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Bishop Stokes Statement on COVID-19 (Coronavirus): Guidelines for churches, staff and members

Bishop Stokes Statement on COVID-19 (Coronavirus): Guidelines for churches, staff and members

March 11, 2020 10:29 PM EST

From: The Right Reverend William H. Stokes, D.D.
12th Bishop of New Jersey

“Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

Following Paul’s guidance takes real work and faith in the midst of the ever-growing Coronavirus pandemic. I suspect we all feel threatened at some level. The COVID-19 virus (Coronavirus) is disrupting every aspect of our lives right now. We’ve postponed Diocesan Convention and the Spring Meeting of the House of Bishops was turned into a “virtual meeting” using Zoom technology. Susan and I were supposed to have our 15-year-old granddaughter Emily visit us from Florida this week. We put that off as well. I am sure many of you are experiencing similar disruptions. So how can we not worry?

To begin with, we need to remember that we are people of faith. We put our trust in God. This doesn’t mean that we throw caution to the wind, or that we are reckless, not at all. This situation calls for prudence, right judgment. We will modify and adjust our practices as necessary but, as people of faith, we should continue to do what people of faith do: pray, worship, serve, and love our neighbors.

I have received a number of communications from clergy and lay people seeking additional guidance in light of this health crisis. Not only should we all be paying attention to the latest information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and our local health authorities, Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) is an important resource for us all. In a website page dedicated to the COVID-19 Crisis, ERD observes, “Our role as churches, dioceses and compassionate Christians, is to: Combat fear with knowledge in order to encourage preparedness and decrease stigma. Maintain operational continuity and continue worship life in the case of potential quarantine and disruption. Show God’s compassion and care to those in our communities who are affected. Keeping ourselves informed is essential. Most people who contract the COVID-19 are not likely to suffer serious consequences. Vulnerable people, on the other hand, face a potentially life-threatening illness and will have to be more diligent and, if exposed, much more proactive.

Read the full letter

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