27 February 2020
Dear Clergy and Members of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Pennsylvania,
The arrival of the Coronavirus in the United States has prompted several of you to inquire about implications for our common life and worship in the Church. I have consulted with our Diocesan Disaster and Emergency Preparedness Coordinator, Mr. Ed Robertson, and also with our Canon for Communications, Mrs. Alexis Guszick, who is in regular contact with her colleagues across the wider Church on this matter.
Here are facts about the Coronavirus (Covid-19): Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The virus that causes COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus that was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China. In recent weeks, the virus has spread from China to other countries.
At this time, common-sense precautions are recommended- the same precautions that are in place during the cold and flu season:
Episcopal Relief & Development (episcopalrelief.org) offers these additional guidelines for church communities and when we gather together for worship:
If the virus becomes more widespread in our area, we will offer recommendations for alterations to our common practices that include gathering for worship and meetings, care of the vulnerable among us, and sacramental nurture during isolation. We will also address the role of the Church in society during a pandemic and best practices for serving as a community resource. Please know that our Diocesan Disaster and Emergency Preparedness Coordinator, Ed Robertson, is in regular contact with officials at Disaster Information Management Research Center at the National Institutes of Health and the National Voluntary Organizations Active In Disaster (VOAD) and he is prepared with plans for Continuing of Operations and procedures in the event of a large scale quarantine.
Please keep those who are sick across our world in your prayers, and those who care for them:
For the Sick
O God of heavenly powers, by the might of your command you drive away from our bodies all sickness and all infirmity: Be present in your goodness with your servants that their weakness may be banished and their strength restored; and that, their health being renewed, they may bless your holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen. (BCP pg. 458, adapted)
For Doctors and Nurses
Sanctify, O Lord, those whom you have called to the study and practice of the arts of healing, and to the prevention of disease and pain. Strengthen them by your life-giving Spirit, that by their ministries the health of the community may be promoted and your creation glorified; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen. (BCP pg. 460)
In the Way of Love,
The Rt. Rev. Audrey C. Scanlan