always.  And so we go forward into this new world, this new opportunity to re-create and reform our communities of faith, knowing that in spite of it all we are not and never have been alone.

Our help is in the Name of the Lord.
The maker of heaven and earth,

from this time forth,
and forever more.

In Christ’s Holy Name,
The Rt. Rev. Dr. Bonnie A. Perry
11th Bishop of the Diocese of Michigan

Plan for Re-Entry for Great Lakes Episcopalians


Previous Update
Effective June 15, 2020 in the Diocese of Michigan

  • Church buildings continue to be closed to worship, clergy, staff and ministries
  • Up to 3 people may be in the church sanctuary to live stream or video tape services:
    • Proper social distancing must be used
    • All should wear masks; proper disinfecting required
    • Preacher/presider must be at least 30 feet from others, if unmasked
    • Singing/chanting is not recommended
  • Please email congregational re-entry plans to: Canon Jo Ann Hardy – jhardy@edomi.org