I wrote last week with regard to the COVID-19 Coronavirus, and the impact it is having on the way we worship. This is a rapidly changing story, and since I wrote there have been two, related, developments. The first is that Governor Carney has declared a State of Emergency in Delaware, to allow for coordination of state agencies to respond to the outbreak.
The declaration included a request for the canceling of non-essential public gatherings of 100 people or more.
The Bishop of Delaware, the Rt Rev. Kevin S. Brown, has responded to this declaration as follows:
“Paragraph 6 [of the Declaration] outlines restrictions on ‘non-essential mass gatherings,’ and it is unclear at this time if this applies to church worship services. While the paragraph makes allowances for gatherings up to 100 people, it is also not clear how this limit could be effectively managed while providing meaningful, hospitable worship open to the public. Hence the need for more time to discern.
As an immediate result of this action, I am hereby suspending all public worship services within the Episcopal Church in Delaware for the next two weeks, effective immediately….We will update you as soon as possible with options for online Episcopal worship services in our diocese.
I hope to be able to lift the suspension to enable public worship again by Sunday, March 29 (the Fifth Sunday of Lent). This, however, cannot be guaranteed at this point.
We all feel pain and sadness in having to suspend worship, even under these remarkable circumstances and even though temporary. This is not an easy action to take. As I have written, we live in a very uncommon time, and we make our decisions together with the full knowledge that our actions affect one another across the church and across our community. None of us is an island, none of us is alone. I pray we all will find the wisdom and courage in this hour to embody the faith, hope, and love of Christ Jesus to one another and to the world.
Your brother in Christ,
With immediate effect, therefore, all worship services at St Barnabas are suspended until further notice. This suspension will include all church group meetings, such as Choir Rehearsal, the Lady Julian Group, Yoga for Wellness, Mah Jong, the Wednesday Lent Course, and the Thursday morning Early Risers Group.
To clarify again, there will be no Saturday or Sunday worship for the next two weeks. Further notices will be sent out as and when we have further updates from the Diocese.