To all clergy and wardens,

As the national crisis over the Corona Virus continues to unfold, I am receiving updates from many of you and members of congregations around the diocese.  Thank you. I want you to know that your faith, determination, and creativity in confronting the challenges before us is inspirational. I thank God for all of you.

My immediate concern remains the health and safety of all of you, and I trust that you are taking every precaution possible to limit and contain the spread of the infection. I am also aware of the growing financial impact on all of our congregations, and that economic resources will be increasingly limited and strained.  I would encourage you to prioritize expenses and do everything possible to maintain staff salaries and the basic requirements for facilities (utilities, property insurance). I do not want mission share payments to inhibit these priorities, and I am working with the finance committee and diocesan council to provide some level of mission share relief. Details of that relief will be communicated as soon as possible. I am also directing my staff to prepare an application process for grants and loans to congregations in the most severe financial difficulty. Some congregations have even asked if they can participate in making funds available to other congregations. Perhaps your congregation would like to participate in making funds available as well. That would indeed be a blessing. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I will also make increased funds available to Episcopal Community Ministries (formerly ESCF) in order to maintain ministries that address basic human needs in your communities, such as food pantries and feeding programs. Now more than ever, we must proclaim the Gospel to a broken and troubled world.

We are a strong diocese, and we will be challenged in the weeks and months to come, but we will face those challenges far more effectively if we move forward together.  Please know that you are in my constant prayers, and I will do everything possible to be helpful and supportive.
The Rt. Rev. Thomas E. Breidenthal
Bishop of Southern Ohio