Each week, Bishop DeDe Duncan-Probe is offering a video message to update you on how the Diocese of Central New York is ministering in the midst of multiple crises. This week, Bishop DeDe Duncan-Probe announces that her pastoral visitations to congregations will take place virtually until at least June 1, 2021.
She also shares how the Diocese will care for and walk with people who are awaiting the sacrament of Confirmation or Reception into The Episcopal Church this year. These sacramental rites are one of a bishop’s pastoral responsibilities and require her to lay hands on the candidates; they cannot take place virtually. Therefore, in the year ahead, Bishop DeDe will be offering special formation opportunities for those awaiting Confirmation and Reception, beginning with an online diocese-wide service of blessing at our 152nd Convention in November.
Each of the bishop’s weekly messages will be posted on the diocesan Facebook page and on the homepage of the diocesan website (scroll down to News & Updates). We will also distribute the message by direct email to clergy, wardens, and parish offices, and include it in the Messenger, our weekly email newsletter.
Greetings, friends. I don’t know about you, but I am finding this time to be frustrating and very challenging. It’s frustrating because I’m unable to do the things I love to do. One of my most cherished parts of being a bishop is getting up on a Sunday morning, driving to your parish, and having an opportunity to worship with you and hear about your faith and to encourage you as you continue your own journey as a community. It is hard in this time, to not be able to do what we love to do. And to look at the things we can do and somehow see them as lesser.
But I encourage all of us to find life and grace and hope and peace as we are. God is here. God is present in this time. And all will be well. God is greater than the challenges before us.
This year I have made a decision that I will not be making in-person pastoral care visits until June of 2021. Please know this was a very difficult decision because I am missing you. I am missing our time together in person. However, I know that if I come to be with you in person it could put someone at risk. And as we see numbers spiking in other states, and as we still do not have a vaccine or fully know how this disease can be contained, it is safest to refrain from in-person visitations at this time.
What I am going to do is make sure that I have an opportunity to visit with all of those churches who are on the rotation at this time for me to visit. So I will be coming to visit you virtually. If your parish does not have a virtual service, I will offer you the ability to tune in as you did on June 7th, or for us to worship by phone and have a phone-call worship service and conversation. No, it is not the same. And I long for in-person worship and mourn this time apart as much as anyone. But this is the best way, and this is how I can love you as the people of this Diocese: to protect you and to encourage you in the way that is my role and my responsibility.
In addition, for those who are going to be Confirmed or want to be Received into The Episcopal Church this year, we’re going to do something new. At Convention in November, during our online worship service, we’ll have a special time of blessing for those awaiting Confirmation or Reception. Then, next year, three times, I will gather online with those who are going to be confirmed or received. We’ll have conversation together, learn together, and grow deeper in our faith. It will be a bit of a “catechumenate year,” something that is part of our heritage and something that calls us to deeper faith.
Being confirmed, received, or renewed are not temporary things or short-term commitments. So we will take the year to honor those lifelong commitments. Then at Convention 2021, hopefully, I pray, in-person, we will have a joyous celebration and confirmation, reception, and reaffirmation of faith.
In this time, know that you are loved. Be safe. Be informed. And love one another. Reach out and be connected with those you love. And take time to nurture your own faith.
Blessings be with you,
The Rt. Rev. Dr. DeDe Duncan-Probe
Bishop of Central New York