Sisters and Brothers,
Earlier this week, Governor John Bel Edwards announced the beginning of Phase One re-opening for the State of Louisiana. Phase One includes guidelines for houses of worship to begin holding public, in-person worship gatherings.
While the Governor's order allows churches to immediately begin holding limited in-person worship services, Bishop Harvey has instructed the United Methodist congregations of Louisiana not to hold public worship before May 31, 2020.
No one wants to resume public worship more than I do. However, I do not believe it is wise for Broadmoor United Methodist to resume public, in-person worship at this time, nor do I believe we will be able to gather on campus for several more weeks.
As Methodists our first general rule is Do No Harm. I believe resuming in-person worship at this time would be transgressing our important rule to do no harm.
As the COVID-19 pandemic has swept around the globe, there are dozens of tragic examples of
churches becoming hot spots
of transmission for the virus.
Governor Edward’s order classifies communities of faith as “essential.”
I believe it is the moral voice of our community of faith that is most essential at this moment.
Resuming in-person worship gatherings at this time would be interpreted by many that the threat of COVID-19 is receding. I do not believe it will be safe for us to resume in-person worship until testing is widespread and contact tracing is fully in place. At this time neither is true in East Baton Rouge and surrounding parishes.
A second reason I believe we should postpone in-person worship is the 25% of seating capacity during Phase One.
One of the things Broadmoor is most known for in our community is our hospitality. We strive to live by the mantra “Greet each guest as if they were Christ for Christ himself said, ‘I was a stranger and you welcomed me.’”
It would be a violation of our identity and ethos to turn people away at the door. We are a church that makes room for all and not a place where there is no room in the inn.
Under the governor’s latest order, churches are free to resume limited in-public worship.
For people of faith, freedom does not mean the right to do what ever we want without consequences.
For people of faith, freedom means we have a choice, and to have a choice is to have responsibility.
The faithful can—and should—choose not to exercise the right to gather in large groups for worship if so doing brings harm to others.
With this in mind, I am choosing to not resume in-person worship at Broadmoor until our community reaches at least Phase Two as outlined by Governor Edwards order.
This decision is not an easy one but I believe it is the right one for our congregation and our community at this time.
I and the rest of our ministry team will continue to offer online worship and learning experiences even after the pandemic is behind us. Plans are underway now to expand our online campus and make it even easier for the people of our congregation and the community to hear and respond to the good news of Jesus Christ.
Please know that I long to see each of you face-to-face and look forward to the first Sunday we can worship together again in-person.
Until that day, know that I hold you in my heart.
Please pray for me as I pray for you.
Rev. Donnie Wilkinson
P.S. Can you do a small favor for the church?
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