Guidelines from His Grace Bishop Maxim during the Pandemic

Update to All Clergy Regarding the Coronavirus, Covid-19

As America faces this unprecedented global Coronavirus, Covid-19, and committed to providing guidance during this crisis and fulfilling our common duty to ensure the safety of everyone, we are providing this update to our clergy. 
Since at this time, our federal, state and local government guidelines and restrictions do not allow us to congregate in larger numbers, and in order for us to do our part in combatting this pandemic, the following updated provisions were established for all parishes of the Western American Diocese, effective immediately and until further notice:

  • All parishes must cancel all non-liturgical activities and social functions.
  • For us the Eucharist is an essential parameter of our faith. The Church is conceived as the place where man can get a taste of his eternal destiny, which is communion in God’s very life. The Eucharist as sacrament offers this foretaste. Any distancing from this sacrament is certainly painful for every Orthodox Christian. Thus, beginning this Sunday, March 22, and until further notice, the Divine Liturgy will be celebrated only by the priest and two chanters/readers. Since it is Great Lent, the priest may prepare a second lamb, as we would do for the Liturgy of Presanctified Gifts, which then can be used on weekdays in order to give the faithful access to the Life-Creating Mysteries of Christ, and not deprive them from the Sacrament in a troubling time. This must however be done in accordance with the guidelines previously set forth.
  • As in your own personal prayer rule, so also in all services, add special prayers asking God to deliver us from this impending threat of the Coronavirus; that He send His angel to watch over us and protect us, and grant health and recovery to those suffering from this virus. Let us also ask that He bless the ministry of all the clergy, and guide the hands of physicians, nurses and caregivers, and inspire the scientists and researchers in search of a vaccine, who together are laboring to bring healing and relief to those who are suffering from this virus.
  • Parishes who use technology to livestream the divine services must consult with the bishop regarding their proper use and distribution.
  • All measures to ensure the cleaning and sanitizing of all church facilities must continue according to the standards and guidelines of the CDC and your local Health Department.
  • Though we are not permitted to congregate, we must nonetheless embrace this time as an opportunity to do all that we can to increase our care for one another and for our people and the greater community around us. 

Let us remind ourselves and our faithful that the Church is that to which we all surrender ourselves in humble obedience. She gives us our name, our identity, and so many blessings, and leads us to God’s Kingdom. The Church, also, tells us when to fast or when not to fast, and we listen and do our best to obey Her instruction. Likewise, when the Church now gives us the instructions set forth here, we listen to Her and do our best to obey Her instructions.
May our Lord grant that we continue our Lenten journey to Pascha with faith and courage as we make these necessary sacrifices in humble obedience for the physical and spiritual well-being of all.

Source: Western American Diocese