July 24, 2020
By now you’ve all figured out that the main message in these things is printed in bold italics, and I expect you’re looking for that bit, so we can go ahead and get it out of the way: I am extending our suspension of in person indoor worship until August 17th I imagine that some of you are glad to see this, and that others are becoming more and more impatient, or hearing from people who are. I understand. We’re all ready to come back; I am, too. But we can’t, not yet.
Here’s the thing: we are not choosing between something bad and something good. We are choosing between one bad thing and another bad thing, between risking becoming contributors to the spread of the coronavirus on one hand, and not worshipping together on the other. There is no good choice, but since it falls to me as the bishop, I choose to keep our people, our communities and ourselves as safe as we can be in these dangerous days.
We don’t pressure or guilt people into attending church, but we do think it’s important. It’s how we come together in community, how we know and feel that we belong. We belong to God in Jesus Christ, and we belong to each other; coming to church – singing the hymns, saying our prayers, reading the lessons, enduring the sermons, confessing our sins and receiving absolution, passing the Peace, taking the Bread and Wine, receiving the blessing – is how we celebrate that belonging, how we connect to our Lord and our family in God. I hate telling you all that we need to extend our suspension of face to face worship.
I am determined to make these decisions based not on emotion or politics but on the data, that we should not come back together in large groups until it is safe to do so, and the numbers are telling us – screaming at us – that it’s not.
I asked our Bishop Coadjutor, who was trained as an RN and whose husband Bill is a physician very involved in UAB’s response to the pandemic, to explain the various numbers we’re all looking at, to help make some sense out of them. Glenda shared the following: