Update from Diocese – March 23, 2020

Below is an update from the Diocese of Montana shared today via email.

Bishop Marty has ordered all Episcopal churches in Montana to cease regular worship in person until May 10th at this point.  This is to comply with both our various county public health authorities and the national call for no group gatherings of ten or greater in number.  If the pandemic abates beforehand, the restart date may be moved to sooner.  Many of our churches are either broadcasting, livestreaming or otherwise recording services so that people can worship remotely.   The clergy had a Zoom meeting with Bishop Marty this last Friday, and several strategies are being developed to help congregations maintain their spiritual health.

Funerals will be family-only to keep the attendance below ten people at this point in time.  Clergy have already been advised of this.  It is hoped that larger memorial services will be offered after the pandemic is over.

Montana is beginning its epidemic curve, please help our medical profession out by assuming you could be infected and follow social distancing recommendations to reduce other people’s exposure.  To model this, all meetings with diocesan personnel will be done by phone, GoTo Meeting, Zoom or social media.  All clergy are also requested to follow this example, except for pastoral emergencies outside of hospital settings.  Most hospitals are ceasing in-person visitations, including clergy.  Please remember to notify your clergy if you go to the hospital: they may not be able to visit in person, but can keep in contact and pray for you.

Because of all the closures of businesses, there are many people who are in financial straits.  Clergy expenditures to help people in need is rising rapidly.  Please give generously to the clergy discretionary accounts and other non-profits so that people can continue to eat, have a roof over their heads, and have heat.  And please do not forget to continue your church pledges and contributions.

For those whose visitations have been cancelled, Bishop Marty will start looking at new dates, based on projections on when the pandemic will be behind us.  Lambeth has been postposed until 2021, so the later summer Sundays will be opening up.

Here is the current CDC information for the faith community:  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/organizations/index.html

Below are some at-home and small gathering worship and study resources. Please share with the diocesan office other resources you have found helpful:

Author: Father Stephen

Father Stephen started serving as the rector of St. Stephen's Episcopal Church on January 10, 2020. Prior to that position he served as priest-in-charge in Miles City and Forsyth, Montana. He is originally from West Virginia and has experience in youth ministry, mission work and more.