Bishop Bonnie Perry

Michigan Episcopal Bishop: No Virtual Services from Churches

on March 27, 2020

The Episcopal bishop of Michigan issued a directive Tuesday closing all churches in the Detroit-based diocese, including the broadcast of virtual services from most church properties.

As recently as Sunday many parishes had transitioned to broadcast services with mobile technologies.

The new directive from Bishop Bonnie Perry ends such services.

Perry, a former Roman Catholic and partnered lesbian consecrated as bishop in February, cited a “stay-at-home” decree from Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer as her basis for issuing the directive to parishes.

However, Whitmer’s decree — based upon wartime-era laws — explicitly allows churches to continue holding services, the Detroit Free Press reported.

“All virtual liturgies, which many of our congregation have so wonderfully offered over the past weeks, are no longer allowed on church property,” Perry wrote in the directive. “More clearly stated, this means that access to church property for the videotaping, live-streaming, or audio recording of worship services, bible study, musical programs, etc., is temporarily suspended.”

Whitmer had originally prohibited religious services in a decree issued last week, but exempted congregations after pressure from the Republican-controlled state Legislature. The exemption was carried over when the stay-at-home decree was issued Monday.

“This directive from the bishop is disingenuous as the state order is explicit in exempting churches and other religious houses of worship,” said Dennis Lennox, a Detroit-area Episcopalian who has previously served at the diocesan convention. “Under this order, the Episcopal presiding bishop, Washington National Cathedral and countless other parishes and worshipping communities, both within the diocese and across the country, would be banned from holding the increasingly popular virtual worship services.”

“People have a God-given right to assemble and worship,” said Lee Chatfield, speaker of the state House of Representatives and the son of a Baptist minister, after Whitmer issued the original exemption last week.

Other denominations in Michigan continue to allow church services to be broadcast. This includes Roman Catholic services led by Archbishop of Detroit Allen Vigneron.

The Episcopal Diocese of Michigan includes most of southeastern Michigan from the state capital of Lansing to Detroit and south to the Ohio border.

Perry became the top diocesan official following a decade of decline within the Episcopal Church, both nationally and in the diocese. In 2018, the latest year statistics are available, diocesan membership declined 5.8 percent, according to church data.

  1. Comment by Jim on March 27, 2020 at 12:57 pm

    An abomination in Michigan

  2. Comment by mark nils on March 27, 2020 at 6:14 pm

    Well, maybe the Episcopalians in this diocese can find an Anglican Church that is doing a virtual church service. We’ve come down a long way from when martyrs would risk execution just to worship.

  3. Comment by Geary on March 27, 2020 at 6:35 pm

    Geez, both of the people who tuned in last weekend will have to find another way to worship! I suggest, ACNA!

  4. Comment by Tom on March 27, 2020 at 9:26 pm

    Considering what the Episcopal “church” “teaches” these days, this is probably a positive development.

  5. Comment by David on March 28, 2020 at 12:15 pm

    It is shocking how politicized the current epidemic has become with liberals urging caution and conservative minimizing the impact. America has always had a strong anti intellectualism streak with science and those that spend their lives studying things being denigrated. Perhaps we will see a Darwinian natural selection with the wise surviving and the others falling victim to their ignorance.

  6. Comment by Judith Foster on March 29, 2020 at 1:59 pm

    Is that what you’re hoping David?

  7. Comment by Timothy on March 30, 2020 at 2:22 am

    David; do you realize, or understand, this is a Christian site? Go away you leftist troll.

  8. Comment by Jeffrey Walton on March 30, 2020 at 10:31 am

    He appears to be one of the frequent commenters on this blog. So there is something here that he finds of value. Regardless, everyone is welcome to comment here provided they follow the rules of the road and do not engage in personal attacks.

  9. Comment by David on March 31, 2020 at 3:32 pm

    The article is not about coronavirus precautions. Do you really think this article would have appeared at all if the bishop was not a member of a disfavored group? Too often what appears here is merely personal attacks against non conservatives and often they are frankly strange and non representative of any group. Have you ever wondered why the Roman Catholic Church is rarely mentioned here? Look up the history of the IRD and you will see why.

  10. Comment by Sam on March 30, 2020 at 9:04 am

    The best example of the denial of science is belief in Neo-Darwinian macro-evolution.

  11. Comment by Pat on March 28, 2020 at 1:52 pm

    Doesn’t say anything about doing services off church property. Clergy need to get creative. I think she is misguided in this but this does NOT stop anything. Clergy get your phones out at home!

