Dear Friends in Christ,
I want to thank everyone for your patience and cooperation as we continue to try to adjust to the impact of COVID-19 on our worship services and the wider life and ministry of the Church throughout the Diocese of Albany. I greatly appreciate the leadership of the clergy and lay leaders as they work to discern how best to minister to and meet the spiritual needs of those entrusted to their care.
Many of our parishes have been able to resume holding public services, while abiding by the social distancing regulations and current 33 percent seating capacity limit set by the State. A few of our parishes, to include several of our summer chapels, have not yet been able to resume public services.
In an effort to minister to those who are unable to come to church, several parishes are offering on-line services (both recorded and live-streamed). In addition, a weekly Holy Communion Service produced at Christ the King Center is being offered for those individuals (both within and outside the Diocese) whose parishes don’t have recording capabilities, as well as those who like a variety of worship experiences.
I am so appreciative to all the clergy and musicians from around the Diocese who have been assisting with these services, providing excellent preaching and music, and to Christopher Fitz and Warren Wright-Sedam for their technical expertise and the sacrificial gift of their time and energy in producing these services. The on-line services, both at the parish and diocesan level, continue to be a huge blessing, enabling us to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ and minister to countless individuals we would never have reached otherwise. Again, my most sincere thanks to everyone who has helped make this possible.
One of the greatest concerns that many of you have raised around the Diocese, is the difficulty of wearing masks throughout the entire service. After hearing your concerns, as well as reviewing the updated guidelines from the New York State Department of Health (which allow for the removal of masks while seated), I am hereby lifting the diocesan requirement to wear masks while seated in pews, provided the social distancing guideline (of a six foot separation between non-family members) is maintained. With that said, please note that the ordained and lay leadership of each parish may choose NOT to remove the requirement of wearing masks while seated, if they believe the unique circumstances of their parish are best served by everyone continuing to wear masks whether seated or not.
In either case, face masks are still required to be worn whenever you are up moving around the Church in the aisles or other locations where a six foot separation is not possible. In addition, masks are still required when you are singing (whether seated or standing), unless you are a soloist separated from the rest of the congregation by at least 10 feet.
In order to assure the physical health and wellbeing of everyone in our churches during the Coronavirus Pandemic, all other Diocesan Guidelines remain in effect until further notice.
Faithfully Your Brother in Christ,
Bishop of Albany