Glory to Jesus Christ! It is with sorrow that I have to announce the temporary suspension of liturgical services at St. Mary’s. This afternoon, Gwinnett County announced a “stay at home” order that goes into effect at 12:01 on March 28th, and runs through April 13th unless it is extended, or rescinded.
In accordance with this, our Archbishop has decreed that we obey the local authorities on these matters. Here are the statements from the diocesan chancellor on this matter:
Looking forward to this eventuality, when any local civil authority within the bounds of the Diocese of the South issues mandatory closings and/or civilian isolation orders (variously called "shelter-in-place", "stay-at-home", etc.), based on the statement of the Holy Synod and at the direction of Archbishop Alexander, any of our parishes or missions in that jurisdiction from the time that the local mandate goes into effect will "temporarily cease offering divine services".
"In light of decisions made by the officials of various government jurisdictions, we sorrowfully acknowledge that, at the direction of the Diocesan Bishop and in keeping with said government directives, parishes, missions, and chapels of the Orthodox Church in America may be required to temporarily cease offering divine services."
I know that this is terribly difficult for all of us, but it is the situation we find ourselves in for the moment. Please remember the example of St. Mary of Egypt who spent many decades away from church, and yet, was transfigured by the grace of God. Certainly, we would all rather be in the divine services, but that is not possible at this time. This is an act of love for our neighbor!
Please use the time to pray, to reflect on the things of the Kingdom of Heaven, to study the Scriptures, and other spiritual texts, and to let your hearts be in the Presence of the Most High God. In the words of the contemporary Romanian elder, Fr. Paisus (Olaru), “Don’t waste time!”
Feel free to contact me as needed. Also, stay in contact with one another, and pray for your parish family.
With love in Christ,