Tuesday, March 23rd, 2021
My siblings in Christ,
As we prepare our hearts to journey with Jesus to Jerusalem, the Upper Room, Gethsemane, his trials, Calvary, and the tomb, we do so with the knowledge that the hope of the resurrection awaits us on the other side. Throughout our pandemic journey we have looked in hope to what awaits us on the other side, in particular a hope that we might not only worship together but also raise our voices in songs of praise.
Congregations may sing outdoors starting Easter Sunday, remembering that it still safer not to gather in-person and to avoid any activities that increase the risk of being together. This determination is based on the latest guidance as well as advice from the diocese's Health Committee.
Should you wish to sing it is important that in addition to maintaining distancing of 6-feet or more that everyone wear a well-fitting mask of at least the 3-layer surgical variety rated to trap 98% or more of particles. This includes ASTM Level 3, KN95, N95 or equivalent. All are readily available online and in stores. Simple cloth masks simply do not do enough to limit the spread of aerosols which are projected in both greater quantity and at greater distance when singing. If you plan to allow congregational singing, we recommend you have extra masks that meet these standards on hand to give to anyone who may need to upgrade their mask.
Indoor congregational singing is still not safe at this time. We continue to closely study the science and the numbers and will update you as we learn more. However, we do know that in addition to distance and proper masking, ventilation and filtration are of critical importance. Your diocesan staff is compiling a list of resources to assist our churches in evaluating and upgrading their HVAC systems and we will share this with you as soon as it becomes available. Please remember that if you gather indoors for worship or any other activity, in addition to all other protocols, please be sure to both maximize your ventilation and minimize the length of time you are together.
All other protocols from my Holy Week and Easter guidance remain in effect. I will be offering the next round of updates in the middle of April. This should include guidance on Vacation Bible School, food and other activities.
As we continue our journey together let us all look in hope to the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. I hold you all in my daily prayers and am grateful for your faithfulness.
The Rt. Rev. Daniel G. P. Gutiérrez
XVI Bishop of The Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania