The Coronavirus is now a pandemic, and as people of faith we are called to care for and protect one another, particularly the most vulnerable among us. (Click on picture to read Candace's full letter.)
In order to do this, Bishop Hughes met virtually with over 100 Diocese of Newark clergy on Friday and conveyed to us the decision that we will not physically gather for worship in our church buildings through the end of March. It is her hope that we will be able to resume public worship for Palm Sunday, but that is a decision that can only be made at that time given how quickly things are changing.
This does not mean we have "closed" St. John’s for two weeks. The church office remains open, and I am here to help, so please don’t hesitate to call: 973-746-2474.
Refraining from large gatherings, such as public worship, can slow the spread of the virus and help “flatten the curve.” It will not necessarily reduce the number who ultimately contract the virus, but it will slow the pace, thus flattening the curve which reflects new cases. In turn this will create less strain on our health care system, so that those who are infected can receive the best medical care. Without these precautions we risk what is happening in Italy where early precautions were not taken, and the health care system is now 400% over capacity.
I hope you will remember at a time like this the phrase Jesus repeats more than any other: “Do not be afraid.” This is not the first time our churches have suspended public worship. During the great Flu epidemic of 1918 churches closed for several weeks. As we approach Easter, and the hope of the Resurrection, let that hope inspire us all to stay open to the often surprising ways the Spirit “makes all things new,” as we discover new ways to be church, and new ways to show our love and care for each other.
Resources for Worship, Information & Help:
The church office will remain open. If you need help—grocery shopping for example—or pastoral care of any kind, please call me or Michelle: 973-746-2474.
You can find a beautifully written coronavirus prayer at: https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2020/03/02/coronavirus-prayer
Bishop Carlye’s letter to the congregations of the Diocese of Newark concerning the coronavirus: https://dioceseofnewark.org/content/bishop-hughes-eastern-congregations-refrain-public-worship-other-gatherings-through-march-29
Trinity Church, Wall Street, will, “livestream our weekday service at 12:05 p.m. Monday – Friday, and our 11:15 a.m. Sunday service. The Washington National Cathedral will livestream a “virtual” Sunday liturgy at 11:15 a.m. on Sunday, and all are invited to join online at either cathedral.org, or the Cathedral’s Facebook page.
To hear our Presiding Bishop Michael Curry address the coronavirus: https://episcopalchurch.org/concerning-covid19