The Rt. Rev. Jennifer A. Reddall, Bishop of Arizona


July 29, 2020, Updated Gathering for Abundant Life Guidelines

We promised when we published the Gathering for Abundant Life guidelines that we would update them as we received new information and learned more about COVID-19. In that spirit, with greater understanding around how being outside can help mitigate the change of contracting COVID-19, we have the following update to offer for our congregations today:

Outdoor worship services for 50 people or less can begin when:

 

Your congregation has a diocesan-approved Phase II plan and agree to follow all your Phase II procedures (masks, distancing, etc.) for outdoor worship.

 

Hospital capacity decreases so that there is 30% capacity in inpatient beds (i.e., 70-% of beds are full). Currently, there is 19% capacity in inpatient beds; we will notify the diocese when the threshold is reached. You can look up these statistics at www.azdhs.gov.

 

For indoor services, we will still plan to enter Phase II county by county looking for a decline in both case counts and per capita rates, along with the other measures recommended by the CDC. Due to the current high rates of infection, it is possible that there will be a two-week decline in infection rates in a particular county, but that we will still not be prepared to enter Phase II. The task force is working on establishing fair and consistent measures and will notify all congregations by county once there is a sufficient decline to indicate that it is safe to gather indoors.


July 22, 2020, Hope and Grief 

By the Rt. Rev. Jennifer A Reddall, Bishop of Arizona

One of the unexpected hopes I've discovered in the last few months arising from the renewed national attention on racial justice has been a broad ecumenical coalition of churches standing up to take action to end racism. This Saturday, I will join with other bishops and clergy from evangelical/megachurches, Black churches, Roman Catholics, and mainline Protestants for "From Chaos and Crisis to Community in Christ: The Church addresses systemic racism through Confession, Repentance, Reconciliation, Restoration, and Commitment."

 

Pastor Warren Stewart of the First Institutional Baptist Church, which is coordinating the event, refers to this as a kairos moment--a moment of time that is God's time breaking through upon our ordinary, chronos-scheduled days. In all my years of ministry, I can count on one hand (actually, I can count on one finger) the times that I have worked with evangelical/megachurches on a justice issue. We are so often at odds with one another over real and fundamental differences in understanding what it means to follow Jesus faithfully, and what God's justice on earth looks like.

 

But this moment, this kairos moment, is bringing us together, shoulder to shoulder, to testify to our participation in and complicity with the sin of racism, and our intention to work in a unified way to bring about racial justice. I find it hopeful. And maybe this one hope will lead to other hopes for justice.

 

Tune in online on Saturday morning at 8:00 a.m. to pray, witness, and commit with me and other Christians to dismantling racial injustice.

From Chaos_and_Crisis_to_Community_in_Christ_Flyer

 

One of the greatest griefs of the last few months has been our inability to gather for funerals. Whether a loved one has died of COVID-19, or from any other cause, we have been unable to gather to grieve and pray, except in very small groups, and without the usual music and ritual that help us find solace and comfort.

 

We will be hosting an online diocesan memorial service for all those who have died during the pandemic in mid to late August. Music will be provided by "virtual choirs" from around the diocese, including two pieces that are open to all Arizona Episcopalians.

 

If you would like to submit a name of a loved one who has died during the pandemic to be read during the service, you can do so to our receptionist, Serrena Addal.

 

I am grateful to the organists and choirmasters from around the diocese who are contributing their gifts and skills to this, especially Joey Ripka from All Saints' (Phoenix) and Erik Goldstrom from Trinity Cathedral (Phoenix). More information on how to participate as a musician will be sent out soon.

 

This is not a substitute for that in-person gathering that will help family and friends grieve. But it is a way to gather and focus our prayers, and encounter our sure and certain hope in the resurrection. Grief and hope together, once more.


 

July 8, 2020 Treasure

By The Rt. Rev. Jennifer A Reddall, Bishop of Arizona


Every so often, as your bishop, I am given an historic treasure. The most recent was at the Rev. Adrian Tubb's ordination in Holbrook 10 days ago, when the Rev. Norm Burke asked me to come out to his truck because he had something for me.

 

A sturdy black metal suitcase--it's a much larger and more substantial version of the portable communion kit that many clergy use today.

Epistle 070820-3

 

The letter accompanying it stated:

"Originally owned by Navy Chaplain Captain Don Shannon who died in action in the Pacific Theatre during World War II. His family received it and gave it to the Rev. B. Norman Burke in the Diocese of Chicago upon whose death it passed on the Rev. Norman C. Burke who used it in the development and ministry at All Saints Church, Sun City; Church of the Advent, Sun City West; St. John the Baptist, Glendale; St. Anthony's, Scottsdale; St. James, Tempe; Church of the Transfiguration, Apache Junction; St. Paul's, Payson; St. Augustine's, Tempe; Chapel Rock Conference Center, Prescott."

This is a treasure. A quick google search for the chaplain's name turned up part two of the U.S. Navy History of the Chaplain Corps, which indicates that the chaplain who originally owned this kit was Eugene R. Shannon, an Episcopal priest, who was killed in action on February 21, 1945. May he rest in peace, and rise in glory.

For 75 years since, this kit has been in the service of our Lord, working with two dioceses, eight Arizona congregations and our summer camp. It belongs to all of us, and has touched the lives of many, bringing Jesus to the people of God, wherever they are.

Epistle 070820-1

I am so grateful to Norm for this gift. It is a treasure. But like all gifts, this one needs to be used to be fruitful. What congregation--what possible church plant--what dislocated community needs it now? Who hopes to be worshiping in a park or outdoors and needs a little altar and cross?

If your congregation would make good use of this--especially if you're a congregation that has not yet used it--please let me know, and I will loan it out to you so that it can continue to serve the people of God.

 

July 1, 2020 Being the Body of Christ When We Cannot Receive the Body of Christ

By The Rt. Rev. Jennifer A Reddall, Bishop of Arizona

 

My Jesus, I believe that you are truly present in the Blessed Sacrament of the bread and wine. I love you above all things, and long for you in my soul. Since I cannot now receive you sacramentally, come spiritually into my heart. I embrace you and unite myself entirely to you; never permit me to be separated from you. Amen.

 

Celebrant: While we long to receive the sacrament of Christ's Body,

People: We become the sacrament of Christ's Body.

Celebrant: Let your lives be manna to feed our hunger for communion.

People: The love we share becomes bread for the world.

--Taken from worship services at All Saints, Frederick, MD

 

On July 1, it will be exactly four months since the last time I celebrated the Eucharist. It will be three and a half months since the last time I received the Eucharist.

There's never been such a period of sacramental absence in my life since I was admitted to receive communion when I was eleven years old. We used to have communion once a month--I think it was the third Sunday of the month--but then it became a weekly--if not daily--discipline.

I miss people, I miss worship, I miss singing, I miss face-to-face contact that is not mediated by a screen. I'm sure you do, too. I miss the taste of bread and wine, and the look in each person's eyes as I say, "The Body of Christ, the Bread of Heaven," while giving them that visible sign of Christ's love for us. I had underappreciated how profound I find those momentary connections, and how much I miss them.

 

This period of fasting from Eucharist has not been one--so far--of deep spiritual renewal for me. But it does call me into more creative places, and I do feel Jesus in my heart. Jesus is with me in my joys and in my prayers of sorry; my prayers for healing for so many; my prayers of grief for those who have died, and their families who must mourn without our usual rituals and traditions in community.

 

I am conscious that clergy are stretched and exhausted with the nonstop challenges of ministry during COVID-19. They didn't sign up to be videographers and film editors, and yet many of them have bravely and faithfully done so. They are on the phone a lot. Many of the moments of ministry that provide joyous rewards, like baptisms and deep conversations and delighted children in worship have dried up. They continue out of love. There is something sacramental about that kind of sacrifice on behalf of their people. But it is also unsustainable without lay support, changing roles, and periodic opportunities for Sabbath rest.

 

On July 12, the Diocese of Arizona will offer a bilingual worship service, including the prayer above, for all our congregations in order to give our clergy a Sunday off. Join us at 9:00 a.m. on our YouTube channel for worship. Information about how to access a diocesan coffee hour at 10:00 a.m. has been distributed through our congregations.

 

This is not a solution to clergy exhaustion, or to the need for vacation time and Sabbath rest. But hopefully it is one piece of a puzzle moving towards that.

And let us be the Body of Christ. Let our love for one another, for our neighbor, and for God be food for the hungry world


June 19, 2020 Juneteenth

By The Rt. Rev. Jennifer A. Reddall, Bishop of Arizona

 

"For freedom Christ has set us free." -- Galatians 5:1

 

I'm not sure when I learned about Juneteenth, except that I'm sure it was far later than it ought to be. Possibly there was some little highlighted box in a high school U.S. History textbook, describing June 19, 1865 when the news finally came to slaves in Texas that two and a half years before they had technically been freed by the Emancipation Proclamation. But if so, it was not taught as an event that was central to a common understanding of United States History, and it didn't stick.

