March 16, 2020
The Lord is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth be moved . . .
Dear Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington,
I give thanks to God for each of you and for your courage and creativity as we all adjust to the constraints required of us. Your entire diocesan staff is praying for you, that you may feel Christ’s abiding presence as you tend to your loved ones and all within your sphere of pastoral concern. We are here to support you in any way we can.
I write with further guidance regarding worship service suspension and to advise you of regional clergy telephone gatherings that we are scheduling for tomorrow and Wednesday, March 17 and 18.
In keeping with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s most recent recommendation to cancel or postpone all gatherings of 50 or people for the next 8 weeks and in consultation with the Presiding Bishop, I am instructing all public services and other church gatherings be suspended until May 16th.
Rest assured that if these recommendations are lifted--and we all pray that this crisis passes sooner--I will re-open our churches gladly. For now, I want us all to have sufficient clarity to prepare for what lies ahead, most notably, Holy Week and Easter Sunday without physically gathering in church.
The spiritual, pastoral and financial implications of this pandemic are beyond what any of us can fully grasp or predict. But you belong to a diocesan community and we are in this together.
As I write, Canon Andrew Walter and your regional deans are working to schedule clergy video/telephone gatherings for tomorrow and Wednesday. Please watch for a notice from your dean and make your call a priority. I will be present for all of them, along with members of the senior diocesan staff. We want to hear your concerns, share your good suggestions and resources, and make plans together for the coming weeks. The diocesan staff are working to address financial hardships, coordinate resources, and ensure needed care, doing all we can to ease the load for you and your people.
The storm we are in will one day pass and getting through it is our primary task. How we pray now, how we lead now, how we support one another and our people now, how we serve our community in Christ’s name now will inform our future ministries far longer than the storm itself.
Remember that Jesus is in the boat with us.
Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde