Protocol for Celebration of the Eucharist

Protocol for Celebration of the Eucharist
The Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem
July 16, 2020

Background:  Bishop Kevin acknowledges the desire of many to celebrate the Eucharist. The bishop would also like to emphasize that cases of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania have been on the rise, and it is important that each parish take appropriate precautions to keep parishioners, visitors, and clergy safe. Virtual gatherings continue to be the safest alternative. However, for those parishes which have chosen to return to in-person worship, and feel confident in mitigating all potential risks, the following protocols for the celebration of the Eucharist are approved.  We are grateful to the COVID task force of the Cathedral of the Nativity for their development and testing of these procedures.

General Recommendations:

  • All other Diocesan Phase II protocols previously distributed remain in effect.
  • Virtual worship is strongly encouraged. Parishes should only return to in-person worship if they feel fully prepared to do so and have discussed their plan with the bishop.
    • For those offering in-person gatherings, we highly recommend they be held outdoors rather than indoors.
    • Parishes may choose to offer communion if they feel fully prepared to mitigate the inherent risks. Distribution is only to be in “one kind” – wafer only.

Preparation:

  • Prepare in a well ventilated room (open windows/doors, etc) four days before Eucharist is to be celebrated/shared.
  • Individual preparing should hand sanitize, mask, and glove before preparation of Eucharist begins.
  • Individual communion wafers should be placed with tongs into cupcake holders or similar packaging pre-prepared and organized on platters.
  • Place a cloth or plastic covering over the prepared cupcake holders
  • Leave prepared trays sitting for at least four days in a well ventilated area, ensuring no one enters the area or touches the Eucharist.

Celebration of the Eucharist:

  • On day of Eucharist, a designated, masked person will sanitize hands liberally, glove, and carry the covered trays containing the pre-prepared wafers onto the Eucharist table/altar.
  • The trays will remain covered throughout the celebration of the Eucharist.
  • The celebrant will preside over the Eucharistic prayer fully masked, with a single wafer/host and chalice outside of the elements pre-prepared in the covered trays. The celebrant should consume those elements at the conclusion of the service in the sacristy or other appropriate area at a distance from others.
  • At the Fraction, a designated, masked person will liberally sanitize hands, glove, and carry the trays containing the now consecrated wafers near the designated exiting area. They will then remove the cloth or plastic covering from the elements.
  • At the Dismissal, following protocols established for seating and dismissal, congregants will be dismissed in an orderly fashion to ensure proper distancing. They will be instructed to sanitize their hands and then take a cupcake holder containing the sacrament, being extra careful not to touch other cupcake holders. They will be also be instructed to consume the wafer after they depart from the service.
  • Trained ushers will be present to guide parishioners regarding process, if needed.