From the Bishop

2 5 March 2020
The Feast of the Annunciation of our Lord Jesus Christ

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.
Bishop Thomas James Brown


Dear People of God called to be the Diocese of Maine,

As expected, the cases of the Covid-19 virus continue to grow in our country and here in Maine. The Governor has issued new measures to protect public health and access to health care . Municipalities, including Portland, have taken their own steps to flatten the curve as quickly as possible.

As the spiritual leaders and faith shepherds of our diocese of some 10,000 people in 59 churches and ministries across Maine, we are now called on in this unprecedented moment to take every step necessary to help slow the spread of this virus. Given the diversity and access to resources of our congregations, it will be up to each of you to determine how best to prioritize and respond to the needs – practical, emotional and spiritual – of your respective parishes. And as always, you have open access to the resources and support of the diocesan office 24/7.

Following yesterday’s Town Hall with clergy and lay leaders, I am reiterating my advice about protocols for ongoing safety of our communities:

1)   Clergy, staff, and lay leaders should work from home, insofar as possible
2)   Arrange for phone and e-mail messages to be forwarded.
3)   Suspend access to church buildings, offices, and parish halls; consider placing signs on doors.
4)   Make arrangements to have buildings checked every 4-5 days; if equipped, set security systems.
5)   Those who do enter our buildings must use a log with one’s name, date, and time. Sanitizer to be present with wipes for pens, paper etc.

With regard to worship, outreach, and pastoral care:

  • Consider live streaming worship from your home via Zoom or Facebook Live.
  • Continue pastoral care remotely via phone, emails, and social media links.
  • Continue nourishing faith formation online in small communities.
  • Cancel plans for “Eucharists to go” or “Palm Sunday to go”. 
  • Visit us at episcopalmaine.org for resources.
  • Continue essential humanitarian ministries such as pantries and blood drives, partnering with other organizations and adhering to latest CDC recommendations and measures.
  • Set a good example by practicing common sense and care by staying at home, and only visiting businesses and organizations that are absolutely essential.

Staff from Loring House, who are all working remotely, shall continue to contact every parish in the diocese during these challenging times. The word “essential” is suddenly a regular part of our daily speech. So it is with you! You are essential to God’s mission in he Episcopal Diocese of Maine. I anticipate looking back on this time as an example of when each of us looked past our church buildings and became the church wherever we were.

In closing, and as we walk alongside each other in this uncharted journey together, I share this message from the Letter to the Hebrews:

Jesus Christ is the same—yesterday, today, and forever.

When we focus on this truth, and the joy that comes from having Him as the Lord of our lives, we can do all things because He gives us strength. God’s nature is to bring God’s people from death into life. All the time!


Faithfully in Christ,


 

The Right Reverend Thomas J. Brown
Bishop of Maine