NEW YORK – On Thursday, May 7, 2020, His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America convened the Holy Eparchial Synod via videoconference, in order to discuss and decide on a process for the reopening of parishes. During the meeting, the Hierarchs expressed solidarity and empathy for the pain and loss felt by the Faithful of late, especially the loss of a traditional Holy Week and Pascha.
Based on the current reopening plans that are being executed around the country, it was decided that each Metropolitan would be responsible for the reopening of his local parishes in accordance with local health and public safety mandates, which might vary significantly within an individual Metropolis. Noting the importance of recommencing with Holy Communion, each Hierarch will make determinations for parishes in accordance with local guidelines for social distancing, preparation of the churches and attendant facilities, and any and all best practices for the local clergy to observe.
It was further decided that the celebration of Sacraments and other services would be allowed in accordance with the same local health and public safety mandates.
Commenting after the Meeting, the Archbishop said:
“We are all deeply concerned, not only for the health of our Faithful, but for their morale and their spiritual life. We know that re-opening the Churches with attention to nuance of the facts on the ground and deference to the judgment of local authorities is the best way to proceed. As Shepherds of our flocks, we are committed to safely reopening, and with an abiding sense of responsibility for the spiritual and physical health of the Faithful.”