Sisters and Brothers of The Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin,
Following a period of deep prayer and substantive thought which included consultation with Diocesan Staff, I write to share, as I forecasted last week, that I am suspending all public worship and church related in gatherings throughout EDSJ. This suspension will occur until April 20.
We will continue to monitor the situation in the event that amendment is warranted. As I trust you are aware, the CDC (
The Center for Disease Control
) is recommending cancellation of public gatherings for 8 weeks. I realize that April 20 is short of that recommendation thus the need for constant monitoring and updates. All in-person Diocesan events will also be canceled, postponed and/or moved to online platforms where possible. As I indicated in my communications last week, I do hope last Sunday afforded you the opportunity to begin discussions on the ways in which we will continue to be church amid COVID-19, and specifically, how we offer care, provide service, and continue to worship whilst public worship and gatherings are suspended.
So in the most practical manner, I wish to offer some suggestions as we navigate through the days before us.
Please consider live-stream or pre-videoed worship for your local community. If this is prohibitive due to technological challenges, please access the live-stream I will provide each Sunday (Instructions will be provided this week). Additionally, this is perhaps an opportunity at home to be better acquainted with The BCP (The Book of Common Prayer) thus enriching our lives of prayer (see
+ Pastoral Care
In the days of self-isolation-quarantine, it is vital that we are aware of the need for more intentional care for the people in our community. Please EDSJ, remain in contact (through social media, texting, phone calls) with the people in your respective community. Please don’t assume that people are well. Please don’t leave it to the clergyperson or to someone else to reach out. Ensure that reaching out is occurring.
+ Diocesan and Church Operations
Whether it pertains to formation opportunities or governance responsibilities, I urge you to postpone or cancel those occasions whenever possible. The other option is to consider a social platform. For instance, you may shift your Lenten Class to a ZOOM platform or you may continue a meeting of your Vestry/Bishop Committee via Skype. Dcn. Angela is your point person for ZOOM if you choose to use that. Postponement or cancellation may be warranted in some instances however, I do hope creative measures will be considered so people aren’t isolated more than is necessary and we can continue to engage as a Faith Community whenever and however possible.
+ Health Precautions
I have recommended that you access and familiarize yourselves with the CDC guidelines and precautions (
). If you feel unwell and it persists, please contact your physician or health care provider. If you don’t have access to health care, please contact your local clergyperson or my office so we might explore how to assist.
+ Continued Financial Support of Faith Communities
Even though there is a suspension of public worship and public gatherings for the next few weeks, consistent operations of Faith Communities continue. I urge you to continue to support your Faith Community and if you are uncertain how you might do that, again, I encourage you to make contact with your clergyperson, warden, or administrator.
+ Holy Week and Easter
Holy Week and Easter will be observed, however, with a difference. Services in whatever form they may take will be live-streamed. And a schedule for those services will be posted. As I have already intimated, some Faith Communities will live-stream or pre-video locally, regardless, a Diocesan live-stream will be available.
Please remember, Diocesan Staff and I are here to offer any support or assistance we can. We ask that when you have questions or concerns or simply need to “sing out” because you have the need to do so, we are here.
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.
You remain in my daily prayers,
Bishop David Rice