Keep Alert

1 Corinthians 16:13-14  (NRSV)

The Apostle Paul bids farewell to the saints at Corinth, I Corinthians 16:13-14:

13 Keep alert, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done in love.

With the entire world, the Coronavirus will continue, for the foreseeable future, to have disruptive consequences in our shared life. We are in the midst of a disaster of global proportions as we learn every day how our lives are being altered.

In the Nashville Episcopal Area, from Camden on the edge of the Tennessee River, to North and East Nashville, from Hermitage to Mt. Juliet to Cookeville, life was disrupted by the tornado of March 2.  In the midst of this moment, our Disaster Response team continues to do the work of cleanup.  This work will become more challenging due to the need for social distancing.

We learned yesterday that General Conference would be postponed. We do not yet know when it will be rescheduled. We are not, at this time, making a decision regarding the Annual Conference in June.  However, we continue planning for our time together so that we will be ready in June or beyond. It remains uncertain if the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference will be postponed.

We continue to monitor new information as it relates to my request of you to suspend worship.  It now seems obvious that to help protect the health of our brothers and sisters in Christ, we will need to forgo gathering for worship and meetings in our buildings at least through Palm Sunday, April 5, and potentially throughout Holy Week and Easter.

In the midst of this unusual and uneven time when life becomes confusing, disappointing and certainty is no longer a given, our first response is prayer. Naming to God the truth of our experience as the Psalmist did. Expressing to God our confusion, our fear, even our anger will allow God through the Holy Spirit to give us strength and calm in the midst of this crisis.

I noted on a call to some of our team this morning that we are in the wilderness, not the promised land. The one constant in the wilderness is that God provided. It was God who gave manna. God was the only One who had agency. As we journey through a most unusual Lenten season of a wilderness not of our own making, let us be comforted by the promise of scripture in Hebrews 11.  “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” By faith…we travel, even when we know not where we are going. God is with us.

I invite you to continue networking with one another to discover the most creative ways we can stay connected even as we are separate. I have witnessed God working through you to be the church in the world in new, adaptive ways.

Recently Tom Laney gave me a book about leadership, “Resilient Leadership” by Bob Dugan and Bridgette Theurer.

The heart of the book is centered in these three phrases:

Stay Calm

Stay the Course (Stay on Mission!)

Stay Connected

The essence of the authors’ work is to lift up the need to lead with calm, clarity and conviction in anxious times.

If there was a time when we need these concepts to guide our thinking, it is now. It is paramount that as Christians we model leadership that serves those most vulnerable in our world. When we hear Jesus teach us to love our neighbors, we can do that by staying connected while not being in the same room with them.

Here is what I am learning: no matter who we are or where we are, all of us are facing the same fears, anxieties, and uncertainties. We have a unique opportunity to pray for wisdom and strength as we discover how to serve Christ in the midst of this pandemic. The creativity of our leaders is outstanding and the Holy Spirit is equipping us. You are discovering awesome ways to be in ministry with our communities.

Remember—stay calm, stay the course (on Mission!), stay connected.

Serving Christ with you,

Bill McAlilly

13 Keep alert, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done in love. I Corinthians 16:13-14


Holy God,

Our lives have been disrupted.

We feel vulnerable and uncertain about what to do.

We are told to stay at home, to create distance.

And by doing so we are loving our neighbors well.

This is counter to our instincts and desires to be close

to our loved ones, our friends, and our colleagues.

Teach us, in this strange time, to find new ways of being connected

In spite of our distance.

Teach us to be patient with one another

And to find ways to support those most vulnerable in our world.

Strengthen us, hold us, and help us, we pray.

Help us to see what we have not seen and know what we have not known

So that all of our decisions are rooted in your great wisdom.

This is our prayer.


Helpful Resources

World Health Organization

Centers for Disease Control:

COVID-19 & Ministry Resources: