July 31, 2021: As reported on Tuesday, the COVID-19 Reentering, Reopening, Reimagining (RRR) Task Force appointed by Bishop Stokes is recommending a return to wearing masks for indoor congregational functions.
“Sadly, the numbers have been rising in all counties in the diocese so we are urging congregations to return to wearing masks for indoor worship and other church activities,” wrote Bishop Stokes in his Twitter account. “This is how we show love and protect the vulnerable.”
In response to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s recommendations of July 27, 2021, due to the rising levels of infections of COVID-19, the RRR Task Force is recommending congregations return to requiring face masks that fully cover the nose and mouth for indoor activities for all worship attendees and outside group participants immediately, regardless of vaccination status, in counties where the infection rate is more than 5 per 100K (check https://covidactnow.org/) or where the community transmission is moderate or above (check https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#county-view). Currently, this includes all the counties in the Diocese of New Jersey.
Congregational singing is allowed with the use of face masks.
Congregational leadership can decide about local practices for offering communion, pastoral support, formation classes/programs (including Vacation Bible School), and fellowship activities. Fellowship activities that involve removing one’s face mask are not encouraged.