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Closing Church Buildings During the Stay At Home, Stay Safe Order

Dear People of God in the Diocese of Vermont, Yesterday, Governor Scott issued a “ Stay at Home, Stay Safe” order . The order went into effect at 5:00 p.m. today and is set to expire April 15. It directs Vermonters to “stay at home, leaving only for essential reasons, critical to health and safety.” It also requires the closure of all non-essential businesses and non-profits. In keeping with our commitment as Christians to protect the most vulnerable among us, and in the interest of setting an example of love for our neighbor, I am directing that our church buildings be closed for the duration of the “stay at home, stay safe” order . The only exception to this directive is for congregations that host essential feeding programs. I encourage clergy and congregations to continue using Zoom, Facebook and other streaming technologies to provide opportunities for worship and fellowship online, but I must ask that these streams originate from your homes and not from inside church buildings. If you have items essential to your ministry at your church, please retrieve them by the end of the day. I know how challenging and unpredictable this time is for our parish leaders. I thank you for the care and creativity you have shown in making sure the church remains open even while our buildings are closed. I want you to know we are here to support you as we work our way through this extraordinary time. To that end, we have set up an online giving system that can also be accessed by clicking “donate” on the diocesan homepage. This system allows anyone to donate to any of our congregations or institutions online at any time using the drop-down menu. It can also be accessed by downloading the Give+ app on your mobile phone (available at the App Store or Google Play ) and searching “Episcopal Diocese of Vermont.” If your congregation finds itself in the midst of any hardship, financial or otherwise, during this time, please be in touch with me via email or with Canon Lynn Bates via email . We are here to help. Like many of you, I am grieving the gift of being in our church buildings – of singing, praying, hugging, serving and sharing communion. And yet, as I said on Sunday, I am certain we have grown closer and more connected than we have ever been. We are the body of Christ, and we are still the church. Thank you for your continued work in finding creative ways to be followers of Jesus in this time – it is a testimony of our commitment to embody hope and love. Peace and blessings, Bishop Shannon

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