Wednesday, January 5th, 2022
"For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39
My siblings in Christ,
In response to the current Omicron surge, many churches have taken steps to limit in-person activity. I continue to empower church leadership to take what steps they deem necessary to protect their people. In addition to all of our previously published guidance I urge you to consider the following:
For the clergy: I am issuing a pastoral directive. If a clergy person has tested positive and they do not have another clergy person or lay leader to lead their worship services for the week, then the church should go virtual for that week or they should direct their people to another Episcopal church service. After that, they should follow the CDC’s guidance as to when they can return to public activity. If your symptoms persist and you are unable to safely return to public activity, please contact the Offices of the Diocese for assistance.
Testing: I am aware that at-home tests are increasingly hard to find and that PCR tests are taking longer both to schedule and produce results. As part of our commitment to support you, we have been able to procure a small number of at-home test kits through a partnership we developed with a pharmacy.
Due to high demand, we can only make these kits available to clergy (or the primary lay worship leader of a church without regular clergy) and essential outreach workers. If you fall into one of those categories and:
If you are exposed or test positive: Because exposure and positive tests are increasingly common, even among fully vaccinated and boosted individuals, it is important for you to know what to do. The CDC has offered detailed guidance for what to do in the event of exposure to someone who has COVID and what to do if you test positive. What follows is a brief overview of their guidance.
If you have been exposed via close contact (being 6 feet or less away from the person for a total of 15 minutes in a 24-hour period) with a COVID positive person you should:
If you have tested positive, you should:
Please also note that the CDC’s guidance is subject to changes as they have already updated their recent guidance once this past week. Further, I know that there is some public disagreement among experts around the new CDC guidance. If you are concerned as to what to do please contact your healthcare provider.
Over the past 22 months, we have accomplished incredible things together. And that holy work continues even now. For so long as we are bound together by the love of Jesus Christ, nothing can overcome us.
I am blessed to be your bishop.
The Rt. Reverend Daniel G. P. Gutiérrez
XVI Bishop of The Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania