from our Most Reverend Bishop Douglas Fisher.........
ALL ARE WELCOME HERE
Suspension of In-Person Services Extended to Include April 12 –
Easter SundayMarch 19, 2020
Colleagues in ministry,
On March 13th I encouraged the suspension of in-person services for a period of two weeks. Since that time we have come to understand more about the trajectory of the pandemic. Today, with our Presiding Bishop, I strongly encourage us all to refrain from gathering in-person through and including April 12. Our physical separation must be extended to ensure that we make every effort to “lower the curve” of the virus, and protect our healthcare system from being overloaded. This pastoral directive includes adaptations of liturgy that place the priest closer than the recommended six feet required for effective social distancing. My hope is that we will continue to model complete observance of what the WHO and CDC recommend. As their prescriptions shift, ours must too. There are positive cases in every corridor now. Many of those in our care are highly vulnerable. We do not want to be the reason people leave their homes – even if it is for a spiritual good.
This means that we will not gather in person to live the mystery and wonder of Holy Week. It means, too, that we will not share the joy of Easter in our beloved worship spaces. This is a poverty and a source of sadness. At the same time, our congregations have been adapting to being Church now in creative ways. We are continuing to be Church in new spaces and grounding our days with common prayer. Nothing can replace the power and joy of gathering as God’s people, but we are moving through this wilderness together. Connections are being nurtured and deepened. What constitutes pastoral care has been expanded. We have been unrelenting in our prayer and in our “presence” to one another.
We are in the initial stages of a new dream for our Holy Week and Easter. We will let you know as plans take shape. I want to thank you all for your courage and faith in these days. This is, indeed, a very holy Lent. And, Easter will come in our hearts by faith with thanksgiving. We can’t know what the Great 50 Days will bring, but we trust in the One who will be with us no matter what.
Be assured of my prayers for you as you faithfully serve God’s people. I encourage you all to take your day “off” and to keep a healthy balance between the work that feels so vital and your need for rest and the integration of this event into your own lives and families. I am grateful to you all and grateful to God for the faith that binds us.
The Rt. Rev. Douglas J. Fisher, Bishop