Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As I near the end of my time as your Bishop, you are all very much on my heart and mind. While technically I am on sabbatical for the month of January, I find myself busily trying to tie up loose ends before I officially step down on February 1st.
One of those loose ends is to bring you up to date on the recent dean appointments in five of the eight deaneries of the Diocese. Some of these have already been reported, but for the sake of those who may not have heard, they include the following:
- The Very Rev. Sonya Boyce — St. Lawrence Deanery
- The Very Rev. David Ousley – Northern Adirondack Deanery
- The Very Rev. Jean DeVaty – Southern Adirondack Deanery
- The Very Rev. Brad Jones – Metropolitan Deanery
- The Very Rev. Tom Malionek – Hudson Deanery
I want to thank each of the new deans for their willingness to serve their deaneries and the Diocese in this new capacity at this time. I also want to say a special thank you to each of the outgoing deans for their faithful service over the last several years: Fr. Ed LaCombe, Mtr. Patricia Beauharnois, Fr. David Beaulac, Fr. Nixon McMillan, and Fr. John Thompson. It has been an honor to serve with each of you. During the upcoming time of transition in the Diocese, each of the deans will be working closely with the Standing Committee to help minister to the clergy and people of the deaneries.
In other updates, I want thank all of you who have given so generously thus far in support of this year’s Friends of the King Appeal. We have currently raised $125,014 toward our $200,000 goal. All the money raised helps support the ministry of Christ the King Center. Whatever you are able to give is most appreciated and needed, especially during this time of limited income resulting from the COVID-19 Pandemic.
We live in very troubled times – times that none of us would ever have imagined just a year ago, and yet here we are. The COVID-19 Pandemic continues to wreak havoc with recent increases in new cases in many of our communities here in the Diocese as well as throughout the world. The approval and release of the new COVID Vaccine is a very positive development in the fight against this disease that has brought such heartache and devastation to so many people, to include many of us. While it will take time for the vaccine to be widely administered, we give thanks to God for these new developments.
In the meantime, I encourage each of us to remain vigilant in our personal and corporate efforts to protect ourselves and our loved ones by following appropriate sanitation and social distancing guidelines in our day to day lives as well as when we come together at Church. The Diocesan COVID-19 Guidelines put in place have proven to be very effective and need to continue to be followed. To the best of my knowledge, no one has contracted COVID while attending worship services here in the Diocese of Albany. While it is my hope and prayer that each of our parishes can remain open offering in-person worship services for those who are able to come, I understand that for various reasons, many of our parishioners do not yet feel comfortable returning to Church. It is important that each of you do what you believe is best for your particular situation or circumstances. A regular weekly Holy Communion service continues to be offered virtually by the Diocese and many of the parishes for those who are not able to attend Church in person.
As mentioned above, it is my hope and prayer that each of our parishes will be able to remain open for public worship services, but if the clergy and Vestry of a parish decides it needs to suspend in-person services temporarily during spikes of COVID cases in their local communities, they have the authority to do so. If that option is taken, I encourage the parish leadership to resume public services as soon as possible. Extended or repeated closures can be devastating to a parish. May the Lord guide and lead you as you discern how best to remain faithful to Him and exercise the various ministries entrusted to you, in such a way that honors and glorifies God and blesses His people. In Proverbs 3:5-6 we are told: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”
Moving now to other concerns, to say that the current racial, social and political unrest in our country is troubling, would be the understatement of the year. Like many of you, my heart is breaking over the growing tension and division within the United States — such that hasn’t been seen since the American Civil War. We all know the pain and devastation that caused. For the sake of this country and the world, the United States cannot afford to go down that path again. No doubt there is plenty of blame on both sides of the political aisle (Democrat and Republican / liberal and conservative), that has contributed to the growing nightmare we find ourselves in. Physical violence and destruction of property is not the answer, nor is silencing the voice of those you don’t agree with.
It is essential that we come together as a “united” people regardless of political persuasions, to work to bring peace and order back to our communities and country. “We the People” and our local, state and national leaders must work together for the common good of “ALL” and not simply that of any given person or political party.
This nation was founded on Judeo-Christian values and beliefs. Many would argue that in recent years, we have lost our way and are drifting farther and farther away from that which has made this country great – God. If we are to turn this nation around and prevent further devastation among the people of this country, we must turn back to God. We cannot do it on our own. In II Chronicles 7:14, God said, “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, we all need to fall on our knees in prayer, confessing that which we have done individually and as a community, state and nation to contribute to the division and brokenness within our country and the world. We need to ask for God’s forgiveness and guidance in knowing how best to navigate these very dangerous and trying times, in order that we might help bring peace rather than further division. The Lord is calling us (the Church – the Body of Christ) to be in the world, but not of the world; to be a reflection of His light during these dark times; to be a channel of His love and mercy and healing grace in this broken and hurting world in which we live.
I invite and encourage each of us to be intentional about praying for our nation and local communities on a daily basis. While extemporaneous heartfelt prayers are always appropriate and loved by the Lord, if you are looking for some help or guidance, there are a number of wonderful prayers in the Book of Common Prayer that speak to all that is going on right now in our nation and the world. A list of prayers can be found beginning on page 810 of the BCP. I would like to conclude with the following prayer for our nation:
Almighty God, who hast given us this good land for our heritage: We humbly beseech thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of thy favor and glad to do they will. Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into on united people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in thy Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be a justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to thy law, we may show forth they praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in thee to fail; all which we ask through the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Amen! (BCP 820)
Faithfully Your Brother in Christ
Rt. Rev. William H. Love
Bishop of Albany