The following letter was sent to The Episcopal Church House of Bishops earlier today.
March 4, 2020
My sisters and brothers in Christ,
Earlier this week, I wrote to let you know that I have been in conversation with members of the HOB leadership, my senior staff, and others, regarding the planned gathering next week at Camp Allen. Our discussions have been focused on developing the most appropriate way forward, given the serious and rapidly changing situation surrounding the COVID-19 virus.
In light of these conversations, I have decided to change and relocate our meeting from a physical gathering at Camp Allen to a series of virtual gatherings to be held within the currently scheduled time period. You should therefore plan not to travel to Camp Allen but hold the days for a virtual gathering of Bishops via computer.
My decision is limited to this unique context. If we were a smaller group traveling from a few locations, I might well have decided otherwise. But given what we know and what we don’t yet know about the spread of this virus, I have determined that the benefits of an in-person meeting do not clearly outweigh the potential public and personal health risks that could arise from gathering 130 people from around the U.S. and multiple other countries — who would travel through multiple airports, interact with personnel at the Camp, then travel again home.
The decision was made easier because we have an alternative way of meeting. The virtual meeting will not be perfect. The quality of in-depth community that happens when we gather face-to-face will not be possible. But some of the other core tasks that are part of our spring meeting can be engaged, and in my judgment that makes a virtual meeting worthwhile.
I will advise you of more details and logistics of this change as well as the adjusted schedule and content in the coming days. The planning team will do our best to be sensitive to the wide variation of time zones among our members. Again, specific details will be sent to you soon, but I do ask that you continue to hold open the original schedule on your calendars.
In these times of insecurity regarding healthy and safety, we turn to the One who provides peace and grace to all who seek it.
“Now may the God of peace, who brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, make you complete in everything good so that you may do his will, working among us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” (Hebrews 13:20-21)
Your brother in Christ,