 

As a holiday dedicated to the belated (and possibly deliberate) delay of freedom and good news, it's fitting to consider what other stories and histories we are hearing belatedly. The movie Hidden Figures opened a window into the contributions of African American women to the space race that many of us had never known. My first trip to the Heard Museum opened my eyes to the prevalence of Indian Boarding Schools on a scale I had never realized. Stories of women, stories of LGBTQ+ leaders, stories of immigrants...each story learned is, its own way, a step towards the freedom of Christ, because it is a step towards wholeness, a step towards valuing all stories, and not just those of the dominant culture. No one can be free until we are all free.

 

I remember fairly clearly my first encounter in 1998 of Lift Every Voice and Sing, the "Black National Anthem" by James Weldon Johnson and his brother J. Rosamond Johnson. I was an aspiring seminarian doing a Ministry Study Year at St. Philip's in South Central Los Angeles, the historic African American church in the Diocese of Los Angeles.

 

There's a whole additional national anthem that I don't know? But isn't The Star Spangled Banner a national anthem for all Americans? I was confused. Bless that congregation for their patience with me, as they answered my questions, and as I listened to their stories of serving as Tuskegee Airmen, and living through migrations around the U.S. and Los Angeles.

I didn't know Lift Every Voice then. But I do now. Every word.

Lift ev'ry voice and sing,

'Til earth and heaven ring,

Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;

Let our rejoicing rise

High as the list'ning skies,

Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.

Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,

Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;

Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,

Let us march on 'til victory is won.

Stony the road we trod,

Bitter the chastening rod,

Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;

Yet with a steady beat,

Have not our weary feet

Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?

We have come over a way that with tears has been watered,

We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered,

Out from the gloomy past,

'Til now we stand at last

Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.

God of our weary years,

God of our silent tears,

Thou who has brought us thus far on the way;

Thou who has by Thy might

Led us into the light,

Keep us forever in the path, we pray.

Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee,

Lest, our hearts drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee;

Shadowed beneath Thy hand,

May we forever stand,

True to our God,

True to our native land

 

Good Lord, Deliver Us

June 12, 2020

By The Rt. Rev. Jennifer A. Reddall, Bishop of Arizona

 

"From all blindness of heart; from pride, vainglory, and hypocrisy; from envy, hatred and malice; and from all want of charity, Good Lord, deliver us...

"From lightning and tempest; from earthquake, fire, and flood; from plague, pestilence, and famine, Good Lord, deliver us." (Great Litany, BCP page 149)

The fires in the Catalina Mountains (started by a lightning strike) have provided this week's new crisis for many of our people. We pray for those who have been forced to evacuate and for those fighting the fires; that all may be kept safe.

 

The Great Litany is a catalogue of all that can harm us; and all the ways in which we can sin. In just these two petitions, I see our present moment: immediate concerns of lightning and fire; continued plague and pestilence with the increasing cases of COVID-19 in Arizona; and the blindness of heart, hypocrisy, hatred, and want of charity that are the hallmarks of racism.

I believe with all crises, we are called to start with prayer, and then move to action. The Litany is a good prayer to begin with.

For an update on our actions around COVID-19, so far, 11 congregations have had their Phase II plans approved, and another 15 congregations have submitted initial plans and are in the process of revising them. However, due to the increase in COVID-19 infections statewide, none of our congregations have actually been able to enter Phase II. It is good to be prepared, and I pray that we will see a sustained decrease in infections primarily for the well-being and health of citizens of our state; but also so that our congregations can begin to regather safely face-to-face. In the meantime, I urge you to be safe: to wear a mask when in public; to keep a safe distance from others; and to stay home as much as possible.

Our gathering of masks, supplies, and funds for our Native American communities has been incredibly successful and appreciated; over 2,000 masks were donated; over $14,000 in contributions is being distributed; and 12 flights of supplies were delivered last week to the Hualapai tribe through the support of several congregations. Thank you.

Our Anti-Racism Committee has been hosting Listening Sessions all week, helping people process their anger, their grief, and their uncertainty about how to help bring about the systemic changes that would end racism in our nation. There is much more work to be done, at every level. By this fall, the revised Anti-Racism training that is mandated by General Convention for all clergy and lay leaders will be available in our diocese. We are called to examine our history as a church, and as individuals, and act as both church and citizens to effect change.

We are called to this work by the Gospel. For a fuller, reflection, I encourage you to read the words of Bishop Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows of Indianapolis.

I've heard from many of our congregations that they are recommitting to this work within their communities: starting Sacred Ground, opening conversations over Zoom. A list of resources can be found at on our website for opening conversations within your own congregation.

Personally, as a white woman who is the bishop of a diocese that is predominately white, I believe I have a particular call to encourage our white members to examine our privilege, and learn how better to work to end racism. To that end, I am starting a Bishop's Book Club (BBC) to read White Fragility by Robin D'angelo. More information on how to join the BBC is below. This is a first step, not a whole action, but it is an important one, and I hope to see many of you there.

