As the Episcopal Bishops of the State of Michigan and as a people of faith, we follow the commandment Jesus gave us – to “love our neighbors as ourselves.” Loving our neighbors these days in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, means setting limits: quarantining, refraining from traveling, physical distancing when in public, and closing down places of gathering where transmission is likely. This is how we love our neighbors – by working to slow the spread of this extremely contagious, life-threatening virus.
In March, we issued a directive to close all 203 Episcopal Churches in our state despite the religious exemption offered by the governor. We believe it’s our duty as bishops and as citizens to relinquish our right to gather together in-person during this most Holy Season. We know that coming together, even for the best of reasons, can spread this disease.
Furthermore, this pandemic has exposed injustices already present in our society -racism, hunger, healthcare, a living wage, housing insecurity, and access to education. As a people of faith who believe in the power of resurrection and new life, we are committed to naming and addressing these injustices so that the kingdom of God may come nearer.
We support Governor Whitmer’s current directives and urge her to continue to protect the people of Michigan by listening to the recommendations of healthcare providers and scientists, upholding her oath of office by following the constitution of our country and state, and grounding herself in compassion and care for her people. Our state should reopen only when we have the proper safeguards in place – control of infection rates, available virus testing and tracing, increased healthcare capacity, and a plan for how to implement changes as we return to the new normal. And, when the pandemic is behind us, we urge our political leaders to consider how the injustices exposed in this crisis might be addressed – how together we might stop hunger, end poverty, eliminate racism, and the violence that plagues our world.
The Rt. Rev. Dr. Bonnie A. Perry,
Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Michigan
The Rt. Rev Whayne M. Hougland, Jr.,
Bishop, Episcopal Dioceses of Eastern & Western Michigan
The Rt. Rev. Rayford Ray,
Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan