On Friday, March 13, the Rt. Rev. Lawrence Provenzano, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island, released a video announcing his decision to temporarily suspend all in-person liturgies for two Sundays.
The Rev. Canon John Denaro, rector of St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church and Pro-Cathedral, announced the bishop’s directive to the parish community with the following statement:
An Important Message from the Rector
I write with an update on the impact of the growing crisis caused by the spread of the Coronavirus on our life at St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church and Pro-Cathedral.
Though our primary mission as a church is to gather the faithful regularly for prayer and worship, our bishop, the Rt. Rev. Lawrence Provenzano, has made a bold decision and today issued a directive to suspend all in-person liturgies and gatherings in the churches of the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island initially through March 26.
For this week, we expect to have a video of the Lent III liturgy, with the Rev. Chris Lee serving as our guest deacon and preacher, available for screening by this Sunday morning, March 15. Please watch for an announcement that the video has been posted on the parish website.
While I find the idea of closing the doors of the church deeply disheartening, I believe the bishop is demonstrating strong and faithful leadership under the difficult circumstances we all face.
In the past week, and more particularly over the last 24 hours, church leaders, faith leaders in all traditions, along with government officials across the country, have worked to keep pace with the fast-changing and increasingly alarming dynamics of the Coronavirus pandemic. Numerous businesses, cultural institutions, universities and schools have announced temporary closures, choosing to exercise extreme caution to reduce transmission of the virus and do their part to “flatten the curve” of the high rate of infection. Entire dioceses in the Episcopal Church have suspended in-person liturgies and gatherings, as have houses of worship of every stripe. We can now add our own diocese to this list.
Our creator God calls on us to care for all creation, which certainly translates to doing all we can to protect ourselves and all others, especially those at high risk of infection and other vulnerable people. Mo. Kate, Fr. Craig and the parish wardens, Léon Willis and Halley Taylor, are committed to keeping our community connected and regularly contacting all our members for as long as we are forbidden to gather together.
I will end by acknowledging that it is natural to worry about the rising numbers of COVID-19 infections and states of emergency declared in several states, including New York, and just today in New York City. Please know that I and the leadership of our church want to support you in resisting panic, maintaining a prayerful calm, and keeping the faith to guard against our present public health concerns becoming mental health and spiritual crises.
Please do not hesitate to reach out to me, Mo. Kate, or Fr. Craig for pastoral support in the coming days and week.
Yours in mission and hope,