Greetings, beloved in Christ!
As I am sure you have seen, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have recently announced an easing of mask mandates in the United States for individuals who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, except in establishments that still require them. The CDC has also said that fully vaccinated people no longer need to practice social distancing when in public spaces. A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the last dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
So, how does this impact our congregations?
Moving forward, according to CDC, it is now safe for fully vaccinated people to gather in worship without masks or distancing. Those who have not yet received the vaccine will need to continue practicing social distancing and wearing masks. Those with compromised immune systems should talk to their doctor and use caution before resuming normal activities.
Resuming activities such as passing the peace and offering communion is at the discretion of congregational leadership. We ask that hand sanitizer is kept readily available for attendees, and that strict cleaning protocols are still maintained between services. It would also be wise, if possible, to continue to offer a section of your sanctuary for those individuals who wish to continue social distancing.
I trust your judgement in making the best decision for your congregation. If you would like additional input on safety, please contact the Director for Evangelical Mission for your region. I also encourage you to check local and federal health updates daily. We will share updated resources in the E-Spirit newsletter and on our fbsynod.com website as they become available.
As your Bishop, I deeply appreciate your leadership throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Thank you for staying informed and making wise decisions during this tremendously difficult time. Remember that your synod office is here for you and your congregations. If you have any questions, concerns, or prayer requests, please do not hesitate to call.
For now, may the Lord bless you, keep you, and guide you in this time.
+ Bp. Pedro
The Rev. Pedro M. Suarez, Bishop
Florida-Bahamas Synod, ELCA