Bishop Cynthia Moore Koikoi emailed the following letter to clergy and church leaders late Friday, May 22, 2020.
Dear Siblings in Christ,
In a statement issued Friday morning, President Trump asked governors to allow churches to reopen. Fortunately, at the beginning of his stay-at-home order, Governor Wolf designated churches, mosques, and temples as “life sustaining businesses”. Therefore, they could remain open with specific guidelines in place. Those guidelines were determined by whether the church, mosque, or temple was located in a county in the red, yellow, or green phase.
I am grateful for the fact that churches in Western Pennsylvania have been creative, continuing ministry and remaining “open” in spite of the fact that we could not meet in person in large gatherings.
Governor Wolf recently added some further guidance to his order. Religious organizations in the yellow phase, while not required to limit their gatherings to 25, are strongly encouraged to have no more than 25 people. The state health department guidelines also limit gatherings to no more than 25.
Our guidance to you remains the same. You must follow governmental laws and official health guidelines. Please continue to have conversations with your church leadership and your District Superintendent as you make decisions about how and when to reintegrate in-person worship to your ministry.
Peace and Blessings,
Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi
NOTE: The take-aways from the May 13 Clergy Zoom Conversation with Dr. Jessica Price and other members of the WPAUMC Abundant Health Team may provide additional clarity on reasons for health and safety guidelines.