Long Island becomes the second Episcopal diocese to require all clergy be vaccinated against Covid-19. Maine was the first.
The Long Island announcement follows.
August 26, 2021
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
I am writing today to announce that COVID-19 vaccinations will be mandatory for all staff members of the bishop’s office, affiliated diocesan organizations, and all clergy of the Diocese of Long Island effective Wednesday, September 15, 2021.
The only exceptions to this mandate are those who cannot receive the vaccination for medical reasons. Those individuals who cannot receive the vaccine will have to agree to wearing a mask at all indoor gatherings, meetings, and liturgies and agree to be tested every ten days until such time as the COVID-19 virus is no longer a threat to the health and safety of the people we are called to serve.
Our own St. John’s Episcopal Hospital has agreed to provide the Pfizer vaccination to all diocesan staff members and all our clergy. This will be done in coordination with the bishop’s office, which will schedule the administration of the vaccine with the office of our Chief Medical Officer at St. John’s.
It is clear to everyone paying attention that the only sure way to prevent the spread of the virus, and to ensure the pandemic’s end, is for everyone who is able to be vaccinated as soon as possible. At present, the spread of the virus, even amongst those who have been vaccinated, is due to the fact that almost 50% of the population is still unvaccinated.
As the program year begins, liturgies become more accessible, church school programs and formation programs begin, we have an obligation as the church to do everything in our power to ensure the safety and well-being of the people we are called to serve. Getting vaccinated is a way to express our love of God and our love of neighbor in the midst of this crisis. This is tangibly an outward and visible sign of our love and care for God’s people. Getting vaccinated is our “being our brothers’ and sisters’ keeper”.
Beginning Monday, August 30th, my office will receive requests for vaccinations and coordinate with St. John’s Episcopal Hospital for the administration of the vaccine.
All staff members of the bishop’s office, affiliated diocesan organizations, and all clergy of the Diocese of Long Island are asked to provide a copy (not the original) of their vaccination record to Ms. Nancy Signore, the Human Resource Manager of the Diocese … as soon as possible.
Sisters and brothers, no one seeks to prolong the tremendous agony that exists today in our world. No one seeks to make life more complicated in the midst of the turmoil of the last eighteen months. Each of us, as members of the Body of Christ, must now do our part to help end this crisis.
If you are not vaccinated already, please get vaccinated as soon as possible and encourage everyone in your life to do the same. As our Presiding Bishop said, “Get vaccinated…if not for ourselves, then for our children.” I would add this as well: get vaccinated as an expression of love and charity for the people we serve and as a living memorial to the countless people we have lost to this virus.
The Right Rev. Lawrence C. Provenzano
Bishop of Long Island