A ‘stay at home’ order is now in place here in Louisiana. The order, issued Sunday by Governor John Bel Edwards, is an effort to combat the rising numbers of COVID-19 cases in our state. We applaud Governor Edwards and his courage to issue this order.
We as Methodists affirm efforts to strengthen the wellbeing of others.
In the order, which can be found here
, “going to and from an individual’s place of worship” is defined as being essential.
No doubt, going to and from our churches is an integral part of what it means to be a community of believers. However, I want to reiterate what I shared with you last week when I asked you to postpone all in-person gatherings of all sizes and for you to explore new and creative alternatives to in-person worship.
In his press conference, the Governor expressed great disappointment with a pastor in Central who continues to meet even under previous orders of limiting the size of gatherings and distancing.
Today, it is with extreme pain that I ask that all Easter activities be canceled.
This includes Easter Sunday in-person worship services, egg hunts, and any other activities you had planned. We will be resourcing liturgy you may use for Holy Week and Easter Sunday and hope to send that soon.
I have mentioned several times that there would be a time when we can resume regular activity. We hold out hope for the day when we can gather together in our sanctuaries and share the love of Christ with a warm embrace.
We are not there yet and might not be there for some time to come. Please maintain social distancing but continue to explore ways of connecting with one another, whether its a Facebook LIVE, a videoconference, or a good old fashioned phone call.
By all means, if you need to go to your church for personnel matters or to prepare for a sermon, know that Sunday's order has you covered. However, I would ask for you to message your congregations that there are no church activities including in-person worship.
So many of you continue to embrace new technology and are worshipping in ways that amaze and inspire me. You have not allowed COVID-19 to stand in opposition to sharing the peace of Jesus.
Meanwhile, many of you have asked about communion. We have pulled together a series of tools that we hope will help each of you navigate these difficult times.
I am thankful for Reverends Lane Cotton Winn and Juan Huertas, who responded to my request without hesitation and in an extremely expedient fashion created options that I believe will be incredibly helpful to all of you as you celebrate the sacraments using technology. You can read more about those tools and explore the liturgies here
I continue to hold you in prayer each and every day as you shepherd God’s people in your community. I especially pray that you are caring for yourself and for your family.
We are in this for the long haul.
Pace yourself. Go for a walk.
Wash your hands and be smart about your contact with others.
Grace and Peace,
Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey