We are here to support you in navigating this COVID-19 pandemic by providing compassionate care for the physical, mental, and spiritual health of your parish, family, friends, and wider community during this uncertain time. This page will be updated continuously, so please check back for updates.
Join Bishop Wright every Wednesday for a new video in a 5-part series that takes a deeper dive into what these movements look and feel like as a people of faith.
Stories of Hope & Helping is ongoing series looking at how our parishes, ministries and fellow Episcopalians are caring for others during this time of pandemic.
For People with Bishop Rob Wright
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Songs of Encouragement
Listen to Bishop Wright’s hand-picked Spotify playlist to keep your spirits lifted throughout the week.
Our Response to the President Urging Houses of Worship Be Reopened
A COVID-19 task force of clergy, legal, financial and public health experts is studying the complex issues affecting our 117 worshiping communities, including parishes, schools, and direct service ministries in 75 1/2 counties in middle and north Georgia.
The Right Reverend Robert C. Wright, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta said Saturday that he will be guided by the task force’s recommendations and Christian imperatives as he decides when and how to reopen in person worship services and other church gatherings.
“Our chief directive is always the love of neighbor, which means sometimes we will have to exceed secular directives and pressures,” Bishop Wright stated.
In March, Bishop Wright directed all worship and meetings in the Diocese of Atlanta be moved online until at least May 24. Despite Georgia Governor Brian Kemp in April allowing churches to reopen, Bishop Wright maintained an online only policy and on May 7, directed that all meetings, worship, and pastoral care remain online or by other remote means until further notice and that the diocesan summer camp would be closed for 2020.
“While I realize that phrases like “until further notice” can and will trigger intense feelings of uncertainty and disorientation in some,” Bishop Wright wrote, “my prayer is that this time of uncertainty will produce new certainty about the gift of faith that we enjoy,” closing his announcement with a quotation from Galatians 6:9 – Do not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
With all Christian affection,
May 7, 2020
A Special Update from Bishop Wright
Beloved in Christ,
I hope this finds you trusting God. In March I directed that all meetings, pastoral care, and worship of the diocese be moved online until at least May 24th in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. After much consultation with our Presiding Bishop and a team of health care professionals from our diocese, I am now directing that all meetings, worship, and pastoral care remain online or by other remote means until further notice, effective today.
In addition, Mikell Leaders, in consultation and agreement with the Bishop and Bishop’s staff, have decided that the safest and best course of action is to cancel all summer programs at Camp Mikell for summer 2020. Please read the additional statement from Camp Mikell’s leadership here.
Like you, this prolonged absence from one another in worship and the disruption of much of our good work causes me feelings of loss and grief. Still, our loss and grief in this regard is a small price to pay to keep one another healthy and safe. More than that, increasingly and marvelously, individuals and congregations in the diocese are “…hewing out of this mountain of despair a stone of hope.” To them I say, thank you and well done.
As the weeks unfold, know that my team and I will continue to consult with a wide circle of advisers and health care professionals to determine when it is reasonably safe to begin to worship in person. We will continue to provide updates through our twice monthly zoom calls with clergy and wardens and more widely as circumstances evolve.
While I realize that phrases like “until further notice” can and will trigger intense feelings of uncertainty and disorientation in some, my prayer is that this time of uncertainty will produce new certainty about the gift of faith that we enjoy. “Do not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9
With all Christian affection,
April 22, 2020
An Uplifting Update for Worship Guidelines
Greetings Sisters and Brothers, I hope this finds you resolved to trust God.
I write to lift my last directive prohibiting live-streaming and recording of worship on our campuses and in our sanctuaries. Effective immediately, you may resume live streaming and recording of worship in and on church grounds as best suit your worshipping community. This, of course, assumes the continuation of no more than ten people in the building at any given time and strict physical distancing maintained at all times.
Worship guidelines have been updated to the COVID Situation Response Google Doc.
In due course and only when I am advised by health and safety professionals that it is reasonably safe, will I offer the possibility of in-person worship for our Diocese. Until then let us bring imagination to how we care for one another, new power to our proclamation of God’s good news, and new effectiveness to how we support those who are oppressed by fear and lack.
In all this let us remember our perennial chief directive, “to love God and to love neighbor.”
With all Christian affection,
April 21, 2020
Positivity in Perplexity
Hello all, the bible says that “we are perplexed but not in despair.”
Indeed we are not in despair because our hope is in the Almighty-ness of God, the Cross of Jesus, the power of the Holy Spirit and the gift of fellowship with one another. These are our aids as we live out our calling in these perplexing pandemic times. So get waist deep in this hope, read your bible, say your prayers, talk things over with some smart folks and have a good laugh, God is still God.
With all Christian affection,
April 15, 2020
From Bishop Wright on the Season of Easter
Christ is Risen! Hello Brothers and Sisters, I hope you are well. Thank you all for the incredible effort and care that went into leading worship throughout Holy Week and Easter Sunday.
Now we move into a phase of leadership that calls us to virtually assemble groups of parish leaders to think about how we go forward. That will involve, of course, continued sharing of the responsibility of the life of the parish. It will necessarily also involve great pastoral sensitivity asking our members to join us in giving sacrificially to offset the financial effects of COVID-19 on our work.
In all of the work that is still left for us to do and reimagine, I am sustained by St. Paul’s encouragement by way of distinction, “ …we are afflicted but not crushed; perplexed but not in despair, persecuted but not forsaken….” I continue to give God thanks for our common faith in Jesus resurrected.
Grace and power,
April 2, 2020
From Bishop Wright on Shelter in Place Directive
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Brothers and Sisters,
In response to the most recent directive of Governor Kemp calling for a statewide shelter in place beginning Friday, April 3rd and lasting until April 13th, I am hereby directing all members of The Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta to comply, effective immediately. This specifically includes no longer assembling to record or live stream worship from a church sanctuary or campus. All worship should now be offered by individuals from home.
Now is the time for us as clergy and lay worship leaders to join fully with our congregations in this imposed fasting from our houses of worship. While some may want to claim religious exemption to the stay at home order, I nevertheless see this as an opportunity for us to partner with our Governor and the heroic health care community of our state to defeat the COVID-19 virus. I respectfully ask for your partnership in this leadership effort.
God bless you,
March 26, 2020
Covid-19 Response Guidelines
I hope this finds you encouraged by the Spirit. What follows is an attempt at providing additional clarity about worship and especially the Eucharist as we continue to worship online.
First, let me say that I expect the obvious, that the Eucharistic theology of the Book of Common Prayer remains central to all that we imagine. Second, that we bring sensitivity to the fact that the Diocese of Atlanta is a diocese consisting of 117 worshipping communities in 75 1/2 counties. And that under our big tent even prior to COVID-19, we held wildly diverse understandings of what it means to convene the faithful for the Lord’s Supper.
Nevertheless, our present reality is unprecedented in the world and in the church. Therefore, it is incumbent on us who have been given the privilege of convening worship to hold fast to our tradition while simultaneously accounting for the exigencies of the times. This is no easy task and yet, according to the BCP pg. 9, it is the good and deep work of what it means to be an Anglican.
So let me share a menu of ways many of us are already responding. (This list is not exhaustive.)
God bless you,
March 24, 2020
Update on COVID-19:
Two weeks ago we moved all worship and meetings in the Diocese of Atlanta online until further notice. Regrettably, now given the rapidly increasing amount of cases of Covid-19 in the state of Georgia and given the average age of our membership, it’s clear we should continue to worship and meet online until May 24.
This of course includes Holy Week, Clergy Renewal of Vows, and Easter. We establish this timeline with the full support of our Presiding Bishop.
Between now and May 24, we will be monitoring the situation regularly and updating the diocese as necessary relying on the expertise and experience of a diverse council of advice.
To be sure, there are a host of practical considerations and questions that are emerging as we adapt to this challenge. Know that my staff and I are preparing a list of resources, supports and initiatives to be sent out before the end of this week to assist you as you do the work of the church.
Finally, as I have said in other places, I continue to be proud of and inspired by so many of you. This is not the Lent that we wanted, but this is the Lent we have. And though God did not cause this virus, God and God’s church can use this virus!
So many are adapting to this extraordinary season of disruption and challenge with collegiality and imagination, with generosity and with grit. And I sincerely thank you! Also, I urge you not to simply endure these present circumstances, but to lean in.
Be on high alert for how this virus can help us more deeply live into being partners with Jesus Christ for the world. Know that I am right beside you in this and the Spirit is beside us all.
Now is a great time to remember that we as the followers of Jesus are “salt and light.” So let us season these times with a mature and public faith in God. And let us illuminate God’s trustworthiness even as we face a forest of daily question marks.
The church is not closed, she is adapting!
God bless you. Be encouraged.
Clergy, continue to be free to open churches to any recognized 12-step programs that still wish to gather. 12-step programs are life-saving and, wherever it is safely possible, they should be allowed to continue. Leaders and participants of such programs must agree to abide by the current health and safety practices that have been issued to the general public.
Also, if funerals have already been scheduled and cannot be postponed, they must be celebrated adhering to the current restrictions on attendance and physical distance. However, no new funerals or memorial services should be planned for this period.
March 16, 2020
Update on COVID-19: Finding New Ways to Foster Connection
Allow me to say how proud I am of the Diocese of Atlanta! So many of you are bringing imagination, compassion and good cheer to this pandemic. I was heartened to see the variety of online worship and prayer opportunities that are already being offered across our Diocese.
Still, after much consultation and prayer, and in light of the most recent update from the CDC, I have decided to direct every congregation to move all worship and meetings online effective immediately and until further notice. Now is the time for us to use the gift of our tradition along side of new ways to practice being the body of Christ and to deepen our connections with one another and with the wider world.
To that end, links to resources for individual and family devotions can be found here on this page.
In all of this, I encourage you to be on high alert for the Spirit’s blessings in this disruption! The church cannot be cancelled, the church can only adapt! Press on, take care of one another, take care of yourself, God Is Trustworthy! “These present afflictions are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is being revealed in us.” – Romans 8:18
March 15, 2020
What you can do rather than go to Church this morning!
1. Have worship at home with your family.
2. Take a walk and think about God’s goodness to you.
3. Make a list of folks who could use a kind and encouraging word and call or text them.
4. Call someone you struggle to love and just say, “I was just thinking about you.”
5. Start reading the bible.
6. Make an online donation to an organization that is doing important work.
7. Commit to pray for those in the health care space for the rest of this pandemic.
8. Turn off the TV, turn on the music that touches your soul.
9. Commit to using all of your social media to post positive, edifying posts.
10. Go to the store for someone.
11. What would you add to this list…
You see Church can’t actually be cancelled, it can only adapt.
God bless you, wash your hands!
March 13, 2020
Prudent, Not Panicked
Things continue to develop rapidly. Since my last communication, there are 42 cases of COVID-19 in 14 Counties in Georgia and 1 person has died. Many schools, colleges and universities have moved learning online or cancelled classes all together. And many congregations in the diocese have cancelled most if not all of their weekly programming. Our Presiding Bishop has given us his support to either cancel all worship services for the next two weeks or to practice extreme caution as we gather for worship. Because we are a large diocese with diverse contexts I am NOT at this time directing the diocese to cancel worship. Rather, I echo our Presiding Bishop’s approach for now. You have my absolute support if you make the difficult decision to cancel and you have my absolute support if in your context it makes sense to gather for worship adhering to the guidelines established by the CDC and my previous directive. Given the rate of change we have already experienced, it is likely that I will need to update this communication in the next few days. Still, we must not panic, but we must be prudent. God is still God and by the grace of God we will steady ourselves, take care of one another and continue on.
God bless you,
Georgia Department of Public Health COVID-19 updates
Faith tradition COVID-19 health guides: United Church of Christ, Union for Reform Judaism, The Episcopal Church, United Methodist Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Muslim Public Affairs Council
As developments around the coronavirus pandemic continue to unfold at a rapid rate, the Diocese of Atlanta is committed to doing all it can to help stem the spread of COVID-19 and support our churches as they find new ways to worship, pray, care, and comfort. We are compiling a number of resources for our clergy into this master document, and encourage you to check back frequently for updates. We will continue to add information as it comes to light, and thank each and everyone of you for such inspiring creativity and dedication as we all pivot to meet the needs of our community. During this uncertain and ever-evolving crisis, we are all in this together.
Resource from Columbia Theological Seminary: What We Need Is Here: Practicing Resurrection in a Season of Social Distance
Article on caring for yourself by Greg DeLoach is Interim Dean at McAfee School of Theology of Mercer University and Director of Development at McAfee School of Theology and College of Professional Advancement.
Clergy and Spiritual Communal Leaders Group: Rabbi Joshua Lesser has created a FB Group for clergy and spiritual communal leaders to share resources, responses, and decision making frameworks around COVID-19 related issues. It’s also a multifaith space for mutual support in this changing landscape. The group is Clergy and Spiritual Communal Responses to Covid-19. It is a private group. To receive an invite, contact Don Plummer, firstname.lastname@example.org.