March 24, 2020
Grace and peace to you in the name of the One who can do all things but fail, Jesus Christ!
This is my usual salutation, oh, but these are not usual times. The Coronavirus and COVID-19 has us as Christians, the disciples of Christ, us as the children of the Most High God, the Lutheran Tribe of the Jesus Movement, out of sorts.
I have chosen to watch, pray and then act. I believe that faith without works benefits no one. I get the dislocation that you feel. We were mandated by our governor to halt gatherings of ten or more, then were requested to “shelter in place.” We were asked by our presiding bishop to worship virtually, fasting from communion for forty days. The list goes on: our employers asked, our families inquired, our communities….
Our responses are communicated in many ways, social media has moved into “HD” high definition fast and furiously. Some questions are being asked, answered (or not) in the court of public opinion. A trending question: “What is the bishop saying?
First, there are a considerable number of messages on Ministrylink.org, our main method of communicating with our lay leaders, Rostered Ministers and partners in ministry across the five-county area. Second, the questions of worship and communion during this time of fear, anxiety and social/physical distancing have not weighed overly heavy in Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod. Most of our congregations/communities of faith find “virtual communion” to be a deviation from the norm that should not be promoted. However, I trust that our Rostered Ministers and councils are caring for their congregations/communities of faith as they see fit.
Our Synod Council and staff are more focused on staying connected in this time of mandated distancing: assisting leaders in adapting to current technology, effective on-line worship and Bible study, podcasts, etc. In particular, my attention has been drawn to the economic impact that COVID-19 is having on our ministries’ ability to pay bills, the pastor’s and staff salaries, and health benefits. In addition, how are we continuing our food ministries to those marginalized, child care ministries for the essential employees that must report to work for the sake of us all. In addition to the many who have died, are infected and economically impacted by this pandemic, you, my beloved, are in my constant prayers. These are just a few things that are on my heart, mind and prayer list. I asked that you stand with me in prayer for our leaders as they guide us through these challenging times.
Please know that our synod staff is working remotely to continue our valuable ministry of accompanying you as you have need. Please feel free to contact me personally at email@example.com with your questions or answers. I solicit both. Stay safe, stay blessed and stay “sheltered in place” Psalm 91:1-2
+ Peace and blessings, Bishop Patricia Davenport