And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us. 1 Corinthians 2:12
The second week of Pentecost brings along all the wonderful and amazing opportunities for growth and reflection in the Holy Spirit! Our lives are intimately tied to God through the indwelling Holy Spirit and to each other through the Spirit’s presence. How wonderful this is as we travel the twisting by-ways of life and encounter the unexpected (and unwanted) difficulties that challenge us.
Last week, Bp. +Susan continued the formal process of parish re-integration. As we seem to be cresting the pandemic’s infection wave, we are all preparing to re-gather. ‘Best practices’ have been the base line for the Diocese of Virginia, and we will continue on a more conservative line, considering first the health and safety of our parish families.
Lee Barron and I have been reviewing the Diocesan guidelines and we are now in the process of forming a “Re-integration Committee” which will help to set the transition in motion. We do not have all the details yet, but if you would like to serve on this committee please contact Lee or myself right way. I have sent you, in prior CC’s, the documents Lee and I are using as guidance. Below, I include the latest letter to the clergy sent out by Bp. +Susan.
Through all of what we have endured and experienced and through ALL that is to come, God the Holy Spirit is our guide and Counselor. No matter what this life brings, we have already been given the power to overcome all: Where can I flee from your Spirit? Or where will I run from your presence? If I rise to heaven, there you are! If I lay down with the dead, there you are! If I take wings with the dawn and settle down on the western horizon your hand will guide me there, too, while your right hand keeps a firm grip on me. Psalm 139:7-10
Thanks be to God!
Dear Clergy of the Diocese of Virginia:
Our Diocesan Task Groups on Phased Regathering – men and women, lay and clergy from across the Diocese – have done creative, insightful and helpful work to prepare for the day when we will worship in person at our church buildings and properties. I am grateful to them for the great gift they have given to all of us.
Attached are the guidelines and checklist for Phase II regathering (in Spanish: guidelines / checklist ). Please note that we have not yet set a date for when such regathering may begin. Our Review Group will begin accepting petitions for regathering when the Bishop’s office has confirmed that the locality in which a congregation is located has shown a 14-day decline in the number of new COVID-19 infections and deaths. We celebrate improvement of some of the markers that will help ensure that no in-person worship service will become a super-spreader of this disease, including the increased availability of protective equipment, an increase number of hospital beds, and increased availability of testing.
Although we are not yet accepting petitions for regathering, we send you these materials today so that your congregation may begin planning. Coaches will be trained next week and will be available to you the following week. To seek coaching assistance, please contact your Area Coordinator.
Not all congregations will choose to regather in Phase II. Some have already determined that they will not come together for in-person worship until the entire congregation can gather. Some have recognized that their clergy and other leaders are in high risk categories and regathering publicly would not be safe for them. Some are continuing to keep their focus on online worship and all of the new opportunities for evangelism that it offers. Regardless of your parish’s choice, we strongly encourage you to continue to offer online worship. It has been an exciting tool for support of our existing parishioners and for welcoming of new friends. God bless you as you make the best decisions for the congregation you serve.
I look forward to seeing how the Spirit is moving among us in this time.
The Rt. Rev. Susan E. Goff
Bishop Suffragan and Ecclesiastical Authority