Bishop Alan M. Gates and Bishop Gayle E. Harris issued on March 5, 2020, the following message regarding response to the emergence and spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Direct us, O Lord, in all our doings with thy most gracious favor, and further us with thy continual help; that in all our works begun, continued, and ended in thee, we may glorify thy holy Name, and finally, by thy mercy, obtain everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.*
Dear People of the Diocese of Massachusetts,
As reported cases of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) increase in the U.S. and now in New England, so too does our collective anxiety. We hope that we will not be driven by that anxiety. Rather, may we be reminded that “in quietness and confidence shall be our strength,” and may we ourselves be embodiments of that prayer.*
In guidelines we distributed last week to clergy and congregational leaders, Episcopal Relief & Development reminds us that the role of our church communities in response to an epidemic is to combat fear with knowledge. Our goals are to encourage preparedness and decrease stigma; to maintain operational continuity and continue worship life in the case of potential quarantine and disruption; and to show God’s compassion and care for those in our communities who are affected.
This summary reminder sounds a hopeful note, for in it we see that, in the face of so much uncertainty, there is actually quite a bit that we can do, and do well, with God's help.
The guidelines that ER&D provides are consistent with reasonable precautions that are advised every year during flu season, summarized below and in the attached bulletin insert. We urge you to review, share and heed them.
Further guidelines will be shared as warranted by the unfolding of the situation. Meanwhile, we strongly urge that you stay informed via credible sources. Stay connected by all means available — while remembering, as part of our self-care, to take intentional time away from newsfeeds and devices, for the prayer, quiet and restorative activity that will return us less anxious and more ready to serve Christ in the days ahead.
O God, by whom the meek are guided in judgment, and light rises up in darkness for the godly: Grant us, in all our doubts and uncertainties, the grace to ask what you would have us to do, that the Spirit of wisdom may save us from all false choices, and that in your light we may see light, and in your straight path may not stumble; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.*
The Rt. Rev. Alan M. Gates
The Rt. Rev. Gayle E. Harris
*The Book of Common Prayer, p. 832