Dear Bethesda Family,

Today we have made the very difficult decision to cancel our services and programs through Friday, March 27. At this point, we plan to keep the office and the church open for visiting and private prayer as regularly scheduled. Meetings that must continue, such as vestry and our vestry subcommittees will meet via video conference, rather than on-site.

We will livestream our 11:00 a.m. Eucharist on Sundays (though the service will be a bit different without a choir or congregation present). If you are unable to join via livestream, the service will be posted to our website by the end of the day Monday. We will also stream our Wednesday noon service the next two weeks.

We find ourselves facing a social and economic crisis unprecedented in our lifetime. We intend to err on the side of safety and care, especially for the most vulnerable among us. We also intend to lead by example in following the best guidance we have at the moment. Parishes across the country and within our diocese have canceled services and closed campuses, and our governor has asked that large public gatherings be canceled.

In addition to this, several of our staff attended a conference in Louisville, Kentucky in the third week of February. Over the past two days, we have received news of at least four rectors of other parishes who have confirmed or presumptive diagnoses of COVID-19 and who also attended the conference. Father James had lengthy conversation and interaction with at least two of those priests who are not only colleagues, but friends. Given this potential exposure, he will be keeping his distance and avoiding extended contact with people here out of an abundance of caution.

We will be keeping in touch more often during this time by email and on social media, both to provide up-to-date information and to provide support and encouragement in this turbulent time. We commend Mother Margaret’s wonderful article in today’s weekly email that offers some guidance for ways to draw on our Lord’s loving presence day-by-day and moment-by-moment.

We know that God will not leave us comfortless. We know that, even when we are physically distant (as we have experienced with hurricane evacuations in the past), we share a spiritual bond of fellowship that transcends space and time and gives us strength. We will be most grateful for your prayers: for all those who are sick and suffering from COVID-19 or any other malady, for all those caregivers, scientists, and public health officials working so hard to stem the spread and calm our common fears, for all those whose concern and fear is feeling overwhelming, and for our parish family as we learn to stay connected even at a distance.

Please, please continue to support and to pray for our common life. We will, by God’s grace, come through this difficult time strong, vibrant, and even more ready to Love and Serve the Lord.

The Rector, Wardens, and Associates

Click here to download a PDF version of this letter.