As most of you know by now, I am an Episcopalian without a church.
The tiny church that I was a part of split in two during the Year of Corona, along a fault line that lay between those who were afraid and those who were not afraid. The former group, although they were in the minority, got the church building by calling on the bishop for help. The latter group, the majority — the Bolsheviks, as it were — went into exile. Our little congregation includes the priest, the organist, the lay reader — that’s me — and several other members of the congregation. We meet clandestinely on Sundays in the living room of one of our number, and have lunch afterwards in the adjacent dining room. We never wear masks or social distance from one another, take communion in the normal fashion, and sing joyously without worrying about contagion.
However, the leadership and the bureaucracy of the Diocese of Southern Virginia — what Dymphna used to call the “Winter Palace” — are very much on the fearful side of the dividing line. They became officially afraid in March of 2020, and have remained afraid ever since, refusing to release the churches of the diocese from bondage even after Governor Coonman cancelled the state of emergency and let his people go.
Today the Winter Palace sent out the following advisory to remind the sheep that they must remain very, very afraid. I used to think Christians put their trust in the Lord, but now we are commanded to place our trust in Fauci, and in Him alone.
You’ll note that the call to alarm in this missive is based on “cases”. Not on whether more people are getting sick or dying from the dreaded Corona, but on instrument readings generated by notoriously inaccurate tests that purport to detect the presence of
Lucifer COVID-19 in the bodies of the faithful.
Emphases are in the original:
Health Advisory Panel Update
The coronavirus is not receding. In the first fourteen days of the month, the number of cases nationwide increased by 49%. In the Commonwealth of Virginia, the number of new cases surged by over 80%. Tragically, the number succumbing to the virus nation-wide surpassed 800,000 deaths. Spiking hospitalizations are constraining hospital services to non-COVID patients.
We are all accustomed to the need for additional precautions each winter as temperatures drop and cases of the flu and the common cold rise, but this is not an ordinary year. The presence of the coronavirus, the rise in hospitalizations attributable to the delta variant, and the speed at which the omicron variant is spreading reinforce the importance of being vigilant in safeguarding our own health and the health of others.
Our Health Advisory Panel met again on Monday of this week and in light of these developments urged caution, particularly when holding public gatherings, including worship. Accordingly, I am issuing my strongest statement this calendar year regarding safe worship practices. COVID protocols matter. While decision-making about congregation-specific protocols remains with parish clergy and vestries, congregations must revisit their protocols and reinforce measures to mitigate the risk of transmission including mask wearing at worship and physical distancing. Readiness for effective contact tracing also merits consideration. This is not the time to relax safe practices, even though all of us are more than ready for the pandemic to recede.
Congregations must assure that their designated Health Coordinator or Health Equity Team monitor developments and adjust protocols based on local health indicators, and in particular, the number of cases per 100,000 people in their city, county, or health district.
That information is accessible here.
Currently the 7-day average number of cases per 100,000 has risen to 29.9 across the Commonwealth, but local numbers vary. Accurate data is essential to sound decision-making.
As I wrote to you just two weeks ago, “together, we are ‘weathering the storm’ of this pandemic, and together we put our trust in God who is guiding us to re-emerge.” Let’s persevere and take heart.
You who live in the shelter of the Most High,
who abide in the shadow of the Almighty,
will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress; my God in whom I trust.”
For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence;
he will cover you with his pinions and under his wings you will find refuge.