Brothers and sisters,
Governmental authorities have begun to relax restrictions on shelter in place orders. Lay leaders and clergy have requested guidance regarding the timeframe for reopening our church buildings. There are many things to consider in this decision. The health of those who live and work in West Tennessee is my foremost priority. I have been monitoring the various directives from local, state and national health officials regarding best practices during this pandemic.
As we contemplate the resumption of in person worship, I want to allow sufficient time for planning and preparation by the leadership of our faith communities. Therefore, in person worship can begin on June 1 unless health authorities recommend a delay in the next couple of weeks. I ask each congregation to utilize the month of May to finalize your plans and share those plans with the diocesan office.
Some of our faith communities will offer weekday services the first week of June while others will resume worship on Trinity Sunday, June 7. Some may need additional planning time and will regather later that month. During the month of June, we will focus on Morning Prayer services. Other activities including coffee hour, Christian formation, nursery service and the use of our buildings by outside groups will not be permitted.
In the next week, we will share more detailed guidelines with our church leaders. We continue to receive updates from local health departments so the June 1 reentry date may be modified. I appreciate your flexibility during these challenging times.
May we continue to pray for all of those impacted by the coronavirus.
The Rt. Rev. Phoebe Roaf