"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13
My siblings in Christ,
As we celebrate the Epiphany, we come to our Lord on bended knees and with open hearts. We offer our gratitude for the awakening of hope in the coming year. We are uplifted by the hope of a vaccine and the eventual end to this terrible pandemic. But as we look forward in excitement for God to transform our pain and loss into joy, we must temper our expectation with wisdom.
We have been in a modified Phase I restrictions since mid-December. After prayerful consideration we will continue these restrictions through January 15. Barring an additional rise, it is my expectation that churches may resume in-person worship under our modified Phase II protocols starting January 16. I also give permission to those of wish to observe the Feast of the Epiphany in-person to transfer its celebration to that weekend.
All churches should continue to offer only virtual worship with a maximum of 10 people physically present through January 15. If additional persons, such as musicians, are desired, this may be considered on a case-by-case basis. Exceptions for weddings, funerals and other pastoral services will also continue to be considered on a case-by-case basis.
2021 is filled new possibilities. In Jesus Christ all things are made new. As one diocesan family let us hold onto this hope and continue to press forward. Let us persevere in caring for one another so that together we may rejoice in the light of our greatest hope, Jesus Christ.
The Rt. Rev. Daniel G. P. Gutiérrez
XVI Bishop of The Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania