Updated: April 19, 2021 1:30 pm PST
As we continue to monitor the situation with the COVID-19 virus, watching for signals from national, state, and local officials and listening carefully to leaders in our neighboring states and dioceses, the Episcopal Diocese of Oregon is committed to do all in our power to slow the progress of the spread of this virus.
This page will be updated frequently with news and resources for the churches of our diocese. Please check back regularly for pastoral instructions from Bishop Diana, information on participating in online worship, and other helpful links from The Episcopal Church and other organizations.
COVID-19 Vaccines are being administered in Oregon. The vaccines are safe and will help to bring this pandemic to an end once everyone is vaccinated. It is important to note that if you are vaccinated it is important that you continue to practice safe protocols: wear your mask, wash your hands, stay home, keep your distance from others if you are out, avoid crowds, etc. We have included more information regarding vaccines below. This sheet from the Oregon Health Authority is a very helpful place to begin.Watch the video ¡Ya me vacuné! - I got the vaccine! to see some of our friends in the Latino community around the Diocese of Oregon talk about receiving the vaccine.
Diocesan staff will continue to work remotely and can be reached during regular business hours through their diocesan email addresses and phone numbers. Click here for staff contact information.
Some churches in the diocese will remain closed for public worship services and meetings until further notice. Many are holding online worship and prayer services. Click here for a list of those services. Outreach programs and feeding ministries may continue as essential services only if they can be conducted in ways that comply with the safety procedures for proper distancing and sanitizing. Please check with individual churches on the status of their food pantries, community meals, and other programs.
April 19, 2021
The increased number of individuals receiving vaccinations bring us closer to achieving herd immunity and thus the reopening of our faith communities becomes closer.
Re-opening parishes for in-person worship is on a case-by-case basis in consultation with the clergy and/or lay leadership of the parish and Bishop Akiyama. Bishop Akiyama will continue to take a more conservative approach towards a general statement regarding opening all parishes in the diocese, as some communities are in counties rated “high-risk” and others are “low-risk” by OHA. In addition, some small congregations in “low-risk” counties have fully vaccinated members and are able to gather while practicing the protocols around safe distancing and wearing masks in their worship spaces. The steps towards safely opening our parishes is an ongoing conversation Bishop Akiyama is having with clergy on their bi-weekly calls. In all instances, Holy Eucharist, if celebrated, ought to be distributed in one kind only.
What can you do? Consider getting the vaccine. As of April 19, 2021, the vaccine is available to Oregonians ages 16+. You can find out how to get registered for the vaccine by visiting covidvaccine.oregon.gov. If you are hesitant about receiving the vaccine, please read this message from Bishop Akiyama urging the diocese to consider receiving the vaccine. Please continue to pray for our community, front-line workers, and for families and friends of those who have experienced or have died from COVID-19. And finally, please continue to wear a mask, wash your hands, and maintain safe distancing from others.
Salem, OR—** Correction: Due to a correction to the initial risk level calculations for Harney County, the county will remain at Lower Risk. **
Governor Kate Brown today announced that 12 counties improved in risk level, with 10 improving from Extreme Risk for the first time since November, effective February 12. County risk levels under the state's public health framework aim to reduce transmission and protect Oregonians from COVID-19. The framework uses four different risk levels for counties based on COVID-19 spread—Extreme Risk, High Risk, Moderate Risk, and Lower Risk—and assigns health and safety measures for each level.
Effective February 12 through February 25, there will be 14 counties in the Extreme Risk level, 11 at High Risk, three at Moderate Risk, and eight at Lower Risk. A complete list of counties and their associated risk levels is available here .
“Thanks to Oregonians who have stepped up and made smart choices, we have made incredible progress in stopping the spread of COVID-19 and saving lives in Oregon," said Governor Brown. "This week we will see 10 counties move out of Extreme Risk, including the Portland tri-county area, for the first time since November. This is welcome news, as we'll start to see more businesses open up and Oregonians being able to get out a bit more.
"It’s also incredibly important that we continue to remain vigilant and protect our neighbors and loved ones as we face virulent new strains of COVID-19. This means continuing to wear masks, keep our physical distance, and avoid indoor gatherings. If we want to keep businesses open, reopen schools for in-person instruction, and stay safe, we must keep up our guard. Until vaccines are more widely available, case counts could go back up if we don't keep following safety measures."
The Oregon Health Authority will examine and publish county data weekly. County risk levels will be reassigned every two weeks. The first week's data will provide a "warning week" to prepare counties for potential risk level changes. The next assignment of risk levels will be announced February 23 and take effect February 26.
Updates to Warning Week data and county risk levels will be posted to coronavirus.oregon.gov .
As vaccines for COVID-19 begin to be administered to the public we have collected information that maybe helpful for you. It is important to note that people remember basic COVID-19 safety measures to stop the spread of disease: wear a mask, social distance, avoid large gatherings and social get- togethers, wash your hands and stay home when you’re sick. This includes those who receive the vaccination. Continue to do your part to keep others safe.
Top message from the Oregon Health Authority regarding the COVID-19 Vaccine:
- Vaccination is the safest, most effective and most reliable way to keep yourself, your family and your community healthy and safe from COVID-19.
- COVID-19 vaccines are 95% effective and have undergone rigorous safety testing.
- Oregon will prioritize people who are most at risk and hardest hit. Front-line health care workers will receive the first vaccinations, with a focus on staff who are at highest risk of exposure to the virus in their work. Residents and staff in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities also will be among the first vaccinated.
- Vaccination gives us hope that the pandemic will end, but in the meantime, we need to continue safety measures to keep the virus from spreading: wear a mask, physically distance from others, wash your hands, avoid gatherings and stay home when you’re sick.
Three Questions from the Q&A Session with Faith Community Leaders
- Faith Community Leaders Vaccine Q&A with Oregon Health Authority - Video Recording; Powerpoint
- Oregon Health Authority: COVID-19 Vaccine Information for Providers
- COVID-19 Vaccination Communication Toolkit from the CDC
- Oregon-Specific Q&A Regarding the Vaccine
- Oregon Vaccine Advisory Committee Website
- Watch previous meetings of the committee
- Review agendas and meeting informations
This email was originally sent on December 3, 2020 from Maria Waters, OHA Faith Liaison, Faith.Liaison@dhsoha.state.or.us to Faith Leaders across the state of Oregon.
Hello Faith Leaders,
I hope you each had a few moments of peace and joy over the last week. There are lots of updates and changes today. Please take a few moments to review the information below. As always, please reach out if there is anything specific I can do to support your faith community.
New: Faith Community Guidance
The new four-tier framework goes into effect today. There are significant changes including a new faith-specific guidance document as well as changes to how in-home faith gatherings are classified.
Additional clarification will come shortly on how often and when the risk level for a county will change.
The four levels of risk are: Lower Risk, Moderate Risk, High Risk and Extreme Risk. For the first two-week period, 25 Counties are in the extreme risk level, 5 in the high risk level, 2 in the moderate risk level and 4 in the lower risk level. To see which level your county is in, you can find a map here.
For an overview of all sector guidance, click here.
For Faith Community specific guidance, click here.
OHA COVID-19 webpage to view all documents, click here.
Note- I've received lots of questions about the capacity definition. I am awaiting clarification on this issue, however the "maximum occupancy permitted by law" refers to the fire marshal occupancy certificate. The best method to calculate capacity is calculate the percentage based on the level of risk your county is in. For example, calculate 25% of the fire marshal limits, with a maximum limit of 100 people indoors for extreme risk counties.
Under the new framework, faith based in-home gatherings should utilize the "Gatherings" sector guidance. This means that for counties in the extreme or high risk levels, in-home faith gatherings cannot exceed more than 6 people.
For in-home gatherings guidance, click here.
Face Coverings Guidance
Masks, face coverings or face shields are required to be worn by all individuals at all times unless the individual:
- Is at their own residence.
- Is in their own personal vehicle, except when going through a drive-thru or if interacting with an individual outside the vehicle, such as at a gas station.
- Is under five (5) years of age.
- Is eating or drinking.
- Is engaged in an activity that makes wearing a mask, face covering or face shield not feasible, such as when taking a shower.
- Is sleeping.
- Is in a private, individual workspace.
- Must remove the mask, face coverings or face shield briefly because the individual’s identity needs to be confirmed by visual comparison, such as at a bank or if interacting with law enforcement. If possible, individuals should limit speaking while the mask, face covering or face shield is off as speaking generates aerosols and droplets that can contain viruses.
Individuals who have a medical condition that makes it hard to breathe or a disability that prevents the individual from wearing a mask, face covering or face shield can request an accommodation from a business, person responsible for an indoor or outdoor space open to the public, public or private workplace, private career school or public or private university to enable full and equal access to services, transportation and facilities open to the public.
This means that face coverings are required while speaking or performing at a faith gathering. There are no exceptions regardless of distance between the audience and the speaker. Additionally, plexiglass shields are not approved as a substitute for a face covering.
For the Face Coverings guidance, click here.
There is a new website that just launched for information relating to COVID-19 vaccinations in Oregon. On the website, you can read about Oregon's draft vaccination distribution plan, updates on vaccine availability, and information about vaccine safety and effectiveness.
Community Information Exchange
Oregon community information exchanges (CIEs) are developing across the state, sponsored by Medicaid coordinated care organizations (CCOs), health plans and other organizations. CIE can be used by interested community-based organizations (CBOs), local public health authorities (LPHAs), and Tribes to coordinate wraparound and social services support for COVID-19 isolation and quarantine.
You can find an informational flyer here.
We also plan to hold an informational webinar where community stakeholders interested in CIE can learn more, and to gather feedback in the future. We’ll share more information about these events in upcoming newsletters and on our OHA CIE website.
Over the next few days, additional clarification will come available on the new guidance. I have received a number of questions that have been submitted to the Governor's Office for clarification. As soon as I have answers, I will send them out.
OHA Faith Liaison
Everyone has a right to know about and use Oregon Health Authority (OHA) programs and services. OHA provides free help. Some examples of the free help OHA can provide are:
- Sign language and spoken language interpreters
- Closed captioning in English and Spanish
- Written materials in other languages
- Large print
- Audio and other formats
If you need help or have questions, please contact Faith.Liaison@dhsoha.state.or.us.
As the State of Oregon wrestles with understanding what is necessary to address our communities’ safety, their guidelines for reopening have changed. All congregations that have or plan to open need to be compliant with state and relevant county guidelines.
Below are the most recent guidelines for event operators and gatherings, both of which are applicable for churches. These guidelines are applicable for counties in Phase 1 and Phase 2. Specific questions regarding state regulations and local guidelines should be addressed with your county’s Public Health office.
If you have already submitted a plan, please adjust your practices to meet these new standards. If you have not yet submitted a plan, please address these required components in your plan to reengage your building.
Some of the highlighted changes include requirements that churches:
- Post signs throughout facility with symptoms and encouraging people to go home if sick
- Post signs throughout facility with info on who to contact if someone gets sick
- Provide hand sanitizer throughout
- Require reservations or advanced tickets
- Determine maximum occupancy of each indoor and outdoor area using 35 square feet per person
- Assign physical distancing monitor
- Use specific EPA approved disinfectants
- Assign sanitation attendant
Authority: Executive Order No. 20-66, ORS 433.441, ORS 433.443, ORS 431A.010
Applicability: This guidance applies statewide to faith institutions, funeral homes, mortuaries and cemeteries.
Enforcement: To the extent this guidance requires compliance with certain provisions, it is enforceable as specified in Executive Order No. 20-66, paragraph 10.
Operators of faith institutions, funeral homes, mortuaries and cemeteries are required to:
- Comply with the Statewide Mask, Face Covering, Face Shield Guidance.
