Transcript of Bishop Goff's Remarks on Calls with Clergy - Week 6

Clergy Calls April 21 and 22, 2020

The focus of our webinar this week is Outreach and hands-on service during the time of coronavirus.  Aisha Huertas, our staff Minister for Missional Engagement, will present and MC this portion of the meeting.  She’ll name resources which we will get to you in writing, so you don’t have to scramble to take notes.

Before that, a few updates from me and from diocesan staff. [see staff announcements in Q & A]
[Bishop continues…]

We worship together during this time of disruption, even as we continue our fast from in-person worship in our churches.  For us right now, that includes fasting from live-streaming or recording worship from our worship spaces.  This is an act of love to protect the most vulnerable among us, and to support clergy and lay ministers who have experienced untenable pressure to go to church even when it was not wise or safe.  We all do this together for now as an act of love and of unity.  We are in this together. 

More than a few lay people have understood this to mean that we have suspended worship entirely in our Episcopal churches.  Please do what you can to dispel this misunderstanding and continue to invite everyone into the kind of vibrant worship that is happening all across our diocese.

A question on the mind of most of us is, when and how will we get back to in-person worship in our church buildings?  While we cannot answer those questions definitively right now, we are at work on developing a vision and plan for a phased-reentry into our in-person, public life as a Church.  We bishops of The Episcopal Church are sharing resources and working together to develop a re-entry process and plan. I am part of a team working on this in Province III, which is dioceses in the mid-Atlantic states.  We will have materials to share in coming weeks.  I invite you to send your questions and suggestions about this process to us.  You can post them in the chat function today or send them to our secretary and chief of staff, Mark Eastham.

A growing pattern that we are seeing in the Church now is to politicize the decisions we make and the actions we take for the love of other people in our communities.  It is not surprising that we are experiencing this, because it is the same pattern we’re seeing in the society around us.  People attribute partisan political motivations to wearing masks or keeping physical distance, even to using words like “the most vulnerable among us.”  I invite us to be aware of such politicizing, since it is so much a part of our national life in this election year, but to resist the division and separation that it encourages.  After all, we believe and proclaim that God created us to be one.  Jesus prayed that we all be one, as he and God are one.  Not the same, not all alike, but one, even in our real differences.  We are all in this together, all of us.  And together we can do more than we could ever do individually or alone. 

As we honor one another, please remember not to share other people’s medical information on social media.  This means not naming people who have been diagnosed with the coronavirus.  Someone’s diagnosis and treatment is their news to tell.  Some congregations post prayer lists on their websites.  Be sure to do that only with the express permission of each person named, and without any description of why prayers are asked so that we can honor other people’s privacy. 

Finally, a note about this particular time in our pandemic experience.  People who lead communities during and after disasters note that there are stages in our response to crises.  There is the immediate stage of grief and loss, accompanied by heroic action to do what need to be done.  Great resilience and pulling together for the sake of the common good is evident.  There’s a honeymoon phase as everyone begins to get used to a new and changed reality.  People remain courageous and make commitment to new ways of behaving that the circumstances require.  After some weeks, there is disillusionment and a dip into an emotional trough.  In the trough, patience is strained.  Anger is unleashed.  Acting out increases.  Some of us are noticing that we and those around us might be in such a trough now. I invite us to notice the trough, to be patient with the ways that some people might be acting out right now, to take care of ourselves as we check and double check our own acting out, and to love ourselves and our people through this time.  We are not going to stay here forever.  We will come out of the trough and enter into a time of recovery together. 

We’ll send you a link to an article about the stages of recovery:  https://www.samhsa.gov/dtac/recovering-disasters/phases-disaster

Click here for Staff Announcements and Clergy/Bishop  Q&A