Dear People of God:
Following discussions this day with several diocesan clergy and others I am directing all Episcopal Churches in the Diocese of Oregon, beginning on March 22, to discontinue all public Sunday services for the remainder of the month.
I also ask that you take other measures you deem necessary to safeguard the people in the church, keeping in mind the request to practice social distancing. This may include closing the church during the week as well and canceling midweek services.
As I continue to monitor the situation with the COVID-19 virus, watching for signals from national, state, and local officials and listening carefully to my sister and brother bishops in neighboring dioceses, it has become apparent to me that we must do all in our power to slow the progress of the spread of this virus. It is in that spirit that I make this directive.
Many congregations here in Oregon and across the country are already making the decision to close for a limited period of time and I invite you to consider this a Lenten fast from the practice of regular Sunday attendance at worship. I hope that you will watch for news from your local congregation about ways the leadership is working to keep us in touch with each other during this period of time.
As these weeks unfold we will see if this directive needs to be extended for additional time. We are a resurrection people and Easter is coming. Let us continue to walk the way of the cross, the way of Jesus, and to pray for the safety of those most vulnerable.
You remain in my prayers,
Bishop Michael Hanley
Episcopal Diocese of Oregon