 

Bishop's Book Club

White Fragility: Why it's so Hard for White People to Talk about Racism by Robin D'Angelo

5:00 – 6:00 p.m. on Tuesdays, June 30-July 21 (four sessions)

Episcopalians in the Diocese of Arizona are invited to join Bishop Reddall in a discussion of White Fragility over four Tuesdays in June and July. The book explores the obstacles to discussion of racism and action to end racism among white people. The Book Club will be an opportunity for personal and theological reflection. All are welcome, but the Bishop particularly encourages people to join who are new to anti-racism work, or who do not currently believe that racism is systemic and active.

Visit the registration page to sign up. The Book Club will be held over Zoom. Please have a copy of the book before the first meeting.

 

Statement of the Anti-Racism Committee

June 05, 2020

By The Rt. Rev. Jennifer A. Reddall, Bishop of Arizona

 

This week's epistle is the statement below from our Diocesan Anti-Racism Committee. As part of my work as your new bishop, they have been working on revising and renewing our Anti-Racism training, which will soon be available across the diocese. In the meantime, they are offering online listening sessions immediately to share and to inspire action.

 

I also invite you to join me tonight at our online Vigil for the Dignity of Black Lives at 6:00 p.m.

 

"...from prophet to priest,

everyone deals falsely.

They have treated the wound of my people carelessly,

saying, 'Peace, peace,'

when there is no peace." -- Jeremiah 6:13b-14

 

Dear Friends in Christ,

The words of the prophet Jeremiah can be jarring to those of us who seek to follow the Prince of Peace. St. Paul tells the Galatians that peace is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. And it is surely true that in the perfect and peaceful kingdom of God, no sword will be drawn but the sword of righteousness and no strength known but the strength of love.

However, as Christians we serve a God who also said "Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword," and "I came to cast fire upon the earth. How I wish that it was already ablaze!" Our own Book of Common Prayer contains a collect in which we ask God to "grant us grace fearlessly to contend against evil and to make no peace with oppression" - and our condemnation of evil and oppression in our time must include condemnation of police brutality and the unaccountable killing of Black Americans. The demonstrations we see in streets across the country are not a response to the murder of George Floyd alone, but to a consistent nationwide pattern of sinful and deadly disregard for the value of Black life on the part of government and law enforcement officials.

We are dismayed by the reports, photographs, and videos we have seen of chemical weapons and extreme physical violence being used against protesters across the country, and in our own state. We give thanks for congregations, organizations, and individuals who have risked their own safety in order to care for the needs of others by providing free food, water, shelter, and medical attention to their communities. We remember that Jesus has told us that whenever we provide for the material needs of "the least of these," we are caring directly for him.

As the Diocese of Arizona, we have work to do. We must work to ensure that Arizona Episcopalians who are white are able to listen and learn about the history and present realities of white supremacy and especially anti-Black racism in our nation and in our denomination, and to repent of complicity in racism. We must work to ensure that Arizona Episcopalians of color are able to speak about and mourn the ways that they have suffered under the sin of racism in our society and in our churches. We must all prepare to commit ourselves to establishing the justice that paves the way for peace - not only with our lips, but in our lives.

The Diocese of Arizona is committed to the work of anti-racism and racial reconciliation, not only in the midst of this present crisis, but in the weeks and months and years to come. This work will not always be easy, especially when it requires us to acknowledge the ways that Episcopalians, individually and collectively, have historically benefited from the oppression and exclusion of people who are Black, Latina/o, Native, Asian, and Pacific Islander. Even when repentance is difficult, it is still a manifestation of God's grace. If we want to follow Christ and see the work of reconciliation that Christ's Spirit can do among us and within our communities, the only way forward is through -- inaction is not an option for God's people.

The Anti-Racism Committee is working hard, in conversation with Bishop Reddall, to create resources and opportunities for the people and parishes of our diocese to pray, to speak and listen together, and to "contend against evil and to make no peace with oppression." In all this, we remember that the crucified Christ is King of Kings and Lord of Lords, has conquered sin and death by his resurrection, and, in sending us the Holy Spirit, has promised to be with us always, even to the end of the age. To him be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

 

Dear Friends in Christ,

There will be more work, action, and reflection on the death of George Floyd, and the protests against racism that are surging in our nation in the coming days.

The Diocese of Arizona will be livestreaming a prayer vigil this Friday night, and we encourage all our members to join us in prayer on our YouTube account via the link below.

