In a letter to the church issued today, ELCIC National and Synod Bishops encourage congregations to, “suspend public worship services and other gatherings effective immediately” to help against the spread of COVID-19. Recognizing the unprecedented nature of many of the decisions congregations have had to face recently, the Bishops assure congregations and members they will remain accessible for support and guidance.
Full text of the letter follows:
March 16, 2020
Dear friends in Christ,
As coronavirus disease (Covid-19) continues to escalate domestically, so does the requirement that we continue to review and adjust our current practices. With new information being received daily, we have received requests for further communication, specifically with respect to the most recent pastoral letter issued March 13, 2020.
With the information we have today, we feel it is both prudent and responsible that our congregations suspend all public worship services and other gatherings effective immediately. Some of you have already made this decision. It is our hope that we will all be strongly encouraged to do likewise.
We understand how difficult some of these unprecedented decisions may feel. These important considerations reflect a deep concern for those most vulnerable – particularly elderly and those with compromised immune systems.
At the Synod and National offices, we are looking at how we can make alternative arrangements for upcoming meetings and gatherings. Questions we are asking ourselves include: can these meetings be held differently (via web conference), or do they need to be postponed or cancelled?
Your congregation members may be asking a lot of questions right now. We all have a lot of questions. This is uncharted territory for us all. Please know that your synod office is available to contact and support you in your work.
While social distancing may be required at this time, we must do all we can to avoid social isolation. Each of our synods are looking at what this means within their own context and will communicate with you as there is more information to share.
Please continue to be vigilant in your prayerful support of those who are ill and those who are most fully engaged in the public health efforts that are underway across the country and around the world. May God grant us generous gifts of courage, faith, and compassion.
Blessings in your ministry during this time.
Yours in Christ,
The Rev. Susan Johnson, ELCIC National Bishop
The Rev. Dr. Greg Mohr, ELCIC British Columbia Synod
The Rev. Dr. Larry Kochendorfer, Synod of Alberta and the Territories
The Rev. Dr. Sid Haugen, Saskatchewan Synod
The Rev. Jason Zinko, Manitoba/Northwestern Ontario Synod
The Rev. Michael Pryse, Eastern Synod