Dear people of God,
After careful consideration of the advice given by government and healthcare professionals, as well as Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and other local bishops and faith leaders, I am compelled to call upon all churches in the diocese to continue to suspend in-person gatherings of any size, including worship, through Holy Week and Easter at the earliest (April 12, 2020).
Holy Week and Easter are central to our Christian faith. To not gather to commemorate Christ’s triumphant entrance into Jerusalem, the last supper where he instituted the sacrament of his Body and Blood, his condemnation and tragic death on the cross, and his conquering of death and rising to new life—this will be an immense sacrifice. However, it also offers us an opportunity to reimagine how we “do church,” to expand the various ways we can gather together, even as we are physically separated. Sadly, we must remain physically distant from one another now, as it is distance that minimizes the risk of illness and helps to preserve, not only our own health, but especially the health of the most vulnerable in our communities.
Rest assured that this distance need not lead to isolation and loneliness. Our diocese is working to offer online worship and faith-sharing opportunities so that we might remain connected, and can continue to pray, worship, and learn together—to laugh, cry, and be joyful together—even if that means we must re-think what it means to be “together” in these times. I encourage you to check our website frequently to stay up-to-date with worship and other opportunities that are being offered throughout the diocese. I also encourage you to reach out in love to others who may be struggling, and to reach out for help when you are struggling yourself.
I will continue to send regular messages and be in touch with clergy and other leaders in the diocese. Know of my prayers for each and every one of you, and my confidence that we will emerge from this time of sacrifice with deepened love for one another, and for Christ who died for us, and rose again.
In God’s love,
The Rt. Rev. Kevin D. Nichols
Bishop of Bethlehem