Pastoral Letter

Bishop’s (Updated) Pastoral Letter

November 24, 2020

Dear Clergy and Parishioners of the Diocese of Tennessee,

“But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation” (1 Thess. 5:8).

St. Paul’s words in First Thessalonians speak to members of the church in the period between Jesus’ ascension into heaven and his coming again in glory. In this meantime, Paul reminds his listeners that they are to stay awake and to be alert; to practice good works and care for others; to cultivate the virtues of faith, hope, and love toward God. They should not be caught by surprise when Christ comes, but be prepared to greet him.

We too live in that time of waiting. The season of Advent that begins on Sunday underscores this reality. We should be watchful, and be prepared, as we wait for Christ’s coming again.

In the same way, the last year has been a time of spiritual testing for our diocese. We have been travelling on a “Wilderness Road” like the one depicted in the eighth chapter of the Book of Acts. This journey began with the start of the pandemic, but has no fixed date of completion. This uncertain time has allowed us to develop our own spiritual practices, rooted in the same disciplines required during Advent: expectancy, alertness, and watchfulness.

As our churches and parishioners have practiced “The Wilderness Road: Acts 8,” in this time of pandemic, we have discovered new ways to engage our mission and ministry. I am grateful to all of you for your hard work. The prudent measures that we have put in place in order to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus have not stopped us from answering the call of God, or even from discovering new calls. We have also been able, in many contexts since May, to find prudent ways forward for public, in person worship. The combined protocols of physical distancing, consistent masking, and hand washing, have been a blessing in preventing infection.

As the rate of infection from the Coronavirus increases throughout our state, and across our nation, this is a time for additional watchfulness and alertness on the part of our members. We must be on our guard. This is not a time to relax the protocols that have served us well. I ask you to continue to pay attention to the public health measures outlined in “The Wilderness Road: Acts 8.” In this coming season, I ask you to continue to be alert; to be mindful and careful of others; above all, to practice faith, hope, and love.

You all are in my prayers. Your ministries are an encouragement to me. I rejoice in being on this “Wilderness Road” with you.

  • The Rt Rev’d John Bauerschmidt, Bishop of Tennessee

Check here for a refresher on the recommended protocols of “The Wilderness Road: Acts 8.”