May 18, 2021
Dear clergy and wardens,
On June 11, 2020, the Episcopal Diocese of Ohio published a comprehensive set of protocols for return to in-person parish worship, church meetings, church school, youth groups, and other formation opportunities. In the nearly twelve months since, we have provided additional guidance as conditions changed. As the number of fully-vaccinated communicants increases, and having reviewed the recent guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Governor’s office, we are issuing new guidelines that replace all of the previous protocols and guidelines, effective Sunday, May 23, 2021.
Although the CDC guidelines allow fully-vaccinated persons to participate in many activities without masks, it is our Christian responsibility to care for “the least of these,” which includes those who are not yet vaccinated, children, others who are particularly vulnerable.
We will continue to monitor this ever-changing situation to ensure that our parishioners, visitors, and those who use our facilities do so in a safe and responsible way. Local church leaders should continue to make decisions that make sense for their congregation and community.
Emerging from the isolation and restrictions of this pandemic will present new challenges and require of each of us continued patience and thoughtful deliberation. These changes to our coronavirus protocols imply no expectation that congregations will implement them immediately. Rather, they outline what is possible moving forward and provide guidance in the decision-making required. As clergy and lay leaders, you will know what path and timing will most benefit your congregation. Please feel free to share this letter with your communicants, as you feel appropriate. The Guidelines will be posted on the Diocesan website at the end of the week.
If you have questions or seek assistance in any aspect of returning to in-person gathering, please do not hesitate to contact the Rev. Brad Purdom, me, or any member of the Bishop’s Staff.
The Rt. Rev. Mark Hollingsworth, Jr.
Bishop of Ohio