Transcript of Bishop Goff's Remarks on Call with Clergy June 16

Opening Prayer

For Nina, Rachel and Melanie, who were ordained deacon yesterday.
For Jeremy, Philene and Mary Margaret, who were ordained deacon today. 
For the retreat of the St. Phoebe School for Deacons this weekend, and for the formation of a new class preparing to become vocational deacons.
For the Poor People’s Virtual March in Washington this weekend.
For our civic leaders, our President and members of Congress, for the members of the Supreme Court and all elected and appointed leaders in our states. 
For first responders
For peace and justice, especially for black and brown people who have suffered because of the sins of white supremacy, white privilege and white fragility. 
For all who have contracted the Coronavirus, especially for those who are dying alone in intensive care units; for the people who love them and for the medical teams that treat them. 
For the 432,000 people who have died of this disease worldwide as of yesterday, 118,000 of them in the United States, and for those who love them.
For scientist, epidemiologists and all who work to develop treatments and a vaccine. 
For the clergy of this diocese as they lead in this extraordinary and exhausting time of change and uncertainty.  Continue to fill them with hope, with resilience and with abiding trust in your presence and love. 

For our other prayers which we raise to God. 

Closing Collect:
Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. Grant that we may seek not so much to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.

Welcome to this webinar for Week 14. We will share updates and information this afternoon about two matters.

One, the guidelines for outdoor worship that go into effect this Sunday, June 21.  They were sent to the clergy of the diocese this afternoon and will be sent to the wardens and treasurers this evening. 

As part of our discussion of this new aspect of phased regathering, Mary Thorpe will update us on numbers of coronavirus infections in the health districts in our diocese.

Two, Aisha Huertas, staff Minister for Missional Engagement, will update us on the newly formed task group on racial reconciliation.

We’ll follow each section with Questions and Answers. As always, please post whatever questions you might have in the Chat box. 

A pastoral note about this time.  It is a hard time to be a leader, a pastor, a deacon or a priest. The stresses are high as all of you do things you were never trained to do, and as you don’t get to do some of the things for which you were trained.  Expectations for an immediate return to pre-Covid-19 Church life are tremendous, even as they are unreasonable.  You are each carrying a burden unlike any you have carried before.  You seem to be doing it brilliantly.  The worship you are leading or providing is healthy and strong.  You are doing faithful work in these unprecedented times.    

We are hearing from colleagues around the wider Church that some ordained persons are leaving ordained ministry under the stresses and strains of this time. Please, if you know of a colleague who is struggling mightily and needs support, offer what support you can. Let Bishop Jennifer or me know so that we can offer pastoral and other care.  If you yourself have come to a difficult moment, seek help from colleagues, from your spiritual director or your therapist, or from your bishops.  Because you are valuable beyond measure.  You are loved by God more than you could ever ask for or imagine.  You are worth all the support and help you ask for and receive.  Please don’t try to go it alone. 

Our webinar next week will be about self-care in this particular moment in our lives.  Please plan to be a part of it. 

Now, regarding outdoor worship:  As I wrote in the letter you received this afternoon, we began our work on phased regathering at a time when the best work of scientists indicated that in-person worship presents high risks of coronavirus infection, whether the gatherings are indoors or outdoors. 

In the past two weeks or so, a number of studies and projections by respected epidemiologists suggest that gatherings outdoors present a significantly reduced risk as compared with indoor gatherings.  The risk doesn’t disappear by gathering outdoors, but it is reduced.  In light of that emerging information, we have adjusted our guidelines and protocols.

Please note that no congregation must begin to offer outdoor worship. Some cannot, given the size and location of your property.  Some should not, given age or other risk factors for clergy and faithful members.  Some may choose not to exercise this option because it would not include everyone.

All who choose this option may begin worship outdoors this weekend, following the guidelines that you received this afternoon.  As you did with the option to live-stream or record worship from the church building, please send an e-mail to bishopsoffice@thediocese.net outlining your plans to protect those who come to worship.  These guidelines for the foreseeable future will also apply to outdoor weddings and funerals.  Once you receive permission for outdoor worship, you will not have to write for permission for each outdoor wedding or funeral. 

We’d very much like to hear your experiences of this - what works well, what doesn’t work quite as well, what you’ve learned, how people are responding.  The more stories we have to share with each other the better as we learn our way into this opportunity.

We will continue to follow the best advice and science on this.  If we need to make further adjustments based on that advice, we will.  In particular, we continue to work with bishops across the Church about communion and baptism.  Changes we consider to our practices around these sacraments are bigger than any one congregation, bigger than any one bishop or diocese, and so we work together with a wide circle of leaders toward new best practices.  Our Church is, by nature, conservative, which in this case means slow to change.  It may be frustratingly slow, but the work is happening. 

Mary Thorpe - Update on statistics on incidences of coronavirus in the health districts. 

Second topic - Aisha Huertas re: Racial Reconciliation

Q and A.

Closing prayer - Mary