Dear Clergy of the Diocese of San Diego,
The State of California is now under a mandatory stay-at-home order from the governor. With the exception of going out for necessities – groceries, banks, health care, gas stations, laundromat – everyone is ordered to stay at home to prevent the spread of a disease that could kill 2.2 million Americans and overwhelm our health care system.
I have been in conversation with Dr. Cheryl Anderson, an Episcopal public health expert who is Professor and Interim Chair of the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health at the UC San Diego School of Medicine. Dr. Anderson, a member of St. Peter’s Del Mar, is deeply involved in the response to this crisis and very aware of its dangers. Under strong advice from her and from our chancellor, I have concluded that our congregations must follow the governor’s order, not only to obey the law, but also to do our part to protect our communities from a public health catastrophe.
I know that many of you have showed your faith and commitment to your ministries by live-streaming worship from your churches with just a few people present. You have made every faithful effort to practice social distancing. Now I have to direct all of our congregations in California to go a step further and obey the governor’s order to stay at home. This is our time to demonstrate our love for our neighbors in word and action, as Jesus commanded us to do.
This does not mean that you cannot worship. You can live-stream worship from home, or you can find a beautiful outdoor location from which to live-stream. Here are instructions for
how to record yourself on your desktop or laptop computer
. Here are instructions for
how to live-stream directly to Facebook Live
using your phone. Instructions for how to use Zoom to combine the contributions of several people, each participating from their homes will be available in the Diocesan News this afternoon. If you are unable to live-stream, I encourage you to share links to one or more of our other congregations who are live-streaming worship, because we are all in this together;
you can find a list here
For your members who do not have online capabilities, we have made
a Morning Prayer bulletin
available that you can mail to your members for their use at home.
I ask you to do all in your power to continue leading worship for your people from your home. It may not be as beautiful as the worship you are accustomed to lead from your church. But it will be a witness to the power of God’s love that we are willing to enter this fast from worshiping in our beloved ways for the sake of the wider world.
We will continue monitor guidance from the state and county health authorities, and I will modify my directions above to allow live streaming of worship from churches if that is later deemed to be safe.
As you know, the Presiding Bishop has indicated that we should not expect to worship in our churches for Holy Week and Easter. We will follow his guidance. Our diocese is creating a set of resources for your use (if you choose) for Holy Week. We are planning a diocesan-wide celebration of Easter, which we will live-stream from various locations. More information about how you can be a part of that celebration will be forthcoming soon. And I promise you, we will celebrate the Lord’s Resurrection in a mighty way on the Sunday when we are able to return to our churches once more.
This letter comes with great anguish that I know you all share, my sisters and brothers. None of us imagined that our ministries would lead us to a place like this. And yet here we are. And I believe that the church has a vital witness to share, about how our love of our neighbors is so strong that we dare to discover new ways to worship our God. The Son of God, our Savior Jesus Christ, gave us the commandment to love each other. I believe our love will shine through this crisis and bring hope to our world. And, as has happened in many trials throughout the church’s history, I believe this new trial will strengthen our church’s witness to the Lord of Life.
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,
nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38
The Rt. Rev. Susan Brown Snook