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A Statement from the Bishop Regarding New CDC Guidelines

Dear Friends in Christ,
New information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cleared the way for Americans, who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, to drop mask-wearing in most situations. Based on this information, some states have lifted mask mandates, while others have taken a more cautious approach – the latter is the case of our state.
As Governor Cuomo stated on Thursday, May 13th
"In New York, we have always relied on the facts and the science to guide us throughout the worst of this pandemic and in our successful reopening. We have received the newly revised guidance from the CDC regarding mask-wearing and social distancing for those with vaccinations and are reviewing them in consultation with Dr. Zucker, the NYS Commissioner of Health, and our partners and health experts in surrounding states.” 
It is my official recommendation for our ordained ministers, lay leaders, and congregations to continue monitoring and following guidelines from New York State, while more information is made available in the upcoming days. 
Let us remember that the well-being and safety of all our members is the priority of our mission, upholding the Gospel. While we await further updates, let us remain cautious as we continue to be Church TOGETHER. We commit to staying up to date on the guidelines from New York State and keeping you informed.
As I mentioned before, we are grateful for your ministry, compassion, thoughtful decision-making, and educated leadership during this crisis. We know how difficult it is to provide worship, pastoral care, and other enriching experiences at this time with such physical limitations, but I can say with gratitude and joy that we are witnessing the work of God in each of our congregations and the work you do. 
May we continue to be Church TOGETHER!
Yours in Christ, 
Bishop Paul Egensteiner
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Rev. Dr. Fernando Otero
Bronx, NY
5/18/2021 01:35 PM

  Are ELCA pastors permitted to turn away congregants and/or visitors from indoor church services, if they do not show proof of vaccination or refuse to practice social distancing measures and wear masks? Does the synod have an official policy concerning this question?