Saturday, May 9, 2020


On May 7, 2020, the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina issued rules for the re-opening of churches in the diocese. Find the document here .

The paper has three parts, indoor worship, outdoor worship, and a sample letter to the members. The first two parts are divided into "Requirements" and "Recommendations." Overall, it is stringent. In fact, it is more stringent than the CDC guidelines for re-opening that were reportedly killed by the White House on Apr. 30 for being too stringent. Find the CDC guide here . 

The most important part of the new ADSC guide is the section on requirements for indoor worship. They are clear, detailed and quite restrictive. I see only a few items I would change. First of all, the officials would know how many people can be seated in the pews with the distancing in place. The ushers at the door should count the incoming attendees and send the excess to another place, as an outside location or parish house. Secondly, there should be no shared books in the pews. Instead, the service should be printed in a one-use disposable bulletin. Also, the ADSC requirements say "no coffee hour." Actually, the CDC guidelines do not suspend coffee hour or meals. They suggest individual service of food and drink. Since coffee hour is traditionally an important part of Sunday services, it seems that churches should find ways to offer it while keeping the rules. Also, if attendees are to wear face masks, the church should provide fresh masks for those who arrive without them. Too, "no congregational singing" is unclear. Does that mean no choir? The CDC guidelines say no choirs.

The Anglican Diocese is to be commended for this thoughtful and thorough directive for re-opening. It is in the spirit of taking all the protective measures reasonable to resume public worship. It is more restrictive than the CDC recommendations. In my view, this is the right attitude. It is the right action. It is better to err on the side of caution. We know that the coronavirus is highly contagious and deadly. We need look no farther than St. Andrew's of Mt. Pleasant to see that. So, a word of thanks to ADSC for setting a model that others should consider following as churches approach the difficult decisions about when and how to reopen.

As always, remember we are here for the living of this hour, as dark and frightening as it is. Peace.