23 May 2020 Letter from Bishop Gutierrez: "Remember our truth"
May 23, 2020
My siblings in Christ,
Blessed Saturday. During this time, we are learning to ground our entire being in the Holy One. To pray, trust, and in both simple and complex ways, to place our faith in the path that God has laid before us. An essential aspect of faith is patience. With patience and prayer, we allow our lives to be guided by the hand of the Divine. It is then we have the awakenings of wisdom. The numerous media sources, breaking news by the second, and the instantaneous exchange on social media do not lend themselves to this practice.
As the Diocese of Pennsylvania and as Bishop of this beloved diocese, I can assure you that we will follow our diocesan plan. In the coming weeks, our churches will resume limited and phased worship following those protocols. Moreover, no church in our diocese is required to return if they are not ready or if those protocols are not in place. The prayerful decision to resume in-person worship will be made through deliberation, knowledge, and complete faith in God. If we rush to resume or we do not make all decisions deliberately with prayer and faith, then we risk making mistakes.
As we enter into this time, I ask you not to worry, become anxious, or feel pressured by external forces. We are the Body of Christ called the Church. Remember our truth.
We believe in a God who fulfilled the beautiful promise to Abraham, and guided Moses and God’s people to the promised land. Our God, who delivered Joseph from a well, Daniel from a lion’s den, and the people from exile in Babylon, has continually reassured us to be strong, courageous, and not to fear. Our firmest belief and deepest knowing is that God sent Jesus Christ. Jesus, who fed the hungry, gave sight to the blind, walked on water, and raised the dead. We believe that Jesus was crucified, God raised Jesus from the dead, and that Jesus is among us now. Thus, every change, every worry, every upheaval in this world fails to compare to that.
All the little things pale in comparison to God’s power in making things new. All the external forces wither like a barren vine against God’s love for us. The church is stronger, and our diocese is brimming with new life. Yes, we have a wondrous God, and Christ is with us. We have nothing to fear.
Remember this as your church begins to plan for re-entry. To assist church leaders, we will be sending out a checklist and template in the next few days. Once clergy and vestries have completed their plan for life in Phase II, they will be submitted for review and approval. If a church does not plan to resume in-person worship or activity, that simply needs to be stated. In accordance with our diocesan guidelines, all plans should be submitted within two weeks of the Governor’s announcement (by June 5th). If you have any questions about what is expected or how to proceed please contact Canon Shawn Wamsley, email@example.com, or Canon Kirk Berlenbach, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Time and time again Jesus reminds us not to worry. “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?”
God bless you. Let us pray for one another. All will be well.