A Message from the Office of the Bishop | Exercising Reasonable Caution
As the coronavirus affects more and more people throughout the metro New York area, and the world, here at the MNYS Office of the Bishop it is our duty and calling to take care of all of you. If we exercise reasonable caution and act collectively with leaders and members of our Lutheran communities, we will be able to endure this troublesome time. Above all, we must remain calm and act responsibly for the good of everyone, TOGETHER.
WHAT IS THE NEXT STEP?
After much consideration and wise advice, we...
· Urge all congregations to postpone or cancel all in-person gatherings, including services, events, meetings, and bible studies, through March 31. This is following the recommendation from the Office of the Mayor and Governor. Contact with one another must be kept to a minimum in order to ensure everyone's safety.
· Are considering postponing our 2020 Annual Synod Assembly, as we do not want to endanger our Lutheran siblings and their communities. We expect a final decision to be made within the next two weeks, as we monitor the developing situation.
· Will close the Metropolitan New York Synod’s Office of the Bishop until further notice. Synod staff will continue to work remotely.
· Will offer services of word, online. Bishop Egensteiner and his assistants, will provide a series of digital service of word videos for viewing, in order to reduce feelings of isolation, enabling our members to sense the Holy Spirit's presence in their lives, and keep our faithful community connected.
· Will continue to monitor the coronavirus pandemic in order to offer the most up-to-date advice to all our ordained and lay leaders.
WHY DO WE THINK THESE RECOMMENDATIONS ARE NECESSARY?
Again, our priority is to maintain the health and well-being of all members of our community. This is not a panicked or rash approach, but a series of cognizant and cautious decisions to ensure the safety of ALL OUR SIBLINGS.
Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton said in her recent pastoral letter: “Two hundred years earlier the plague had swept across Europe killing up to 40% of the population. Understandably, people were anxious and wondered what a safe and faithful response might be. In answer to this, Martin Luther wrote ‘WhetherOne May Flee from a Deadly Plague.’ In it, he emphasized the duty to care for the neighbor, the responsibility of government to protect and provide services to its citizens, a caution about recklessness, and the importance of science, medicine and common sense.”
Additionally, these statewide facts and implementations remain, and should not be ignored:
· New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced aggressive efforts to contain the coronavirus outbreak in the state, indicating that extremely limited person-to-person contact is at the core of these efforts.
· New York will ban most gatherings of more than 500 people.
· Restricting smaller gatherings is a vital step toward fighting the growing outbreak of the coronavirus in the state.
· These new rules took effect on Thursday at 5pm for Broadway theaters, and will take effect for other venues on Friday at 5pm.
These state-wide restrictions are New York’s most forceful move yet to try to mitigate the spread of this virus.
As the Office of the Bishop for the Metropolitan New York Synod, it is imperative that we urge similar efforts for our congregations and communities. We must not just think of ourselves in these moments, but consider EVERYONE, and act accordingly.