To our diocesan family,
I come before you today after reviewing the most recent directives from Governor Lee and the Shelby County Health Department as well as guidance from advisors. We are all aware of the rapidly increasing stresses on our health care system given the rise in COVID-19 cases. The protocols put in place by our respective faith communities beginning in June have served us very well. To my knowledge, there has been no coronavirus transmission from church attendance thus far, and I want to thank our church leaders for their diligence in ensuring the safety of all persons involved.
However, the Christmas holiday season will put extra pressure on an already stressed system. The diocesan leadership team has been paying close attention to health information from across the country and here in Tennessee since Thanksgiving. We are concerned that because persons are engaging in more activities which increase the possibility of exposure to coronavirus, someone may inadvertently spread COVID-19. The consequences of a failure in the system at this point would be significant.
Therefore, as part of our Christian witness and our responsibility for the health and safety of the larger community, I am asking all faith communities in the Diocese of West Tennessee to temporarily suspend in person worship and indoor activities with more than 10 persons for at least the next several weeks.
My heart is heavy as I share this decision during this most holy season of the year. I know many of you were looking forward to gathering in community to celebrate the birth of our Lord later this week. May God continue to give us a sense of the presence of the Holy Spirit as we navigate these difficult days.
Bishop Phoebe Roaf