March 19, 2020. 6:38pm
We just received word that Governor Wolf has called for the closing of all non-life sustaining businesses effective at 8:00 pm this evening (3/19/20). Our Synod Attorney, Megan Will, has informed me that this means that we should close our church offices and doors until this shutdown is lifted. Staff should remain home until this passes.
The Synod Office will be closing this evening. However, Pastor Paula, Pastor Becca, and I are available via email if you need anything. Please reach out to us if you need any assistance:
Pastor Paula: Paula.Schmitt@alleghenysynod.com
Pastor Becca: Becca.Ehrilich@alleghenysynod.com
Bishop Michael: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mrs. Will informs us that pastors can be in the church building if there is a need. However neither the office, or the congregation is to be ‘open’ until this shutdown ends. Mrs. Will writes, “Truly, please stay home if you can. Sanctions, including civil and criminal sanctions, can and will be levied by the Governor's office for failure to comply. We must take this seriously.”
There is a document that has come from the Governor’s Office that does say that Religious Organizations are allowed to function at this time. Mrs. Will explains that is to allow rostered ministers to continue their functions as pastors and deacons and carry out those duties in situations of emergency pastoral care for the people of God. Church offices should be closed until we receive word to re-open them. We are still following the Governor’s order for suspension of in-person worship.
As I said earlier this week, this is a unique time in the church. None of us have experienced a series of events like this before. I thank God for all of you who are caring for God’s people. I pray that you will be strengthened by the presence of our Lord Jesus who will lead and guide you.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me or the members of our Synod team. We are here for you. We are walking with you. Let us know what you need. Please contact us if you have questions.
+Bishop Michael Rhyne
Lord Jesus Christ. We pray for this world and all who are effected by this outbreak. We find ourselves in a place that we have not been before. We ask you Lord to give us the peace of your presence. Still our anxious hearts. Lead us to take those precautions which will protect us and our families. Show us how to care for our neighbor and all those in need. Most of all Lord, heal those who are ill, comfort those who have lost loved ones, and lead us through this uncertainty. We place our hope and trust in you, and pray that you will show us how extend your love and care to each other. In your name we pray. Amen