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Updates from the Diocesan Restart Team

Streaming Services from Sanctuaries
Effective March 24, 2021

In light of recent revisions to the State of Vermont COVID-19 guidelines, congregational leaders are now permitted to stream services from their sanctuaries with the following provisions:

  • With the consent of the clergy and vestry or bishop’s committee, a maximum of four people may gather if at least three of them are fully vaccinated. This means that they should have received either both doses of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, or the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and should also have waited for two weeks for full immunity to take effect. Only one person in this group of four or fewer may be unvaccinated. The group might typically include clergy, musicians, wardens or liturgical assistants or readers.
  • Everyone must be masked unless everyone present is fully vaccinated and no one is at high risk of severe COVID-19 or living with someone who is at high risk.
  • Everyone must observe 6 feet of social distance, unless everyone present is fully vaccinated and no one is at high risk of severe COVID-19 or living with someone who is at high risk.
  • Singing is not permitted.
  • The space must be adequately ventilated.  

As a reminder to all, we follow CDC and Vermont state guidelines as our minimum standards, while taking a more cautious approach in applying many of them in our church context. 

Opening Sanctuaries for Prayer
Effective April 4, 2021

With the agreement of clergy and vestries, congregations in the Diocese of Vermont may set days and times for individual and household prayer in church sanctuaries beginning in Eastertide. 

  • This is for individual and household private prayer and meditation only, and is not intended for public services
  • Those coming to pray together must be living together in a single household. Family members who are not living in the same household will not be permitted to visit the sanctuary at the same time. 
  • There should be an hour between the time one individual or household leaves the space and the next individual or household enters, in order to minimize risk of spreading the coronavirus. Masks should be worn to minimize the risk of virus transmission. Singing is not permitted. 
  • Parishes can institute a sign-up system of their choice in order to ensure the sanctuary will be used by only one person or family group at a time and that an hour will elapse before the next occupancy.* Online reservation systems such as SignUpGenius may be useful. Parishes offering the sanctuary for prayer should publicize this guidance for their members and stress our concern for the health and safety of all. 
  • Parishes are encouraged to inform the Restart Team of the Diocese of Vermont if they elect to open their sanctuaries for prayer, and provide details of the days, times and sign up method, but this is not required. 

Please feel free to contact the Restart Team if you have any questions or concerns about this matter. Thank you for your help as we seek to open our churches in a safe and prayerful manner. 

*While these guidelines suggest “one hour” for ventilating spaces between uses, we recognize that in some situations a full hour may not be necessary and in others it may not be enough. We strongly encourage clergy and local vestries to begin evaluating their own spaces with respect to safe and adequate ventilation, set their own standards, and begin taking such action as may be needed to address any inadequacies in their spaces.

Audit Guidelines for Parishes
Effective March 24, 2021

In light of the Department of Health’s changes in guidelines to allow vaccinated individuals/households to gather in person, parish audits (for 2019 and 2020) may be completed under the following guidelines. 

  • With the consent of clergy and vestry leaders, audit committees of up to five people, including no more than one individual who has not been fully vaccinated, may work in the parish hall or other large space to allow for distancing. Meeting in private homes is not recommended.
  • Masks should be worn, and a distance of 6 feet between individuals should be maintained. 
  • Adequate ventilation of the space should also be considered.  
  • Teams may wish to schedule multiple work sessions over the course of several days so as to limit the time spent in the building on a particular day. If multiple sessions are to occur on the same day, a minimum of one hour between the end of one and the beginning of another is required.
  • Teams should also continue to follow the parish’s existing procedures for signing into the building.  
  • We recommend completing as much of the audit virtually as is possible, but we do recognize that not everyone has the capacity to do so. 

Read these updates on the diocesan website.

Copyright © 2019 – 2021 The Episcopal Church in Vermont.