I am so grateful for your leadership in the trying months that we have been out of our church buildings. I often refer to our congregations, scattered about central and southern Indiana as aid stations of hope and healing, and that description and mission has never been more true than it is now. It is time for us to begin careful consideration of when we should resume worshipping in our church buildings, and what conditions must be met before we proceed.
In this document (español), you will find a set of questions and recommendations that will help you develop a plan for reopening your churches for in-person worship, a plan I must approve before in-person worship begins.
You may be aware that Governor Holcomb has provided a calendar for opening up elements of economic and civic life in Indiana. But our task is not the same as his, and so we will proceed in a different way. Rather than rely on the date-specific timetable, I will base my decisions about reopening on certain county-level public health metrics (enumerated in the document), and on each congregation’s ability to meet a set of standards that will ensure we are conducting in-person worship as safely as possible.
We will, under no circumstances, convene in-person gatherings in communities where they are prohibited for public health reasons, but we can resume weeks or even months later than the state permits if that is what is necessary to keep our people safe.
I hope the resources presented here (español) will help us make our way back to in-person gathering with care for each congregation’s specific context and awareness of public health situations in counties across Indiana. We will update the recommendations and standards frequently as conditions evolve. My staff and I are here at every turn to support you as you assess the situation in your community and how your congregation is called to respond.
Even though we may return to our buildings at different times and in different ways, know that all of us in the Diocese of Indianapolis are bound to one another, and what is happening in one part of our diocese matters to every other part. As we work our way through the process of reopening, know that my highest priority is that we are guided by our mission commitments to be connected to one another and to care for the vulnerable and marginalized among us. Our call to be beacons of Christ is not diminished.
Especially now, I am grateful for your faithful witness. Thank you for your ministry in these extraordinary times.