 

Vigil for the Dignity of Black Lives

Friday, June 5

6:00 p.m.

https://www.youtube.com/user/azdiocese1

Episcopal Diocese of AZ - YouTube

 

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www.youtube.com

 

Clergy are also invited to join a protest tonight in Phoenix between 6:00 and 7:00 p.m. at 6th Avenue and Adams Street organized by Pastor Redeem Robinson of Ebenezer Church, Phoenix.

Yours in Christ,

+Jennifer

 

 

Breathe on Me, Breath of God

May 29,2020

 

This Sunday in our churches, we will hear the story from the Gospel of John describing Jesus' appearance to the disciples on the evening of Easter Sunday, when he says to them, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." And then he breathes on them, and says "Receive the Holy Spirit."

 

He breathed on them . . . The Spirit is given to us by Jesus as breath.

 

And now we hear -- once again -- those chilling words "I can't breathe" from a black man as he is asphyxiated, slowly, by a police officer. The Spirit of Life extinguished from George Floyd in an act of violence that mirrors so many other murders of our African American siblings: Eric Garner, whose dying words were also "I can't breathe" as he was put in an unapproved choke hold by a NYPD officer. Philando Castile in Minneapolis a few years ago. Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor more recently. And so many countless others through the decades.

 

The work of giving breath is the work of the Spirit. It is the foundational work of the Spirit and of the Church. Wherever breath is stolen through injustice, Jesus cries out for change. And Jesus cries out for the church to have courage. Jesus does not breathe on us and say "keep this to yourselves." Jesus breathes on us and sends us out to do the work of the Spirit in the world. To give breath.

 

And speaking from Arizona, I would be remiss if I did not note that breath is being stolen through a virus particularly in our Native American communities, exacerbated by a similar strain of injustice and historic racism that has left so many people on tribal lands so vulnerable.

 

If I was asked to speak about racism 20 or 30 years ago, I would have said very different things than what I say now. Decades of listening to people of color and observing and witnessing their stories, reading books, has transformed my own thinking and convinced me of the reality of systemic racism and injustice, and of the need for continued broad action to combat them, in ways that I might not have imagined 20 or 30 years ago, when I would have said that racism was bad, but I would not have been able to identify how I had benefited from being born white, or have believed that police, judges, store clerks-- and even church leaders -- treat people differently, even when they do not consciously want to, based upon the color of their skin.

 

And that gives me the little sliver of hope today, to accompany my mourning and grief and anger. It is possible for someone who is white to be converted; to see racism differently; to believe the stories of people of color; to learn our history; and to act against racism. It is not easy, and it is not nearly as frequent as Jesus would like it to be.

 

The story of Pentecost in the book of Acts is about a diverse group of people -- who do not get along or admire the disciples particularly -- gathering together and having the Word of God cut through their divisions and speak in words they could hear. Words that they understood. Words that changed them.

 

I invite everyone who is hearing this homily to pray this Sunday for George Floyd and his family and all those who are mourning him. Say his name. And I invite those who are hearing this homily and who are white to read one of the books listed below. Commit yourself, through the power of the Spirit, to opening your ears, and upholding the breath of our siblings who are suffering. God bless you. And God bless the work ahead of us. May the Spirit blow powerfully through our streets and our institutions, and shatter the forces that keep us in this endless cycle of violence and hatred. Amen.

 

America's Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America by Jim Wallis

 

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

 

Disunity in Christ: Uncovering the Hidden Forces that Keep Us Apart by Christena Cleveland

 

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

 

The Sin of White Supremacy: Christianity, Racism, and Religious Diversity in America by Jeannine Hill Fletcher



Gathering for Abundant Life: Arizona Church and Worship in the time of COVID-19

May 11, 2020

Dear Friends in Christ,

"Are we there yet?"

Anyone who has travelled with children—or anyone who travelled as a child—knows that

plaintive cry from the back seat. We are tired of the journey; we are tired of waiting. We are tired

of the limits that sitting in a car imposes. We are ready to be there—wherever "there" may be.

The people of Israel felt that impatience on their 40-year journey from Egypt to the Promised

Land. They got angry at each other, they missed the way things were, and they strayed. They also experienced the radical benevolence of God in sustaining them with unexpected heavenly food and guiding them, eventually, to their new home. A home that was different from the home

they had left, but all the more precious for their time in the desert.

Our Arizona churches are still in the early stages of our journey with COVID-19. We are not "there" yet—and we are not going to be getting "there" any time soon. This journey is not going to be a matter of weeks, but months or years. We will experience—we are experiencing—the

impatience and frustration of a child in a car or the people of Israel during the Exodus. We are also experiencing the radical benevolence of God in sustaining our communities through online worship, generous financial giving, and renewed pastoral bonds and connections. We are heading into a future that is uncertain except for the knowledge that it will be different from the way it was.

