March 14, 2020
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. – Philippians 4:6-7
To our United Methodist Community in New England,
Greetings in the precious name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
The crisis surrounding the outbreak of COVID-19 (commonly called coronavirus), continues to cause disruption to our work and our lives. In these anxious and uncertain times, I pray that we are all doing the best we can to stay healthy, to follow the advice of our medical and civic leaders, and to continue to support those in our care. I celebrate the many ways you are bearing the light of Christ to one another in the midst of this situation.
My office and the district offices have received several calls inquiring what to do about worship and other church activities. You may be hearing of other conferences and religious bodies that have closed churches or suspended religious services.
Earlier this week, we sent a letter explaining that the geographic area of our conference is large, and it is impossible to apply one standard to everyone in all places. Please follow the advice/instruction of your state and local officials and health departments. If you are asked to suspend gathering, then do so. If you are not sure what to do, please contact your District Superintendent.
Our website will continue to provide the most up-to-date advice on how to prevent and respond to this pandemic. Everyone should heed all the advice available to stay home when sick, avoid contact with persons unnecessarily, and to practice safety guidelines when gathering in public spaces – including worship.
Additionally, you know your community and church best. Please do not compromise your health or that of your parishioners by asking them to assemble if they are in a high-risk group, or are sick.
These unusual times call on unusual and creative practices of being the church. I encourage you to reach out to other United Methodist (and ecumenical) partners in your region to share support, opportunities, and ideas as to how you can share the variety of gifts among you. Again, our website has helpful resources available for you to consider what you can do to be in ministry with your community.
Let us continue to hold one another in prayer, and especially those who are suffering the consequences of this virus.
In Christ’s Love,
Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar