Saturday, March 14, 2020


Episcopal churches are now faced with the dilemma of whether to close for the duration of the coronavirus epidemic. Various dioceses and many local churches have announced shut downs for the next few weeks. The bishop of Alabama has closed all churches in this diocese for at least the next three weeks. There are to be no public services here. The dioceses of Washington (DC) and Virginia have also closed churches for the next several weeks. Several rectors around the country have tested positive. Find the latest from the national church here . This contains a list of responses to the health crisis by diocese.

Regarding lower South Carolina, as of this morning, three churches (East Cooper in Mt. Pleasant, St. Francis in West Ashley, and St. Mark's in Charleston) have closed in the Episcopal Diocese while the others apparently remain open. Find the information of the EDSC here . One should keep checking this webpage for information on what is going on in the Episcopal diocese of SC in regards to church responses to the epidemic. As of this moment, there has been no notice posted on the Anglican diocesan website about church closures.

Speaking for myself and no one else, I think it is wise for churches to act on the side of caution for several reasons. One is that the Episcopal church has a high percentage of attendees over the age of 60. The CDC has declared this group "at risk" for the virus. Secondly, the coronavirus is highly contagious and spreads easily by coughing and sneezing. It can remain alive for days on surfaces touched by infected persons. Moreover, an infected person may not know he or she is infected for two weeks. Meanwhile he or she is spreading the virus to numerous other people who would then be giving it, unknowingly, to numerous other people, and so on. It multiples quickly. Too, anyone with immune compromising underlying health issues is "at risk" from this virus. The death rate of coronavirus is ten times higher than that of the ordinary flu. 

At the same time we should be taking common sense preparations of protection, we should not panic or grow hysterical. There are signs this may be happening in some places. If you have been to the grocery store recently, you would probably not have been able to find certain items. My family in Bay Saint Louis reported yesterday that people there have stripped the aisles of all the stores. The panic there is worse than for a looming hurricane. As for me and my family, we are planning on a 30 day isolation except for absolutely essential outside travel. We have non-perishable food items on hand. We also have our phones and our computers.

This epidemic will eventually pass, but we are in a few hard weeks. The best thing to do is keep the faith. Do not panic. Be prepared. Keep checking with the NIH and CDC websites for the latest information on the epidemic. And, keep checking on the church websites regarding church policies and procedures. Finally, do not forget others. Keep checking on family, neighbors, and friends. Let's do what we can to help others, especially the elderly and other vulnerable people. We have a lot of social media to do that. Now is the time to use it. Peace.