February 4, 2022
Dear Clergy of the Diocese of Virginia,
In this season after the Epiphany, we pay special attention to the ways that Jesus is revealed. We also focus on how we, through our decisions and actions, manifest him to a world so in need of his love. One significant way we do this, one we’ve been practicing throughout this long season of pandemic, is to care for one another, particularly the most vulnerable among us.
That care remains vital, given that ever county within our Diocese continues in the red zone for new infections and in the red zone for transmissibility. There are indications that new infection rates finally falling, but hospitalization rates in many areas are not. People continue to become seriously ill and far too many – over 2,000 per day in the past 7 days according to the CDC – die from this virus. Given our commitment to prioritize the needs of the most vulnerable among us, I support you in continuing to take cautious approaches to gathering for worship. As you return to in-person worship, or as the number of those who attend increase, please be clear with your protocols. I ask you to continue to encourage everyone to be masked and to maintain physical distance, regardless of vaccination status, and continue to refrain from use of the common cup. Some congregations are sharing the wine of communion safely, effectively and in ways that honor the spirit of one cup. I support you in experimenting with options that might work in your context. I hope that we will be able to return to sharing wine from the common cup before too much longer.
The most vulnerable among us are more vulnerable than ever as people let down their guard out of exhaustion or false assumptions. Our responsibilities for each other in this human family remain, and the small sacrifices we make for the sake of others are blessed by God.
I know that you are actively wrestling with questions about how best to tend to your worshipping community in the days and weeks ahead, particularly in light of orders or other actions by Governor Yunkin. Your diocesan bishops and staff will support you as you make these decisions in conversation with your leadership. Please contact Canon Abbott Bailey with your questions and concerns at 804-687-0122 (cell) or 804-643-8451 ext. 1012 (office, which forwards to her cell phone).
God bless us all as we continue to lead faithfully. May God’s grace abound.
The Rt. Rev. Susan E. Goff
Bishop Suffragan and Ecclesiastical Authority