So, we are not "there" yet. But we are "here." We are here in the present moment, in our present

circumstances. And Jesus is here with us. Our Task Force has followed the lead of the recommendations of the Center for Disease Control, American Enterprise Institute, Johns Hopkins University, Episcopal Relief and Development, and other experts to create the document "Gathering for Abundant Life: Arizona Church and

Worship in the time of COVID-19." This document will provide guidance for congregations in

the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona to regather during Phase II for some in-person worship and ministry. It will also provide a roadmap and some markers for when we will be able to enter Phase III, which will enable larger gatherings and more face to face ministry.

This may not be a linear journey. A congregation—or the entire diocese—may enter Phase II,

but discover that we need to return to Phase I due to a second wave outbreak of the virus, or a

church member who tests positive for COVID-19.

Bishop Reddall Letter

May 11, 2020

Page 2

Some members of our congregations and clergy have health vulnerabilities such that they will

not be able to participate in person during Phase II, so we urge the continuation of online

offerings for both worship and formation. If the clergy in charge of a congregation are unable,due to health concerns, to lead worship during Phase II, please contact my office to receive support for your lay leaders offering Morning Prayer, or to find supply clergy who are available.

In our Diocese, I am tentatively offering May 31 as the first day that congregations may begin to

enter Phase II and gather for in-person worship, pending:

· A move to Phase II for the State of Arizona by Governor Doug Ducey

· City and local officials' lifting of stay at home restrictions

· A sustained decrease in new COVID-19 cases, and availability of testing in your congregation's county

· Compliance with the following guidelines

· Approval of your congregational plan for Phase II by me

Based on what we are seeing on the Arizona Department of Health website, it is likely that most congregations will not be able to gather in person until after May 31.

We will resist the temptation to pretend the world is the way we want it to be, rather than as it actually is. We will uphold the central command of Jesus to love our neighbors. We will learn and adapt as we journey forward.

This plan depends upon a high level of trust.

We trust that people who are ill will stay home.

We trust that those who attend worship will follow the guidelines.

We trust that those who attend worship and are subsequently diagnosed with COVID-19 will immediately inform their clergy.

We trust that God is here with us, in this present moment, and will continue to love us, guide us,and sustain us.

I am incredibly grateful for the work of the Task Force in preparing these guidelines.

 

Yours in Christ,

+Jennifer

The Right Rev. Jennifer A. Reddall

Sixth Episcopal Bishop of Arizona

AZ Diocese Coronavirus Information

 


Living on the Ark in the Time of COVID-19

April 24, 2020

 

At our Standing Committee yesterday, I began appointing a Task Force for Reopening Arizona Churches which will meet over the next two weeks to draw up a plan for how to safely reopen our churches during the COVID-19 epidemic. We are taking into account resources from the Centers for Disease Control, a paper from Johns Hopkins University directed at state governors, and the Episcopal Diocese of Texas. The Task Force represents churches of all sizes, spread geographically across Arizona.

 

Part of the intense difficulty of this epidemic is that we cannot know exactly when it will be safe for churches of different places, sizes, and vulnerabilities. We are going to do our best to take into account all of those variables, and offer a plan that will give your congregation the tools necessary to regather when it is safe to do so, in a way that maintains the best chance of keeping the community safe. It is hard to live into an unknown future. But with Jesus as the Way, the Truth, and the Life, I have confidence that we will do so with God's blessing and help.

 

In the meantime, I hope that you will enjoy the following theological reflection on life on the ark, and the patience that Noah and his family must have had to keep themselves safe during and after the flood.

 



Message from Bishop Reddall Regarding Coronavirus Response Updates

March 24, 2020

Dear Friends in Christ,

We have a number of updates about faithfully living through this season of COVID-19 in the Diocese of Arizona.

But first, I want to commend all the clergy and lay leaders in our congregations who managed to get their communities worshiping, praying, studying, and conversing online so quickly, and those who established phone trees, and made pastoral calls to members who would otherwise feel isolated and alone. Christ has been demonstrably present in the Church in Arizona this week. Amen.

WORSHIP

I commend to all our congregations the resource of a webinar hosted on Monday at Virginia Theological Seminary, "Triduum Under Quarantine." The videos are available on YouTube and the worship materials are available on their Google drive.

I have heard a number of questions from clergy about practices around Holy Communion. I will respond more fully to them at a future time when I can do so more thoroughly. But know that I hear your questions, and am in conversation with a number of colleagues about a response that reflects our Eucharistic theology and well as our pastoral concern for members of our congregations.

