In response to the spread of the coronavirus in the United States and around the world, The Episcopal Church’s Office of Government Relations has released this Public Health and Policy Advocacy document.
Christians have an obligation to care for people who are poor, sick, in prison, or strangers (Matthew 25: 34 – 46) and in times of great crisis, the federal government is an important resource to help meet a community’s needs. In response to the coronavirus COVID-19, The Episcopal Church encourages everyone to adhere to the Centers for Disease Control’s recommendations to prevent the spread of this virus to not unintentionally harm neighbors at home, at school, at work, or others in the community. While some individuals may be at low risk for the disease, all must ensure they are not transmission vectors that bring the virus into a community where many are at risk.
All people should also familiarize themselves with their state and local public health departments and follow the recommendations of medical and public health officials. Parishes and other community organizations can find specialized recommendations from the CDC here, while guidance for schools is available here.
The Episcopal Church’s Office of Government Relations is responsible for advocating to the United States’ federal government on behalf of the Church, and engaging members through its Episcopal Public Policy Network. As the coronavirus continues to spread throughout communities, the Office of Government Relations is working with federal health officials to share information with The Episcopal Church. Additionally, they are working to advocate to Congress for comprehensive legislation to respond to this ongoing global crisis.
In advocacy, the Church seeks two primary goals. First, a significant expansion in capacity and scale of the federal response to test, treat, and protect all people from this virus. And second, to strengthen federal programs to help the many individuals and families who are and will be harmed by the economic impact long after the virus has peaked.
The Episcopal Church teaches that we can “recognize the presence of the Holy Spirit when we confess Jesus Christ as Lord and are brought into love and harmony with God, with ourselves, with our neighbors, and with all creation” (The Book of Common Prayer, The Catechism, pg. 852). During this time there is great uncertainty, but Christians, as followers of Jesus, are also shown the presence of the Holy Spirit through love for each other which is lived out in our sacrifices to help protect and support the most vulnerable.
This initial document focuses on the U.S. domestic policy situation, though many of the public health recommendations would be appropriate across the many nations and territories Episcopalians call home. In urging Episcopalians to adhere to the Centers for Disease Control’s recommendations we are reminded of the Commandment to “love our neighbors as ourselves” and the need to prioritize the health and wellness of all neighbors by examining our own habits.
Learn more about the Office of Government Relations here.
To sign up for the Episcopal Public Policy Network, click here.