Bishop Malone Urges EOC Churches to Cancel Public Worship Services through March 27
Dear East Ohio Conference Pastors, Congregations and Faith Communities,
I continue to hold you in prayer during these difficult times.
Yesterday I asked all pastors and every congregation to do everything necessary to protect and care for the health and the wellbeing of our faith communities and our communities at large in response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic crisis.
In the past 24 hours, I have consulted several healthcare sources, including the Centers for Disease Control, the Ohio Department of Health and local healthcare systems all of which agree that to slow the spread of infection everyone must take precautionary measures and respond appropriately.
After prayerful discernment and in consultation with the executive staff of the Conference, I urge all East Ohio churches to cancel public worship services through the next two weeks, effective today through March 27.
I am not suggesting that we close our church buildings because our local churches and faith communities play a vital role in being in ministry with our communities, especially with the most vulnerable. During this time of crisis, it is critical that we find creative and non-traditional ways to practice and sustain our faith and witness through virtual worship, Bible studies, and outreach that does not put people in harm’s way.
It’s extremely important that if small groups or classes were to gather for the wellbeing of participants that extreme care be taken to make sure that people meet in cleansed spaces, that they maintain social distance by sitting with spaces between them, and that extra care be given for those who are older or have health vulnerabilities.
Realizing that different churches have different capacities and resources to respond in creative ways, I strongly encourage pastors and churches to support and resource each other so that together we can continue to share the love of Christ and be in ministry with our church members and with our communities.
Thank you in advance for your faithful response and for your leadership. While these are challenging times, we will get through them together by the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who is our great physician and healer.
East Ohio Conference Leadership will continue to monitor the latest developments regarding this coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and will inform EOC clergy and laity of updates through posts on the Conference website and social media channels and through email.
Executive Secretary to the Bishop
Board of Ministry
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