I am also in the process of setting up an alternative for the annual Renewal of Ordination Vows service on Holy Tuesday. Clergy, please keep that date and time open for some sort of worship with me.

We are curating a list of congregations offering online worship on Sundays and weekdays so that people across the diocese can participate as they are able. Please add your services, with links on our Google Sheet.

We had a question about whether you could count online viewers as part of your "Average Sunday Attendance." Until we receive some other guidance from The Episcopal Church about how to record online attendance, please do NOT include online views in your Service Record Book as attending worship. However, I do think this is useful and instructive data to collect-so I encourage you to keep track of your online views because it may help us shape our evangelism in the future.

FINANCIAL UPDATES

Many of you received an email from the Church Pension Group on Monday stating that dioceses are able to ask CPG for a waiver of two months of clergy pension assessments during a disaster. We are completing the application for a waiver of clergy pension assessments for April and May of this year for the entire diocese. Our position is that the Governor's emergency declaration applies to all congregations, and all congregations are experiencing a significant financial burden from the COVID-19 disaster. When we receive a determination from CPG about our application, we will notify you.

More immediately, the Standing Committee approved the creation of a Diocesan Relief Fund to allow congregations who are unable to meet their payroll obligations to obtain a quick loan in order to do so. The application is available on our Coronavirus Resources webpage (under Diocesan Resources).

In the meantime, please continue to encourage your congregation to maintain their pledges and donate online. If you do not currently have online giving, and would like to set it up, FaithStreet is offering the Diocese additional accounts for those congregations.

Please contact bill@azdiocese.org" >Canon Bill Potts to learn more.

DISASTER PREPAREDNESS RESPONSE DURING COVID-19

The first day I put on a clergy collar was September 11, 2001. Living through that disaster, as well as Hurricane Sandy, has made me cognizant of the importance of responding to immediate needs, but also to making decisions that support our long-term ability to respond to disasters well after the intense initial period we are in now. Information on the "Lifecycle of a Disaster" is available on our Disaster/Emergency Preparedness webpage.

Our diocese is a member of the Arizona VOAD (Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster) organization. The leadership of AZ VOAD has reached out to all of its members to ask if there are services that we would not be able to provide because of the COVID-19 crisis. Although I have closed our churches to in-person worship, I am authorizing our churches to be available for disaster response as shelters and/or meal preparation (for those with commercial kitchens) if the church is able to provide the volunteers. Each church would make its own decision about their ability to help.

The Red Cross, one of the members of AZ VOAD, has put out an appeal for places to hold blood drives because many of their regular locations (e.g., schools) are not available now and there is an urgent need for blood of all types. To host a blood drive, a church would only have to open and close the building where the drive would be held and make the restrooms available. No staffing would be necessary by the church. Below is the contact person for the Red Cross. Please reach out and let her know if your church can accommodate.

Christina Flores | Account Manager II

American Red Cross Blood Services

602-448-6169 (c)

PASTORAL CARE

The current practice of "social distancing" means that there should be no in-person visits, by clergy or Lay Eucharistic Visitors, to shut-ins to bring communion, with very few exceptions. There should absolutely be phone calls, letters, cards, and where possible, Zoom conversations or other means of communication.

One absolute exception to that is when a person is near death. Many hospitals in our state are now officially closed for visitors, including clergy, but we have heard from both chaplains and our clergy that it is often possible to get admitted for brief visits with the dying. If you need to make such a visit, please contact the hospital chaplain's office first, and they should be able to help you gain access.

I am, as always, conscious of the incredible privilege of serving as your bishop.

 

Faithfully,

+Jennifer

The Rt. Rev. Jennifer A. Reddall

Sixth Bishop of Arizona

 

Message from Bishop Reddall Regarding Worship and Other Gatherings

March 16, 2020

"That it may please thee to support, help, and comfort all who are in danger, necessity, and tribulation, We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord." --the Great Litany, BCP page 151.

Dear Friends in Christ,

I write to give instructions for congregations in the Diocese of Arizona in the coming weeks in light of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations for gatherings of groups during this pandemic of COVID-19.

I am instructing all of our congregations to cancel all in-person, public worship through at least April 20, and I expect it will be likely to continue longer, as the CDC is recommending cancelling 8 weeks of public gatherings. I also instruct our congregations to cancel all public events involving more than 10 people during this time, including classes, rehearsals, and meetings. All in-person Diocesan events during this time are also cancelled or being moved to online platforms.

I do not take this decision lightly. But it is made out of love. In this particular season, loving our neighbors means being apart from them.

Guidance for several areas of our congregational life is contained below.

