"Do not be afraid, for I am with you;
do not be alarmed, for I am your God.
I give you strength, truly I help you,
truly I hold you firm with my saving right hand."
(Isaiah 41:10, NJB)
Much has unfolded since
I wrote to you less than 48 hours ago. Just yesterday, the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a global pandemic. Major universities, including many in our own Diocese, have closed their classrooms. Employers large and small, some in our own Diocese, are directing employees to stay home and telework. Numerous dioceses, including the Dioceses of Virginia and Washington, D.C., have suspended or sharply curtailed church activity.
To safeguard our people and those in our communities and to mitigate the rapid, uncontrolled spread of the coronavirus, all church activity including worship is suspended immediately for a period of two weeks in the Diocese of Southern Virginia.
During this suspension, we will monitor forthcoming guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, and healthcare professionals in our own communities and assess new developments and the precautions they require. Further guidance will be issued by March 26.
As Presiding Bishop Michael Curry wrote in a statement released today: "The next 30-60 days at the least are simply going to be unlike anything we have experienced in recent history...The dilemma of what we know and what we don't know will continue to complicate our decision making and our lives."
Holding one another and all affected by this pandemic in our prayers, let us remain steadfast and faithful, trusting that the One who promises to "hold you firm with my saving right hand" is abidingly faithful.
Let us encourage one another by being purposeful in finding ways to remain connected with one another electronically or by phone, so that together we sustain our spiritual health and as one body and respond in ways that safeguard our physical health and that of others.