Last updated: 15 May 2020
As developments around the coronavirus continue to manifest at a rapid rate, the Diocese of North Carolina continues to do all it can to help stem the spread and support our churches. Please visit this page often, as we will keep it updated with the latest status on a number of fronts.
The Diocese remains committed to following physical distancing practices and doing all we can to ensure the health and safety of our brothers and sisters. As we have said all along, we are following the recommendations of both the medical experts and health authorities to do all we can to help stem the spread of the coronavirus, and so even as we look ahead to the journey toward reopening, as of today, the suspension of in-person worship and gatherings is extended at least through July 1, 2020. Read the reopening plan or download the PowerPoint presentation.
THE 50 DAYS OF EASTER
The Diocese of North Carolina is continuing to share offerings throughout the 50 Days of Easter.
- Sundays, 10a.m. - Sunday Worship (Morning Prayer and sermon) (Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo)
- Sundays, 1p.m. - Oración en Tiempos de Pandemia with the Rev. Daniel Robayo, diocesan missioner for Latino/Hispanic ministry (in Spanish) (Facebook)
- Sundays, 6p.m. - Sermon from the morning worship (Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo)
- Tuesdays, 12p.m. - Noonday Prayer (Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo)
Many churches are choosing to livestream worship services incorporate other technology to keep communities connected. (Read here for some great ideas.) In an effort to ensure this effort is maximized in terms of improving safety, the following parameters are to be followed:
- The maximum number of people assisting with the
livestream worship is six:
- 2 Video crew (1 camera person + 1 audio person; note: if the broadcast is managed by one person, this does not mean adding an extra person below)
- 2 Musicians (1 Organist or Pianist + 1 Cantor or Singer)
- 1 Lector or 1 Server (priest, deacon or lay)
- 1 Celebrant or Officiant (priest, deacon or lay officiant); this person will also serve as preacher
- Multi-clergy parishes should rotate celebrants and lectors or consider assigning different staff members to cover different online offering (e.g. Eucharist, daily offices and formation.)
- Communion: The use of the common cup is to be suspended until this crisis has passed. Communion is to be offered in one kind, bread only and should be administered by the celebrant alone. Wine will be consecrated by the celebrant but not consumed during the service. Following the service, the normal practices of the parish will be followed concerning the consecrated wine and bread. The celebrant should visibly wash and sanitize their hands before consecrating and distributing the bread.
- Log everyone involved: every one of the 5-6 people assisting with the livestreaming should be signed in with contact information to ensure should someone become infected, exposure can be tracked and quarantined. Everyone involved should maintain effective physical distancing and ongoing self-monitoring around their health at all times.
ONLINE VESTRY MEETINGS
One area of concern for many churches is the ability of vestries to meet online and meet canonical requirements, especially as this is necessary while in-person meetings are suspended. Diocesan Canon 33.1 does permit vestries to adopt by-laws that authorize meetings by teleconference. If your vestry has not yet adopted this by-law, please read here for instructions on how to do so.
EUCHARISTIC / PASTORAL VISITS
For now, all home visits are suspended while the Diocese researches best safety practices and alternatives to allow the pastoral care to continue without undue risk to either party and, by extension, the wider community. We understand this is an area of deep concern for our clergy and lay pastors. It is our sincere hope to have a protocol in place that will allow visits to resume before this eight-week time frame elapses; we are actively consulting with medical experts and church leaders to find ways to make this happen.
In the interim, we encourage you to coordinate with chaplains at hospitals and assisted living facilities to provide pastoral counsel to parishioners in their care.
The suspension of lay Eucharistic home visits was put in place last week as they put both the visitor and parishioner at risk. We highly encourage clergy, lay ministers and all parishioners to employ phone calls and utilize video conferencing technology like Zoom and Google Hangouts to conduct pastoral and social visits; all are a great way to stay connected.
This is a unique area, as it is one of the few situations where closings are not yet mandated. We understand the discernment faced by those providing direct life-giving services such as food pantries, feeding ministries, diaper banks and medical resources.
At this time, we are not directing any ministry to close or stay open. This is a discernment you must do around the health and safety of your workers, volunteers and clients, and we will support the decision you make. For those that continue, we direct such ministries to restructure as necessary after consulting with experts in the respective ministry areas to ensure best practices in this public health crisis context.
Best practices collected from around the diocese are available here.
Any non-essential gatherings should be cancelled, postponed or moved online.
Funerals present a particularly difficult challenge, and there are no easy solutions. Please be in touch with your local funeral director as well as hospice providers. Postpone any public gathering for a memorial service at a later time, and no one should travel for either memorial or private burial. Graveside services can probably be conducted with appropriate social distancing and other precautions. We hope to be providing clearer, more specific guidance soon.
STAFFS AND SCHOOLS
We highly recommend that church staff members, as much as possible, be allowed to work from home.
Parochial schools and daycare facilities should follow the recommendations and decisions of your county schools and county health officials. All public schools are currently closed by order of Governor Roy Cooper.
The Diocese understands the financial ramifications not just of the suspension of services, but the pandemic as a whole, and we are working to help alleviate that strain. Now is the time to start paying attention and making adjustments, and the Diocese has created a financial guidance and resource page to get you started in a number of different areas.
First and foremost, we encourage everyone to continue to support their congregations by the methods provided by their congregations. Honor your pledges, and take advantage of the online giving options many churches have available.
For those churches who do not have online options available, the Diocese has created a giving option to help gather donations. By using the diocesan link, donors may designate their giving for a specific church, or they may donate to a general fund to be used to relieve financial stress as the Diocese designates to do so. If your parish is facing an immediate financial challenge, please contact the Rev. Canon David Sellery, canon for congregational mission, at 919-834-7474 x.5303.