Pastoral Letter from the Bishop
Coronavirus – COVID-19 Pandemic
Diocese of Easton
Dear Diocesan Family,
The Coronavirus – COVID 19 health crisis is presently capturing the attention of the global community and nation including the eastern shore of Maryland and the Diocese of Easton. The protocol to address safe and healthy practices is being frequently updated which is the normal practice for any new crisis of an unknown nature. COVID-19 falls into that category. Additionally, there is a period of uncertainty and ambiguity that accompanies this level of public health emergency.
As a diocese we have been closely monitoring both the spread (especially in Washington DC, Virginia and Maryland) and the most recent recommendations from civic and public health leaders. Two things are now clear: social distance is needed to stop the spread of the COVID-19 and the population most at risk are highly represented among our congregations and clergy.
Considering the Presiding Bishop’s communication last evening to bishops of the Episcopal Church,
“We are facing an unprecedented challenge with the COVID-19 outbreak, which the World Health Organization has just deemed a pandemic. In this context, bishops having charge of a diocese have my support as Presiding Bishop if, in light of the public health situation in their diocese, they decide - for a designated period of time - to suspend the administration of the common cup to the congregation in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, and/or to cancel in-person gatherings for public worship. I encourage you, in the event of cancellation of these public gatherings, to use technology to offer worship”
I am directing all in-person church worship to be suspended in the Episcopal Diocese of Easton for Sunday, March 15 and Sunday, March 22, 2020 (FROM Sunday, March 15 THROUGH Sunday, March 22, including the Third and Fourth Sundays of Lent). We will reassess the situation and hopefully resume public worship Sunday, March 29. We commit to notify everyone promptly by the end of next week if there is an extension to this directive.
My beloved, I am increasingly aware of the magnitude of this decision in terms of its spiritual, operational and financial impact to parishes and parishioners. I share the frustration and disappointment you feel as worshipping communities and people of faith. Nevertheless, weighted against the risk to the health and safety of our people, I am convinced this is the prudent and responsible decision. As your spiritual and pastoral servant, it is my obligation as a caring pastor to safeguard the well-being of everyone under my care. My love for you is too deep and abiding to put YOU at risk.
Clergy are reminded to protect themselves and those of their sick members by practicing good hygiene when doing home or institution visitations. My alternative suggestion is to limit pastoral visits to critical cases. Phone checks could be used in other cases.
As a nation and diocese, we are encouraged to renew our faith in God who will help us navigate this unchartered crisis. And as people of faith, be models of prayer and ambassadors and vessels of hope, comfort and reassurance. Remember Jesus loves you and as scripture reminds us, “God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing, he will provide the way out so that you may be able to endure” (I Corinthians 12: 13).
My beloved, I am relying on our faithful, committed, loving and dedicated clergy and lay leaders to help calm fears, provide guidance and care in these uncertain days, and communicate the message articulated in this pastoral letter. The Diocesan Office shall remain open to answer any question and/or offer clarification wherever needed. Feel free to call me on my cell phone: 410-714-9958 or office 410-822-1919. Together, with Jesus our Lord and Healer we shall overcome this temporary interruption in our lives.
Let us pray,
“Now to him who is able to keep you from falling, and to make you stand without blemish in the presence of his glory with rejoicing, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen” (Jude vs 24)
My fervent prayer is for patience, understanding, tolerance and love for all be the spirit guiding us during this time.
Your friend and bishop,
See Presiding Bishop - The Most Rev. Michael Curry’s Statement to bishops below.
A message from Presiding Bishop Curry related to worship changes during a public health emergency