Pastoral Letter & Revised Guidelines for Public Worship
Dear East Carolina friends,
“Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:9 NRSV)
Personally, I find great hope in these words from the apostle Paul, words proclaimed with last Sunday’s readings. After encouraging them to “rejoice in the Lord always” Paul called his readers to think about those things that are true, honorable, just, pure, pleasing, commendable, excellent and worthy of praise. Perhaps another way of saying to them that they ought to “set [their] minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” (Colossians 3:2 NRSV) To accomplish this, they are told to keep on doing the things that they have learned, received, heard and seen in him, trusting that the God of peace would be with them.
We’re living in a time when we cannot help but become focused “on things that are on earth.” With the coronavirus continuing to move freely in our midst, bringing sickness, death, financial disaster and untold layers of stress and anxiety, it is hard to “set our minds on things above.” With the continuous onslaught of campaign messages that are
bitter and angry, and with the legitimate fear that such behavior will not end with the election, it is hard to think about those higher things that Paul names. What are we to do? We are to keep doing the things that we have learned, received, heard and seen from those who have come before us as followers of Jesus and citizens of the reign of God, knowing that the God of peace will be with us.
With this letter, you will find a simple document explaining some revisions to our limits on indoor worship, allowing our congregations more freedom to gather in person so long as we continue to work to prevent and/or mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. The clergy and churchwardens of our Diocese continue to have responsibility for establishing and implementing a plan for their own congregation, a plan which must be framed within the limits and guidelines provided in this document.
In the days to come, you will receive more information about a “Journey Across East Carolina” that will be launched on the First Sunday of Advent and continue through to the week of Diocesan Convention. This Journey will call us to grow in our faith as followers of Jesus, strengthen our capacity for ministry in the communities where we live, and prepare us for a process of discerning mission priorities for the Diocese that will be fully launched at Diocesan Convention …all while we Move, Learn, Pray and Give together. Please watch for the details and plan to participate as individuals, households or congregational teams.
Together, let us be people who “rejoice in the Lord always” and especially in those moments when it is most difficult. And let us keep on doing those things that we have learned as followers of Jesus, disciplines that sustain us and strengthen us for ministry even in these strange times. Know that the peace of God will be with us!
Yours in Christ,
Tags: Letters from the Bishop