Mar 12, 2020

Dear Friends in Christ,

I have been closely following the reports from the State of California, local county health departments, and listening to Presiding Bishop Michael Curry this past week. In this quickly changing climate, I have gleaned more recent information and I am taking this next step, today. 

In my pastoral opinion and to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus, l am directing all our congregations to cease gathering for regular Sunday worship beginning this Sunday, March 15, 2020, and to offer worship using online tools. 

I will consider a return to physical gatherings in our sanctuaries in a number of weeks or as circumstances warrant. 

As the Body of Christ, we will still worship and praise God. Clergy for a congregation should gather with two appropriate persons to celebrate a simple Eucharist, which includes a homily. This can be shared online through Facebook Live or another digital tool. (You do not have to belong to Facebook to access Facebook Live broadcasts.)

If your congregation is not equipped to do this, please be in contact with your Regional Dean or our communications office. They will have information for you about which congregations in your area are able to offer this online worship and how to share a link to that broadcast with your people.

I am also directing our congregational leaders to activate your church phone tree, as was suggested in previous messaging. Make an effort to reach each person in your congregation with a phone call. These calls will convey your pastoral concern for their well-being, will give you information about any urgent needs they might have, and should end with a prayer; such as saying the Lord’s Prayer, together. I thank God for our many clergy and lay leaders - you are already caring for our people faithfully and well. Your calm and faithful presence is crucial to your flock and I am grateful for your ministry and care.

My friends, this time of uncertainty and illness is distressing, but such times have always been known by the Christian Community. Our faith has always dwelt at the quickening edge of life. We are the People of the Paschal Mystery, which means that the God who made us died for us and rose again. As an Easter people, we are already used to walking through Holy Week, all the way to Resurrection. This is our path even now: Resurrection is ahead of us. May our trust in the living Savior, Jesus Christ, keep us from fear and free us to care for others.

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 8:38-39

May God bless you and keep you,
Links:
California Department of Public Health: https://www.cdph.ca.gov/


Guidance for Homeless Assistance Providers on Novel Coronavirus: https://www.bcsh.ca.gov/hcfc/documents/covid19_guidelines.pdf

The Episcopal Church COVID-19 page: https://episcopalchurch.org/concerning-covid19


Communications at the Office of the Bishop: communications@norcalepiscopal.org

List of Deaneries and Regional Deans: http://www.norcalepiscopal.org/deaneries


How to livestream in four easy steps: https://youtu.be/nhnR0hahkD0 (3.5 minute video)
Assist us mercifully, O Lord, 
in these our supplications and prayers, 
and dispose the way of thy servants towards the
attainment of everlasting salvation; that, 
among all the changes and chances of this mortal life, 
they may ever be defended by thy gracious and ready help; 
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
BCP 832 #60