Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
Grace and Peace to you in the name of our Risen Lord! I pray that you are all well and maintaining safety given our current environment.
Many of you have inquired about the opening of our churches given the recent statements by our Governor. While I appreciate the Governor’s desire to open our communities and economy quickly, the current trajectory of the pandemic in Oklahoma, in my opinion and that of others, does not meet the standards for a phased re-opening as provided by the CDC and our President.
As such, following consultation with state and municipal officials, as well as health care authorities, I am extending the closure of all churches until at least May 15th. As we approach that date, we will re-evaluate the status of the pandemic considering the most reliable public health information available and either extend the closure or begin the process of re-opening our churches.
In the meantime, I have invited several persons to work with me and Bishop Elect Poulson to prepare guidelines about how we will re-open once the decision is made. Not every church is the same and must adjust how we will continue to maintain social distancing, be diligent in sanitizing spaces, and most importantly protect the most vulnerable among us.
Please know that it is my deepest desire to open our churches as soon as we can and as safely as we can. However, I will not move it that direction until there is clear evidence that the Covid 19 Virus is on a downward trajectory as it relates to new positive cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.
We are at a critical time in our response to this virus. Though our leaders at the local, state, and federal levels are wrestling with various pressures and circumstances, we must pay attention to our health care authorities who are clearly saying that maintaining our current efforts is the best way to eradicate this virus.
I encourage all who are able, to continue to provide virtual worship, formation, pastoral care, and fellowship opportunities. You have all been doing an amazing job!
Please continue to pray for our congregations, our state, our leaders, and I ask especially for your prayers personally. May God see us all through this time!