The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia announced Wednesday it will keep its 180 churches closed until at least May 8 — meaning there will be no in-person Easter services in Virginia’s Episcopal communities, despite President Trump’s declaration Tuesday that he wanted to see packed churches on Easter.
Most of the nation’s houses of worship have suspended in-person religious services and activities to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, and many do not expect to be open by Easter, which this year falls on April 12.
The Virginia Episcopal diocese, which says it has more than 68,000 members across most of the state (southern and southwestern Virginia are in separate church regions), initially announced March 11 it would close churches until March 25.
Last week, the diocese said its churches would remain closed at least through Easter. Episcopal churches in Maryland have said they will stay closed until at least May 16. They are joined by churches of many other denominations.
Bishop Susan Goff, who leads the Virginia diocese, reminded members in a letter that Easter will still come, even in isolation: “Let there be no doubt that this will stretch us, and let there be no doubt that we will worship God, we will commemorate the last week of our Lord’s earthly life, we will celebrate the wonder and glory of the resurrection.
“We will do it all in ways that will honor God, that will honor the health of the most vulnerable among us, and that will honor the restrictions placed upon us by our civic leaders. We are the Church, and we will be the Church during Holy Week, on Easter Day, and for as long as God calls us.”