- Comply with the Eating and Drinking Establishments Guidance for the designated risk level of the county in which the faith institution, funeral home, mortuary and cemetery is located, if applicable.
- For extreme risk counties prohibit on-site consumption of food or drinks unless integral to a religious service.
Distance and Occupancy:
- Limit maximum capacity based on the designated risk level of the county in which faith institution, funeral home, mortuary or cemetery is located.
- Maintain physical distance of at least six (6) feet between people, except that members of the same household can be within six (6) feet of each other.
- Determine seating and or configuration to comply with all physical distancing requirements.
- Assign a physical distancing monitor to ensure compliance with all distancing requirements, including at entrances, exits, restrooms and any other area where people may meet or crowd.
- Do not combine households or allow shared seating for individuals not in the same households.
- Remove or restrict seating or standing areas to facilitate the requirement of at least six (6) feet of physical distance between households.
- Prohibit people in different households from meeting/crowding in any area of the facility, both indoor and outdoor, including in parking lots.
Cleaning and Disinfection:
- Thoroughly clean all areas of gathering space prior to reopening after any extended closure.
- Thoroughly clean the gathering space between events according to the cleaning anddisinfection requirements.
- Use disinfectants that are included on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved list for the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 virus.
- Assign a sanitation attendant or attendants to frequently clean and disinfect work areas, high-traffic areas, and commonly touched surfaces in areas accessed by workers and attendees/participants.
- Assign a sanitation attendant or attendants to clean restrooms hourly during the event, and ensure adequate sanitary supplies (e.g., soap, toilet paper, 60-95% alcohol-content hand sanitizer) during all events.
Operators of faith institutions, funeral homes, mortuaries and cemeteries should, but are not required to:
- Consider live-streaming the performance to attendees to limit the size of in-person gatherings.
- When singing or playing instruments, consider moving the performance outdoors.
- When playing brass and wind instruments, consider moving the performance outdoors and consider covering the instruments to keep droplets from spreading when using the instrument.
- Consider using amplifiers or other sound enhancing equipment to reduce the need to yell or increase the volume of the performers’ voices.
- Consider increasing physical distancing greater than six (6) feet apart between individuals outdoors.
Document accessibility: For individuals with disabilities or individuals who speak a language other than English, OHA can provide information in alternate formats such as translations, large print, or braille. Contact the Health Information Center at 1-971-673-2411, 711 TTY or COVID19.LanguageAccess@dhsoha.state.or.us
- First notify any other employees or volunteers who might potentially have had exposure. You should tell them only that someone was diagnosed with the illness, but should not identify which person is sick, even if they ask so they can gauge their own risk. Medical information, such as diagnosis, must be kept confidential. It’s okay if they figure it out on their own, but make sure you’re not the one to reveal the information.
Exposed employees or volunteers probably don’t need to quarantine unless they had close contact for a prolonged period of time (this isn’t precisely defined, but 15 minutes at less than 6 feet apart would qualify, even with masks). The CDC has the latest information on its website.
- Next, you should follow CDC and local health department guidance on cleaning and quarantining. Areas of the worksite where the infected person worked or visited should be closed for 24 hours, or as long as possible, then thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.
The sick person should talk to their healthcare provider to determine when to return. For those who have a presumptive case of COVID-19 (meaning they didn’t get a test), their provider will probably let them return when at least 24 hours have passed since recovery, as defined as resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications AND improvement in respiratory symptoms AND at least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.
We are living in extremely difficult and challenging times but times also that call us to a deeper sense of God’s presence and abiding love. The document that follows outlines our thinking at this time as we consider how to reengage with our buildings and continue the ministry of Jesus to the world. These guidelines are to be considered diocesan norms for this time until further notice, superseding any legal rulings on church openings. At the end of the diocesan guidelines you will also find information on the states phased reopening plan for Oregon. This is provided in order to give you the context for our diocesan guidelines.
- Diocesan Guidelines for Reengaging our Church Buildings
- Going out? Stay apart. (Poster from Oregon Health Authority)
- Do you have these symptoms? (Poster from Oregon Health Authority)
- Guías Diocesanas para los edificios de nuestra Iglesia
- ¿Sale? Mantenga la distancia. (Cartel de la Autoridad de Salud de Oregon)
- ¿Tiene estos síntomas? (Cartel de la Autoridad de Salud de Oregon)
The Stations of the Cross, The Way of the Cross, Viacrucis.
These are the names of the special celebration during every Friday during Lent and on Holy Friday, most of our Latino Congregations practice. This year we would like to share with you: the Viacrucis in time of pandemic. The focus is praying for the different aspects of this life changing reality. You can add personal or community intercessions. May remembering and making present the journey of Jesus to the his death and be put into the tomb, prepare us to celebrate his Resurrection.
Las Estaciones de la Cruz, El Camino de la Cruz, ElViacrucis.
Estos son nombres de la celebración especial que las comunidades Latinas celebran cada viernes de Cuaresma y el Viernes Santo. Este año queremos compartir con Ud. El Viacrucis en tiempo de pandemia. El centro es hacer oración por los diferentes aspectos de esta realidad que ha cambiado nuestra vida. Ud. puede unir sus peticiones personales o comunitarias. Que el recordar y hacer presente el camino de Jesús hacia el calvario, su muerte y sepultura, nos prepare para celebrar su Resurrección.
The Episcopal Church’s Office of Government Relations has developed a toolkit for individuals, congregations and ministries to facilitate and promote COVID-19 vaccine distribution in the United States. This toolkit promotes the ongoing work that parishes and dioceses have already been doing, shares best practices, and offers ideas for ways that communities can help U.S.- based Episcopalians to facilitate vaccination, overcome vaccine hesitancy, and find information from state and local officials. Churches and church leaders (lay and ordained) can serve as an important trusted bridge between public health officials and communities.
In his public service announcement encouraging vaccination, Presiding Bishop Curry says, “This vaccine can prevent the COVID-19 virus. It can help you. It can help those who you love. It can help us all. The Bible says you should love your neighbor as yourself. And getting this vaccine, as well as wearing your face mask, and keeping social distanced, and out of crowds, these are some simple and real ways that we can love our neighbor as ourselves. To love our neighbor, and while you’re at it to love yourself.” Watch the PSA here.
“As a part of our work beyond the church walls, Episcopalians around the U.S. partner with the government all the time to help address problems in our communities, and combatting COVID-19 is no exception,” said Canon C.K. Robertson, canon to the presiding bishop for ministry beyond The Episcopal Church. “We can not only encourage our fellow Episcopalians to get vaccinated to help us return to normal, but churches can ask their local health departments how they can best serve their community in vaccine distribution.”
The toolkit includes 10 actions churches can take to help get everyone vaccinated and resources from the U.S. government on vaccine rollout including links to every state and territory’s vaccine resources page, information on overcoming vaccine hesitancy, and even sample messaging.
Find the toolkit in English and Spanish here.
This toolkit will be updated as new information and plans become available. The Office of Government Relations also continues to advocate for U.S. support in delivering vaccines to countries being sidelined from vaccine distribution channels. To stay up to date on these efforts, sign up for updates from The Episcopal Public Policy Network.
Episcopalians are already doing great work in this area, and the Office of Government Relations wants to hear about it! Share your stories of engaging the COVID-19 vaccine rollout by writing them at The Episcopal Public Policy Network.
