Closing Church Buildings: A Message from Bishop Jennifer

Dear Ones,

Late yesterday, we learned that Governor Holcomb has issued a stay-at-home order that goes into effect tonight and is set to expire late on April 6. I am writing this morning to share with you some ways that our diocese will be responding to this new effort to flatten the curve of the coronavirus pandemic.

In a time of crisis, the people of God are called set a moral example by taking self-sacrificial action to keep our people and communities safe. Therefore I am directing that our church buildings, except for the purposes of hosting essential feeding programs, be closed for the duration of the stay-at-home order. During this time, I encourage clergy and congregations to pray and worship using livestreaming technologies as long as those services are led from homes rather than church buildings.

This may be as heartbreaking to read as it is for me to direct. Other religious leaders may offer different guidance as we seek to respond to this new statewide order, but this is mine. I believe we are now called to fast from our beloved practices and fellowship to ensure the health of the Body of Christ. I urge all the people of our diocese to follow the stay-at-home order as an act of faith to promote the common good and care for the most vulnerable among us.

During this extraordinary time, I am staying in close touch with the clergy of the diocese, and later this week, we will gather on a video conference to continue discussing new ways of observing Holy Week and celebrating Easter during this fast from public worship. Look for more information coming soon. In the meantime, you may find this new list of resources to be helpful, especially if, like, me, you are wondering how to observe this holy season at home with children.

I know how disruptive these last few weeks have been to our common life, and I am grateful for your resilience and adaptability. Every day I hear from those of you who are making hard choices in order to stay at home, checking on those who are most vulnerable, making phone calls to those who live alone, feeding hungry people, caring for the sick, and doing the essential work of keeping our communities safe. In all of these ways, we are serving as beacons of Christ at a time when the world most needs illumination. I pray for you each day, and I ask you to pray for each other. Thank you for showing God’s love to our hurting world.

Faithfully,