The Rt. Rev. Andrew ML Dietsche, Bishop of New York, today announced the continued suspension of public worship in the Diocese of New York until July 1, 2020.
In an email sent this morning to the clergy of the diocese, he wrote as follows:
“In March, when I suspended public worship in the Diocese of New York until May 17, I followed the CDC guidelines which asked that we avoid public gatherings for eight weeks. But we are now going into May, and many of you have asked when we might look to the re-opening of our churches. It is clear to us that we will still be through the month of May, in an active, though perhaps waning pandemic, and we know that the period of suspension of public worship must be extended. We three bishops in the Diocese of New York are in conversation with the bishops in the Diocese of Long Island, so that the two dioceses which overlap New York City and the surrounding area may coordinate our decisions.
“We have come to the conclusion that a new target for re-opening our churches for worship can be no sooner than the end of June. Therefore, with this letter, I am directing that public worship in the Diocese of New York continue in suspension until July 1. We know that whenever we resume public worship we will do so while the epidemic of COVID-19 continues around us, but at the threshold of May the state of New York is still seeing four to six thousand new cases every day, and the bulk of those cases are clustered in the dioceses of New York and Long Island. We know that the beginning of a return to ordinary life will bring a new surge in cases of the virus, and we must do everything we can not to contribute to that, and everything we can to keep our people safe.
“This decision is subject to the changes which may come in an evolving story, and all decisions will be made in light of the guidelines and directions we receive from public health officials and the Governor of New York.
“During May and June, we will be studying ways in which we can come back together for worship in July under the limitations which will certainly still be placed on public gatherings, including the use of masks and distancing. We are anticipating a period during which we will need to hold more services with fewer people in attendance, both at church and in homes. Bishop Allen will be particularly involved in the development of models of adaptive ministry. We are anticipating that until there are effective therapies to treat COVID-19, and a vaccine, we will need to continue our congregational lives under modified conditions. Well before we begin to resume public worship, I will write to you again with directions for a phased return to public worship and the re-opening of our churches.”