HASTY, BUT HEARTFELT
Dear Friends of MCC,
A few words of explanation regarding our statement earlier this week urging churches to return to virtual worship space during the current surge…
I’m guessing I’m not the only one of us who, when confronted with the pain of another, reacted quickly in an immediate attempt to ease their suffering. That’s what happened this past Monday when I received a number of pleas from health care workers and patients around the state asking MCC to take action and call on Maine’s faith communities to help stem the rising tide of COVID cases overwhelming our health care system. And then, as I told the MCC Board afterward, I let my pastor’s heart drive the bus when my Executive Director brain should have been behind the wheel!
Nuance, consultation and collaboration went out the window—and I’m truly sorry for the ways in which that created confusion, tension or even conflict for clergy, congregations and judicatories.
But here’s some glorious good news: in the past 48 hours, our phone line and email inbox have been flooded with emotional messages (often accompanied by tears) from grateful health care workers thanking Maine’s faith communities for recognizing their plight, feeling their pain, and doing what we can to help.
And…we’ve also received calls and email from clergy and lay leaders letting us know that, even if they’ve decided returning to virtual worship services isn’t the right solution for their particular context, they are doing AMAZING work to keep their congregations and communities safe and to let our frontline health care staff know how much we care about supporting them in their heroic efforts. Here are a few examples:
- The UU Church in Brunswick and Temple Beth El in Portland have adopted a policy requiring anyone who attends in-person services to be fully vaccinated (those who are unvaccinated are welcome to join worship via a live-stream)
- Bishop Thomas Brown continues his ground-breaking and innovative work with the COVID advisory group he established—it includes clergy, medical professionals and lay leaders who provide science-based, data-driven guidance to Episcopal congregations
- Rev. Kerry Mansir offers her congregation in Gardiner three COVID-safe options each Sunday—masked indoors, distanced outdoors, and live-streamed—and is planning for a special Sunday dedicated to honoring and thanking healthcare workers. She’ll be reaching out to the local hospital to let them know and invite them to join either in person or online that Sunday
- Numerous clergy across the state checked in to say they’d be using our statement as a point of entry for conversation with their congregation’s lay leadership about how best to update safety policies and express support for healthcare workers
- In the first 24-hours after our statement was released, eleven more churches used the link to get a pop-up vaccine clinic application for their communities!
We know there are so many more of you out there—and we say three cheers to you all!
Thank you for all you do and thank you for your support—and forgiveness (!)—during these difficult days.