A local United Methodist bishop is mandating the cancellation of worship services and meetings in United Methodist churches under her supervision for at least two weeks, effective immediately.
Bishop Mary Virginia “Dindy” Taylor is resident bishop of Holston Conference, which includes 864 churches in East Tennessee, Southwest Virginia, and North Georgia. Her office is in Alcoa, Tn.
“The decision was prayerfully made to cancel worship services across the three states that make up Holston Conference,” Ms.
Taylor said. “The decision is unanimous and mandatory for at least two weeks.”
Ms. Taylor said she made the decision with the support of her district superintendents, “out of an abundance of caution and our concern for you, our churches, and communities.”
A March 12 letter from Ms. Taylor to clergy and church leaders throughout the region cited medical advice to implement “social distancing” in faith communities to slow the transmission of COVID-19, declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization.
“We have learned from the spread of the virus that if we delay responding the virus spreads exponentially and overwhelms our hospitals and health care systems. It is my understanding that social distancing is the most effective way of slowing the spread of the virus,” Ms. Taylor said.
“This is an opportunity for creative ministry. How can we care for our neighbors?” Ms. Taylor said in a letter to Holston congregations. “Be aware of the needs of the people around you and how you can offer Christ during a challenging pandemic.”