Diocesan Response to Trump urging houses of worship be reopened as ‘essential services’
ATLANTA – The Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta on Saturday issued the following statement in response to President Donald Trump’s comments Friday that he has deemed churches and other houses of worship “essential” and called on governors across the country to allow them to reopen this weekend despite the threat of spreading the coronavirus.
——————- Statement ———————–
A COVID-19 task force of clergy, legal, financial and public health experts is studying the complex issues affecting our 117 worshiping communities, including parishes, schools, and direct service ministries in 75 1/2 counties in middle and north Georgia.
The Right Reverend Robert C. Wright, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta said Saturday that he will be guided by the task force’s recommendations and Christian imperatives as he decides when and how to reopen in person worship services and other church gatherings.
“Our chief directive is always the love of neighbor, which means sometimes we will have to exceed secular directives and pressures,” Bishop Wright stated.
In March, Bishop Wright directed all worship and meetings in the Diocese of Atlanta be moved online until at least May 24. Despite Georgia Governor Brian Kemp in April allowing churches to reopen, Bishop Wright maintained an online only policy and on May 7, directed that all meetings, worship, and pastoral care remain online or by other remote means until further notice and that the diocesan summer camp would be closed for 2020.
“While I realize that phrases like “until further notice” can and will trigger intense feelings of uncertainty and disorientation in some,” Bishop Wright wrote, “my prayer is that this time of uncertainty will produce new certainty about the gift of faith that we enjoy,” closing his announcement with a quotation from Galatians 6:9 – Do not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.