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Returning to Our Churches: A Framework and A Plan

After weeks of consultation with diocesan leaders and other dioceses across the Episcopal Church, Bishop Jeff Lee today shared the Diocese of Chicago’s plan for re-opening our churches with clergy leaders via Zoom. The guidelines are based in large measure on meeting public health criteria spelled out in Restore Illinois, the state’s five-phase plan to guide its recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I am profoundly grateful for the creativity, the faithfulness, and the flexibility I see in churches all across this diocese. In online worship, in adaptive changes in ministries to those in need, in extraordinary attention to pastoral care and the tending of our communal life — I see and celebrate a church that is alive and well. I encourage us to continue these practices,” Lee said.

The plan emphasizes that re-opening churches at this time is not mandatory and that clergy and lay leaders must work together to determine what is appropriate for their context. Included in the materials is the link to an online verification checklist to be completed and submitted to the bishop’s office before re-entering the church building.

“The health and safety of the members of this diocese, our leaders and our employees remain our primary concern. Take your time as a community in working through these guidelines and proceed at a pace that is comfortable for you,” Lee said.

View the guidelines for re-entry online in English and Spanish.