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To all the Faithful in the Diocese of Olympia,

To say this past year has been interesting hardly covers it, but indeed it was. Both pandemics of COVID and Racial Injustice have tested us as a country, a people, and a Church. I cannot commend you enough for the way you all worked together, with me, and with those locally to keep our people safe. I want to sincerely thank you for that.

As the miraculous vaccines have come online and been utilized we see some vestige of normality on the horizon. One major sign of that is the full reopening of our state. With that, I am sending this notice to all congregations that it is now up to you as to how you wish to proceed locally. As you decide this I want to reiterate several things.

Perhaps the most welcome news from me today might be this. You may resume the use of the common cup and distributing wine at Eucharist if you choose. You may resume this immediately.

If you have not put water in your baptismal fonts you may also now do that. Essentially, all restrictions are lifted, and now continuation is left to the local congregational leadership. As always I am happy to consult or to answer questions although I am on vacation right now, and will be back on July 7. However, I wanted to get this news out to you now.

Should you decide to maintain restrictions locally I will completely support that decision. Some of you have asked my feelings or my opinion about lifting all restrictions. I have shared these readily and will here so you have my thinking. Again, you may follow it or not.

Personally, if I were leading a local congregation, I would continue masking, distancing, and other locally specific restrictions until every single soul in our churches have access and are eligible for a vaccine. Currently this is not the case as all of those under 12 do not have access. I believe we still have a duty to protect this population and so I would continue these precautions until the moment when all can be vaccinated. I know many of you have already made this decision. I think this especially as we see the Delta variant spreading so rapidly right now. Again, if you have questions, please do not hesitate to ask.

Again, you have my heartfelt gratitude for the way you navigated this most interesting past year and continued to be Church. I believe we will come out of this even stronger thanks to your efforts and care.

Blessings to all,

+Greg

Lifting COVID Restrictions in the Diocese of Olympia

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