Brothers and sisters in Christ,
In just the last few hours I have been in deep prayer and had a difficult conversation with my Extended Cabinet. As your Bishop, I am strongly urging and requesting that for the next two weeks our churches suspend in-person worship and other large church gatherings.
The people of God have a moral obligation to witness to the sacredness of life and our calling to protect and preserve, even when it causes us to make decisions that tear at the very fabric of who we are as worshipping communities of faith and disciples of Jesus Christ. Making a call like this absolutely breaks my heart, because the church is the one place people have been able to assemble in times of joy, grief, and celebration. However, as a passionate spiritual disciple, I can’t stand by while the lives of God’s people are potentially jeopardized.
I know this statement goes against what was previously shared. However, the swiftly changing landscape caused by COVID-19 demands our flexibility. This is no longer an issue of faith versus fear. It has quickly become a matter of being faithful stewards of life itself. This virus has the capability of overwhelming our health care system, putting the most vulnerable among us at risk. I know that as Christian men and women, none of us desires that. Our Christian tradition and especially our Wesleyan roots have always called us to be concerned about the most vulnerable among us. It is through these efforts that I am urging us to give witness to these roots by doing what is necessary to help slow the spread of COVID-19. I am very grateful to those congregations that have already made arrangements to discover alternative ways to worship.
Please know that ultimately nothing can keep us from worshipping Jesus Christ. In this season of waiting, we simply have to find alternative ways to care for and worship with each other. Please be safe and always consider the health and well-being of others. This virus has already caused so much damage. It is my prayer that we not let it cause us to question one another’s faith. Worship God with all your heart, because the worship of your heart is what God truly desires.