As more churches begin to open for in-person worship in a new phase of the coronavirus pandemic, an interdisciplinary, ecumenical consultation co-convened by Associate Professor of Historical Theology and Christian Worship L. Edward Phillips has released its final guidance on worshiping safely during COVID-19.
Made up of theologians, scientists, doctors, bishops, pastors, and practitioners from multiple denominations who have developed medically sound and theologically informed recommendations for in-person worship and sacramental practice during the pandemic, the Ecumenical Protocols for Worship, Fellowship, and Sacramental Practices published its first guidance in June 2020.
On June 8, 2021 the consultation released “Care-filled Worship and Sacramental Life in a Lingering Pandemic,” a 35-page document that offers direction on worship, rituals, administering sacraments, weddings, funerals, singing, and more. Overall, Phillips says, it takes a conservative approach, knowing that congregations most likely include both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals.
“We will for some time have people who are not vaccinated yet,” Phillips told Religion News Service. “And what we don’t want to do is to engage in any kind of stigmatization, or public shaming of people who are not vaccinated for whatever reason it may be.”
“Different congregations will determine different approaches to what they consider safe and what levels of risk they’re willing to take,” he said.
A Spanish version of the consultation’s final guidance will be available in July. Access the guidance in English here.