- Sector Risk Level Guidance
- CDC Interim Guidance for Communities of Faith (Updated Oct. 29, 2020)
- Episcopal Diocese of Oregon Guidelines for Reengaging Our Church Buildings in English and en Español
- Guidance for Venue and Event Operators (Oregon Health Authority)
- Guidance for Gatherings (Oregon Health Authority)
Interim Guidance for Communities of Faith: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/php/faith-based.html
Large Meeting Guidelines: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/large-events/mass-gatherings-ready-for-covid-19.html
- Workplace Guidelines: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-business-response.html
- Faith-based response to pandemics: https://www.episcopalrelief.org/what-we-do/us-disaster-program/faith-based-response-to-epidemics/
- Keeping your community connected: https://www.episcopalrelief.org/what-we-do/us-disaster-program/remoteministry/
Request from the Oregon Governor's Office
The Governor’s office has teamed with the Office of Emergency Management to survey and assess availability of facilities such as RV/Trailer Dump Sites, restrooms, showering facilities, hand-washing stations, laundry facilities, etc. throughout the state. With the closure of restaurants, parks and recreation areas, accessibility is limited. As a result they are seeking out the assistance of Faith Communities, Parks and Recreation districts, cities, counties and other networks to help get this survey out as well as provide information if there is an availability of any of the above mentioned facilities. Your support is invaluable and greatly appreciated. Click here to complete the survey.
COVID-19: How to include marginalized and vulnerable people in risk communication and community engagement: a booklet from an international collaboration of humanitarian aid workers. Click here for more.
Online Worship Services through the Episcopal Diocese of Oregon
Many churches are offering worship on Facebook and YouTube. Click here to see a list of churches, times, and links.
We will be updating this section with links to diocesan churches that are offering online services as well. Click here to complete a short form with information on your church's online worship services.
The Episcopal Church
This page on The Episcopal Church website provides links to a variety of worship and formation resources.
Information from the Episcopal Diocese of Oregon
Church Finance Resources letter from Bishop Michael and Rick Grimshaw, Treasurer
Congregational Online Giving Form from the Episcopal Diocese of Oregon. This can be used to make a credit/debit card donation to any church in the diocese, which will be processed and distributed by the diocesan Finance Team.
Other Online Giving options churches can set up:
- PayPal Giving Fund
- GoFundMe Charity
- Vanco is waiving the monthly fee for text message eGiving through May, so you can use this simple tool to accept additional donations. Sign up here for your free toll-free text number, select “Text Transactions: And then share this member-facing video on instructions on how to give on GivePlus Text. If your church already uses GivePlus Text, your monthly fees will be waived through May.
Emergency Funding: In response to this crisis throughout Oregon, the Episcopal Bishop of Oregon Foundation will deploy rapid funding resources to churches, diocesan institutions and affiliated organizations. Click here for more information.
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act
Memo detailing information for churches on the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)
Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) poster for workplaces (click here to download)
Instructions for employers on posting the FFCRA poster (click here to download)
The CARES Act
Information on the CARES Act and the Paycheck Protection Program
- Application information for parish churches
- Application information for mission churches
- Updates from The Episcopal Church Office of Government Relations
- U.S. Small Business Association has produced an FAQ for Faith-Based Organizations regarding the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program
- Donor incentives included in The CARES Act: memo from Episcopal Church Foundation
- April 19, 2020 Paycheck Protection Program update
Addressing Isolation and Quarantine Webinar: this was offered by Episcopal Relief & Development and the recording is now available. Click here to listen or read a summary.
Pastors and Disasters: a toolkit from Episcopal Relief & Development. Click here for more.
Ministering to Children, Youth, Teens, and Adults after a Disaster: a number of age-appropriate curricula from Episcopal Relief & Development. Click here for more.
Concerns for Clergy - Pastoral Care in a Time of Pandemic: a list of practical things to keep in mind. Click here for more.
COVID-19: How to include marginalized and vulnerable people in risk communication and community engagement: a booklet from an international collaboration of humanitarian aid workers. Click here for more.
The Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina has a wonderful resource section with many considerations and helpful links. Visit their Pastoral Care in a Time of Coronavirus page.
Things to Consider When Holding a Funeral Over Zoom: written by a priest following her own mother's death during this time of physical distancing, this provides helpful insights on emotional and practical choices to be made regarding funeral arrangements. Click here to read the paper.
Distance Funerals, Complicated Grief: a YouTube video from the Chaplaincy Innovation Lab. Click here for the video.
Virtual grieving: Is there closure if there is no goodbye? an op-ed article from a physician and expert in end-of-life care. Click here to read the article.