Deans' Note June 20, 2021

Over the weeks since we have returned to congregational worship in the Cathedral, we have experienced a gradual softening of the restrictions put in place to ensure our health. In Los Angeles, Covid cases continue to decline and vaccines have continued to prove effective in significantly slowing the spread of disease. This past week our governor has officially ended many of the mandates previously put in place regarding social distancing and mask-wearing in public gatherings.

Our Bishop, informed by a council of advice drawn from across the diocese (of which Fr. Mark is a member) has been monitoring the situation throughout the pandemic to make decisions about protocols for public worship based on health recommendations rather than political expediency. All of the policies he has put forward have been thoughtful, sensible, and conservative in an effort to protect God's people.

On Monday, Bishop Taylor issued the hopeful pastoral response many of us have been waiting for. Beginning this Sunday, vaccinated people will be allowed to worship without face coverings and will no longer need to maintain social distance in worship. Members of the congregation are also invited to sing congregational hymns even without masks. We will still continue to refrain from the common cup and communion will be distributed in only one kind (as per a directive from Presiding Bishop Curry). Other elements are available in the full letter linked in this edition of the update.

Most of us may find this welcome news, and others may have a more anxious response. We may not be ready to take this next step. In no way are these new protocols absolute. In other words, if you are more comfortable wearing a mask, please continue to do so. You can opt not to wear one as you prefer as well.

We are re-learning what it's like to be back together physically as Christ's body at St. John's, and so we bear one another's burdens allowing each of us the space and the grace to move at our own pace. We continue to expect that everyone who can be vaccinated will be if they attend public worship, but if you have not been we ask you to continue to worship online.

We also know that there are families in our congregation with children too young to be vaccinated as yet. There are specific recommendations as to how we keep children safe while at church in the Bishop's protocols.

This next step will be a blessing. We will finally see each other's faces again. As we look beyond the masks, may we use this experience to look more deeply at one another, not at the masks we wear, or that others place on us, but as we each truly are, God's beloved children and siblings in Christ.