Dear People of God called to be the Diocese of Maine,
posted online last Saturday, I referred to Jeremiah’s words in the Book of Lamentations; he felt as if the world around him was crumbling, and yet he proclaimed the truth that God’s mercies are new every morning.
Our world has changed dramatically, almost overnight. Anxiety and confusion buffet us on all sides, and we’re left wondering what to do, and how to live each day amidst the uncertainty. So, how shall we live? We shall preach and live Jesus Christ crucified and risen. It’s who we are!
Of course this is a terribly unsettling moment, but it’s also a glorious invitation to be both citizens of the world and citizens of the commonwealth of God. And although they’re not always recognizably compatible, today it’s crystal clear: for us to care for the world, to slow the spread of this virus, we must act in new and uncharted ways. This is a moment to be a follower of Christ, to care for our neighbor, to step-up if we are healthy, and to rest if we are vulnerable.
Last night in a special announcement, Governor Janet Mills outlined significant recommendations and signed a
Civil Emergency Proclamation
in responding to COVID-19 in Maine. Our responsibility now as the church is to the common good of all - rooted in Jesus’s great commandment: to love God and to love our neighbor. For us to fulfill the great commandment, the Episcopal Church in Maine must take unprecedented action:
Effective immediately every faith community in the Diocese of Maine should suspend in-person worship, formation programs, and governance meetings until further notice (as of today, the Centers for Disease Control recommends against gatherings of 50 or more for the next eight weeks). However, we are not closing our churches: in fact, I encourage our congregations to explore options for providing limited access to our buildings for individual and private prayer (within the safe parameters of CDC guidelines). Nor are we stopping our work as followers of the Risen Christ:
We strongly encourage online gatherings and ask that you please let us know if your church plans to live stream worship and prayer by emailing
. We want to
share the list of churches
in Maine who are responding in making this new way to worship accessible to all.
Our ministries, especially in pastoral care and outreach, are in much need and must continue: we are working on
resources and recommendations
to be shared on how parishes can best respond safely during the COVID19 outbreak, especially to our friends who are in 12 step recovery programs, and those whose daily bread comes from pantries and meal programs.
Tomorrow evening about 100 clergy and lay leaders in the Diocese of Maine will gather online for prayer and conversation in a Town Hall. I will then be assigning diocesan staff members to be responsible for communicating weekly with every congregation’s clergy person and/or warden. In proactively and regularly emailing you, we hope to address your congregation’s mission and stewardship-related concerns. Along with your leaders who exercise oversight (the Standing Committee, the Diocesan Council, Trustees of Diocesan Funds) and the members of my staff, we will share communications with you every Wednesday via email, video, and online messages for the foreseeable future.
Although practicing socially distancing we will in fact be walking “hand in hand” together as we remember and lean on Jeremiah’s message of strength for today, and bright hope for tomorrow.
Faithfully in Christ,