WORSHIP

Several of our congregations in Arizona experimented with offering live-streamed worship yesterday. You are all permitted and encouraged to do so; the Diocese is going to attempt to feature one specific service each week to remind us that we are all in this together, and that we can gather collectively in prayer and praise.

I note that we are not cancelling prayer -- if anything we are called to pray more, not less, during this time of trial. We will be offering additional online prayer resources as the days proceed. But at home, use your Book of Common Prayer. If you do not have one, go to your local Episcopal Church and ask to borrow one. If you do not know how to use it for Morning Prayer or other services, we will teach you. I'm planning to do a YouTube tutorial tomorrow on how to pray Morning Prayer on your own. Nothing can separate us from the love of God-and nothing can force our prayers to cease.

PASTORAL CARE and FELLOWSHIP

We are called to love one another, and we are now called to do so in more creative ways. Work with your congregation to establish a phone tree, and reach out particularly to those who are elderly or isolated. Have children write letters and draw pictures for the homebound.

I know many in our congregations will be missing coffee hour as much as worship. Tiffany Cramer (tiffany@azdiocese.org">tiffany@azdiocese.org">tiffany@azdiocese.org), our Events Coordinator, has offered to be a liaison for helping teach you how to set up an online event for your congregation so that you can see each other's faces and talk to friends. Even when you are confined to your home, you are not alone. Christ binds us to one another in life and even in death.

OUTREACH

If there is one area where we must continue to put ourselves at some risk, it is in caring for the most economically vulnerable in our communities. I encourage all congregations to see how they can maintain their food pantries, meal programs, small 12-step meetings, and other ministries that will be absolutely essential during the time when hourly employees are unable to work, and ever more people find themselves food insecure. Do so wisely: keep social distance, disinfect everything, and offer meals to go, or drive up food pantries rather than in your buildings. But do not cease serving the vulnerable. And I encourage those who are able to donate to their clergy's discretionary funds, so that our clergy have the capacity to help those who need help when they come to our doors.

CHURCH OFFICES

At this time, I do not see a need to instruct congregations to close their offices entirely. Follow CDC guidelines about keeping yourselves safe, use good judgment about which staff and volunteers are at-risk and should stay home, and work remotely if you can. But phones need to be answered if possible, and instructions given for how to connect if you are in need. An essential function of church life right now is communications: keep talking to your people through phone trees, Zoom gatherings, your website, and good old-fashioned mail. Update your signage, so that people who come to your property know how to get in touch with a human being.

FOR THOSE WHO GET SICK

It appears to me, from what I have read, that even with all these precautions, it is likely that many of us will end up acquiring COVID-19. There is no shame in doing so. Seek help, according to the recommendations of the CDC and others, and let your clergy know so that they can be helpful in making sure you receive the care you need, and have access to the supplies you need.

Canon Nicole Krug, our Diocesan Disaster Coordinator, is developing a protocol for congregations who have members with COVID-19 and are concerned that the disease may have spread within the congregations.

FINANCE

Cancelling public worship is going to have economic effects for our congregations and our diocese. As the beginning of a plan, we have three guidelines:

• I am asking all congregations to continue to pay all of their staff, even staff who may not be working because of the suspension of worship.

• I am asking all church members to maintain their pledges, as they are able.

• I am in the process of asking the Standing Committee to approve a Diocesan Relief Fund to assist congregations in maintaining their payroll, insurance payments, etc. if necessary.

WHAT WILL THE DIOCESE BE DOING?

Right now, I envision the Diocesan Office as a clearing house for questions, and a source of connection for congregations in need. Some staff members will work remotely; others will come in to the office.

We have set up a resource page on our website to include links for prayer, reliable information about COVID-19, and support for clergy and lay mental health.

BUT WHAT ABOUT EASTER?

The word "quarantine" comes from quaresima, the Italian word for Lent. Ships were "quarantined" for 40 days in port before they were able to dock and unload people and supplies. So of all seasons of the year to be experiencing quarantines, this is very appropriate. Just as Lent ends with Easter, so this season of quarantine will end with renewed faith in our Risen Lord-though it will likely not happen by April 12, 2020. Over the next few weeks, as the situation develops, we will discern what the right way to observe calendar Easter is; and what the right way to observe our eventual return to congregational life, proclaiming "Alleluia" with shouts of joy. That day will be an Easter Day indeed, celebrating the restoration of new life, having passed through the valley of the shadow of death.

I will be in contact with you as things change and develop; know that you are in my prayers: congregations, clergy, laypeople, and all those whom you serve.

May God's peace be with you in the coming days.

 

Yours in Christ,

+Jennifer

The Rt. Rev. Jennifer A. Reddall

Sixth Bishop of Arizona

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