Presiding Bishop Michael Curry on March 12 issued his most direct guidance yet on coronavirus response across The Episcopal Church, telling members of the House of Bishops they have his support if they and their congregations choose to cancel public worship services to help slow the outbreak of the virus.
“The next 30 to 60 days, at the least, are simply going to be unlike anything we have experienced in recent history, even including 9/11,” Curry said, reading a written statement to the bishops in front of a web camera on the final day of the three-day House of Bishops virtual meeting this week. “The dilemma of what we know and what we don’t know will continue to complicate our decision-making and our lives.”
The House of Bishops originally planned to meet in person this week at Camp Allen in Texas, but with authorities increasingly warning that large public gatherings could risk transmitting the coronavirus, or COVID-19, Curry shifted this meeting to a “virtual gathering” online.
The urgency of The Episcopal Church’s response to the coronavirus outbreak has grown day by day since the bishops began their meeting on March 10. After dioceses and congregations implemented widespread precautionary changes to liturgical practices last week, including in some cases suspension of the common cup at communion, the focus turned rapidly to whether it was safe to gather for worship services at all.