May 28, 2020

Dear friends and fellow disciples,

There has been a lot of conversation in the broader world about churches being "open" at a time when our nation is engaged in what's called a "re-opening process." People are now allowed to leave their homes more and do some things they couldn’t a couple weeks ago. But it feels very rushed to me. Maybe I’m being cautious, and I will readily admit that it is a privileged position to take. For those who are losing jobs and livelihoods, our state can't "open" soon enough. Everyone has their own delicate mix of reasons, and we must be as kind and gracious to each other as we can be.

But with regard to the church, I don’t think I have to tell you that we've never been closed. We haven't been gathering on our campus, but there's no doubt you all are BEING the church. It has been beautiful to see, even from afar or through a screen. God is at work in this - in surprising and sometimes confusing ways - and we must listen carefully.   The words sent to me below are a nice summary of who the church is called to be, and I commend them to you. 

From Bishop-Elect Deon K. Johnson, the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Missouri:
The work of the church is essential.
The work of caring for the lonely, the marginalized, and the oppressed is essential.
The work of speaking truth to power and seeking justice is essential.
The work of being a loving, liberating, and life-giving presence in the world is essential.
The work of welcoming the stranger, the refugee, and the undocumented is essential.
The work of reconciliation and healing and caring is essential.
The church does not need to “open” because the church never “closed.”
We who make up the Body of Christ, the church, love God and our neighbors and ourselves so much that we will stay away from our buildings until it is safe. We are the church.

This newsletter is packed with ways you are being and can continue to be the church. Read it through, offer a prayer of thanksgiving, and find a way you can connect and serve. It is, even in this strange time, a joy to be in it with you.  We are the church.