A video message from Bishop Lowry on the CTC's response to the latest spike in COVID-19 across our conference, state and nation can be found at the end of this blog post. To download the video to share with your church or small group, go to the CTC's Vimeo page.
As infections and deaths from COVID-19 spike at an alarming and dangerous rate, I ask that we, as a people of goodwill, join together in observing the best medical and social practices designed to halt the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic for the sake of ourselves, our loved ones & friends, and all with whom we may come in contact. I urge us to follow all appropriate mask wearing and social distancing protocols.
As Bishop of the Central Texas of the United Methodist Church, I am emphatically requesting the that churches and congregations across the Central Texas Conference emphasize and encourage online worship. As your Bishop, along with the Cabinet, we have encouraged an emphasis in online worship since March, but it is especially vital now that this dangerous virus is spiking across our Conference, state and nation. Where possible, may we together refrain from in-person social gatherings that place ourselves and others at risk. Decisions about the continuance of limited in-person worship should be made by the lay and clergy leadership of each local church with prudence and caution appropriate to your specific context.
The great commandment shared in Leviticus 19 and emphasize by our Lord Jesus Christ in all of the gospels (especially illustrated by Jesus in Luke 10 with the parable of the ‘good Samaritan’) embeds a commitment to love God and love our neighbor at the very center of the Christian faith. Furthermore, our moral commitment as a nation to each other as explicitly stated in the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States is “to promote the general welfare.” This same Preamble to the Constitution connects justice and “the blessings of liberty” with a social covenant to care for our collective “general welfare”. Together, we must not let mask wearing and social distancing become a political point of partisan divide. Rather, may we respond with the “better angels of our nature” by together caring for everyone in our church and community.
Friends in the faith, let us “up our game” with even more attentive mask wearing and diligent social distancing. Let us be committed to even greater diligence in attention to appropriate social and medical behavior as positive tests for COVID-19 accelerate. Please follow the advice and directives of your County Judge, Governor Abbot, and appropriate medical authorities. Do not use “COVID fatigue” as an excuse for lowering our guard and failing to follow prudent medical advice. COVID-19 does not respect party affiliation, faith commitment, county boarders, or even family connections.
With great appreciation for our collective ministry, I wish to re-emphasize that I am asking you, where possible, to refrain from in-person social gatherings that place ourselves and others at risk. Decisions about the continuance of limited in-person worship should be made by the lay and clergy leadership of each local church with prudence and caution appropriate to your specific context. (I am always mindful that the situation or context varies greatly across the Central Texas Conference. The impact of COVID-19 in Palo Pinto County differs from the impact in Williamson or Bosque or Tarrant County.) This is a time to pause and prayerfully/carefully reconsider how you and your church are engaging in best medical practices for combating COVID-19 – i.e. social distancing, mask wearing, hand washing, sanitizing facilities, etc. The alarming and dangerous rise in COVID-19 infections and deaths calls us to a prudent and prayerful reconsideration of in-person worship together as lay and clergy leaders.