March 13, 2020
Dear Beloved All Saints Community,
As you know, things are changing day by day and hour by hour regarding efforts to contain the spread of Covid-19 in our community. I have spent much of the last two days listening to and reading news reports, and discussing options with All Saints members and other clergy.
Today, Bishop Gonia sent a letter strongly recommending that all churches in the Rocky Mountain Synod cancel worship and all gatherings at church for the next three weeks. This is in keeping with what other ELCA synods around the country are doing. It is also what our Roman Catholic and Episcopal brothers and sisters in New Mexico have decided. And so, All Saints will not have worship this Sunday, March 15, or on March 22 or 29. We will not have soup suppers or Prayer at the Cross on Wednesdays.
From Bishop Gonia’s letter:
Having prayerfully considered our current situation with respect to COVID-19 and the quickly evolving nature of this pandemic, I am recommending that all ELCA congregations in the Rocky Mountain Synod, regardless of location or number of congregants, suspend public worship gatherings, events and meetings beginning immediately until at least April 1, possibly longer. While our church polity doesn’t permit me to issue a mandate, this recommendation comes at my strongest possible urging in light of all current available information. We are reminded often that we are Christ’s Church, Better Together – the way we can be better together with our local communities, our nation and our world is to reduce all possible risk of transmission of this virus about which we still know relatively little and which can be lethal for our most vulnerable citizens. We must act in solidarity for the sake of the neighbor. To think “this doesn’t apply to me and my community” does not take seriously enough our responsibility to the neighbor under these circumstances.
I know some of you have been waiting for us to make this call; others will think it is over-reaction. Please know the decision was not made lightly – on the part of myself and Kris Ericson, our congregational president, nor on the part of Bishop Gonia to make his recommendation. The best wisdom right now for containing the spread of the virus seems to be that we all practice “physical distancing,” not gathering in groups or public places where the virus can be spread.
Today, I was part of a conference call the city of Albuquerque hosted for faith leaders in the city. They asked us to be cautious, to share good information, and to model best practices to limit the spread of the disease. They also asked us to explore ways we might be of service in the community as this crisis unfolds. I am reaching out to partners in the community to see how we might be of service to families and individuals who are most vulnerable given school and workplace closings.
These next weeks will be a challenge for all of us. But, as the bishop reminded us, physical distancing does not have to mean social isolation. We will be exploring ways to be in touch and in community via phone, Zoom meetings (on the computer), and facebook. This would be a good time to like our Facebook account – AllSaintAbq – to take advantage of messages and updates we will post there!
Knowing that not everyone reads email daily, please share this information with your friends at All Saints. And be in touch if you have concerns or need someone to talk to; you can call the church at 505-899-3932 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. At this point we do plan to have staff at the church during office hours throughout the week.
Blessings and peace to you in this unprecedented time. I share with you the prayer Bishop Gonia sent:
O God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to continue becoming your church in new ways, not yet knowing what that might look like, but trusting that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. -ELW Evening Prayer
In Christ’s love,