  12. Comment by George Brown on March 28, 2020 at 2:03 pm

    Like other denominations, the Episcopal Church has few “problems” that are not the direct result of essentially reducing the word of God to powerless religious icon. In doing this its BLESSINGS no longer apply, leaving only its JUDGEMENTS. We already see those judgements being applied and worked out in the “church.” The scripture says “,,,judgement must begin from the house of God.” Whether or not the entirety of the denomination is actually IN that house is obviously debatable. I mean, we’re reading here about one called a “bishop” but openly living out what scripture identifies as an “abomination” to the God claimed to be being served. I don’t think so….

  13. Comment by George Brown on March 28, 2020 at 2:11 pm

    …additionally it might be noted that the BLESSINGS offered in scripture are CONDITIONAL and the CURSES are essentially the absence of them. For those with “eyes to see” and “ears to hear” its obvious. The cynical unbelieving spiritually “dead” can’t see or hear and despise those who can. Very sad to witness, but that’s the history of mankind and “the church.”

  14. Comment by David on March 28, 2020 at 6:05 pm

    “This denial of science and critical thinking among religious ultraconservatives now haunts the American response to the coronavirus crisis. On March 15, Guillermo Maldonado, who calls himself an “apostle” and hosted Mr. Trump earlier this year at a campaign event at his Miami megachurch, urged his congregants to show up for worship services in person. “Do you believe God would bring his people to his house to be contagious with the virus? Of course not,” he said.” —Paul Krugman

  15. Comment by td on March 28, 2020 at 9:02 pm

    I imagine she is also preventing her clergy from ministering to the sick. Because they might get sick themselves. It is kind of like prohibiting soldiers from going into battle because they might get killed themselves. Clergy need to be on the front lines of this- any church that doesn’t realize this has lost all notions of their mission.

  16. Comment by td on March 28, 2020 at 9:04 pm

    Obviously the bishop does not consider people’s spiritual health to be essential.

  17. Comment by Diane on March 28, 2020 at 11:06 pm

    I suspect the bishop wants all – including clergy – to stay home and stay virus-free. When I was a small child and the weather prevented us from going to church, my siblings and I had church in our homes. We sang, we collected an offering, we prayed. God is with us wherever we find ourselves. We don’t need virtual services to worship. There were no virtual worship services years ago and people managed to worship. The bishop’s directive calls us to be faithful unto a God. Church attendance or virtual worship is not a pre-requisite.

  18. Comment by Diane on March 28, 2020 at 11:31 pm

    Just one more comment about being church. I live in a rural community in the southeast United States. We’ve had 4 people test positive for the corona virus and are now in quarantine. Per privacy laws, their identities are now revealed in the news. I happen to know two of the four – a lesbian couple who just got back from a cruise. Those of us in the lgbtq and allies community – none of us active in any church, though most identify as Christian – have been caring for this couple. We’ve grocery-shopped for them and left the groceries on their doorstep and have made to sure to offer companionship and assistance by daily phone calls. Not one member of any church has lifted a finger to help. Of course, church folk stay in a church loop and never leave the comfort of that circle to get to know those whom Jesus called neighbor (the Samaritan, the one who is different, the one kept at arm’s reach) – so churchfolk don’t know this couple who’re suffering.

    If you want to be the church, stop demonizing the bishop, get off your holier-than-thou whatever, and seek the suffering. Maybe you could learn something from the lgbtq community about what worshipping of God really looks like.

  19. Comment by Sam on March 30, 2020 at 9:13 am

    What ever worshiping God looks like, it does not include participating in, promoting, celebrating, or blessing anything God clearly condemns in His Word. If one reads His Word, one will see He takes a very dim view of such hypocrisy.

  20. Comment by Diane on March 28, 2020 at 11:32 pm

    Correction: Their identities are not revealed in the news

  21. Comment by Diane on March 28, 2020 at 11:45 pm

    The correction makes no sense – earlier additional comment wasn’t posted. Here’s the gist:

    What is true worship anyway? Attendance at a church service, virtual or otherwise?

    In my small southern county, 4 have tested positive for the corona virus and are now in quarantine. Their identities have not been revealed in the news, per privacy laws.

    However, I happen to know that two of those four in quarantine happen to be a lesbian couple (gee, lesbian like the bishop) who’ve returned from a cruise. Of course no one in churches around here know them – the couple has been sufficiently alienated from religious condemnation or indifference among
    Christian churches here. However, though churchfolk can’t minister to those they don’t want to get to know, don’t worry. The Christian lgbtq community here – that has no church building or organized worship, has been reaching out to this couple. We’ve been buying groceries and leaving them on their doorstep, picking up and delivering medicine, calling everyday to check in to find out their needs and offer companionship along the way thru phone conversations.

    True worship comes from the heart and the willingness to love and serve the neighbor one prefers to keep at arm’s length.

    I see God among these lgbtq folks who’re serving those stricken with this virus.

  22. Comment by Jim on March 29, 2020 at 2:22 am

    From James:
    27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
    See the second part Diane?

  23. Comment by Hayne on March 29, 2020 at 6:57 pm

    The arrogance of the bishop who tells her flock how they must or must not worship their God is appalling

  24. Comment by Diane on March 29, 2020 at 8:58 pm

    The Bishop should be congratulated. Meanwhile, “Juicy Ecumenism” has nary a word of condemnation for Jerry Falwell, Jr., who flaunted his blind, ignorant faith and recklessly invited Liberty University students to return to campus. Twelve students have now tested positive for COVID-19. Falwell was warned not to ask students to come back. He and the Liberty University should be sued to the max, putting this fundamentalist white evangelical Christian man and his University out of business.

    Note, this utter stupidity was wrought by a white, heterosexual evangelical “pro-life” (not!!!) Christian clergyman. Not someone I would want to follow. He put countless lives at risk and the small town of Lynchburg, VA, will probably soon find it’s healthcare system overwhelmed.

    The Bishop chose to act on the side of extreme caution, believing life is precious. She was neither reckless or stupid. She is both smart and protective of her people.

  25. Comment by Sam on March 30, 2020 at 9:16 am

    Your own words expose you as a child of the Father of lies. It is clear for any born-again Christian to see. May God open your eyes, ears and heart so that you turn to him and are saved.

  26. Comment by Jim on March 30, 2020 at 9:37 am

    A little bitter there Diane? Is it just “white” males you detest? All males? White heterosexual males? Wow you are one bitter human being- very sad.

  27. Comment by Ted on March 30, 2020 at 1:02 pm

    Dianne, maybe you should try some of Jerry’s “blind, endless faith”, instead of your new world politically correct kum-by-ya.

  28. Comment by Ted on March 30, 2020 at 1:25 pm

    Dianne, I would suggest you get your news from somewhere else besides the FAKE NEWS outlets (CNN, MSLSD, NYSlimes, Pravada on the Potomac, to which you have been listening.
    As of Monday, there are only 9 confirmed cases in the Central Health District which includes Lynchburg, Amherst & Bedford). Like a typical libbie SJW, I see you’re doing your best not to let a good crisis go to waste.

  29. Comment by Diane on March 29, 2020 at 10:08 pm

    Correction: other reports indicate eleven Liberty students show symptomless of the virus, a few have been tested at the hospital. With the lack of tests and wait for results, it’s reasonably assumed these students have COVID-19. Further, Liberty students critical of Falwell criticize his decision to return students to campus as politically-motivated. Students report that there are quarantine parties going on in some Liberty dorm rooms.

  30. Comment by Mike on March 29, 2020 at 10:55 pm

    Diane, I heard an interview with Jerry Falwell this past week. He said that most of the students who are on campus are overseas students who could not return home because of COVID-19 travel restrictions; they have no place else to go.

    Falwell also said they have taken many measures to create the necessary social distancing. If some of the students are having “quarantine parties” on campus, this is surely not a part of the campus guidelines for safety–but you’re trying to blame that on Falwell along with his having the students on campus.

    I suspect you’re getting your facts from some of the same liberal new sources who are blaming Trump and our military for this virus…

  31. Comment by Timothy on April 4, 2020 at 5:05 am

    I graduated from a noted private university in four years. My freshman year, most of the guys in my dorm had awful influenza. God Bless Liberty University, a growing successful school, much to the dismay of the government state skools of lower edjukacion.

  32. Comment by Diane on March 30, 2020 at 12:30 am

    Suggest you talk with the mayor of Lynchburg and if you can’t reach him, read the blog by Liberty professor Marybeth Davis Baggett

  33. Comment by Samuel W. Setliff on March 30, 2020 at 8:59 am

    Take it from a now former Episcopalian: I would not waste my time writing about the follies of the Episcopal “Church.” Very sad to say, but at this point it no longer qualifies as a church – virtually all of the Christians who were in the denomination have moved on to Anglican or other denominations.

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