Faith leaders pledge to keep community healthy and safe

| November 25, 2020 1:00 AM

We the undersigned clergy, representing diverse faith communities across the state of Montana, pledge to do all in our power to keep our congregations and communities healthy and safe in the midst of this pandemic. While we have varying practices and theologies, all our traditions hold life as sacred and believe the imperative to protect and preserve life outweighs all other considerations.

Our state and our country are facing a crisis and we must meet this challenge together.

As people of faith, we trust in a higher power to help us through crises. But we must also trust our medical experts and caregivers. The best way to slow the spread of COVID-19 is to keep contacts outside our household to an absolute minimum. Wearing masks, washing hands, and staying physically distanced are all important and vital measures we all must take. But reducing our contacts with anyone beyond the people we live with is the best way to keep us all safe.

The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services has issued an order to keep public gatherings limited to 50 people in Phase 2. Houses of worship have been exempted from this requirement. However, as faith leaders, we pledge to steward the health of all by prioritizing remote worship and other activities until this crisis has passed. Additionally, we pledge to take care in planning and celebrating our holidays in the upcoming months so that we do not spread the virus.

It is crucial that we stay home as much as possible to protect ourselves, our families, our communities, and especially first responders and health care workers who risk their lives to care for us. We know that we can meet our sacred mission of worshipping together, learning together and caring for each other in ways that limit the risk of spreading COVID-19, save lives and relieve the strain on our healthcare system.

We pledge to keep our community healthy and safe, for all our sakes!

Rev. Tyler Amundson, Shiloh United Methodist Church, Billings; Rev. James Bell, Fromberg United Methodist Church, Fromberg; Rev. Connie Campbell-Pearson; Rev. John Daniels, pastor, First United Methodist Church, Missoula; Rev. Tracia Deal, Chaplain KRMC; Pastor Peter Erickson, Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, Columbia Falls; Mary Fagenstrom, Presbyterian, Great Falls; Pastor Jeryl Hollinger, Mountain View Mennonite Church, Creston; Rev. Rick Hulbert, Helena; Pastor Eric Huseth, Our Saviors Lutheran Church of Bonner, Bonner; Rev. Julie King, Choteau UMC, Brady UMC, and Dutton UMC, Choteau; The Rev. Roxanne Klingensmith, Bozeman; Fr. Charlie Knuth, Rector, All Saints Episcopal Church, Whitefish/Columbia Falls; Jasmine Krotkov, Religious Society of Friends, Montana Gathering of Friends, Great Falls; Rabbi Mark Kula, Missoula; Rev. Marcia Lauzon, Deacon, Episcopal Church of the Incarnation, Great Falls; Rev. Patrick Lewis, Billings First United Methodist Church, Billings; Pastor Jack Mattingly, Harlem Yoked Parish & Chinook UMC; Rev. Miriam Mauritzen, Community Pastor & Exec.Dtr of Serious JuJu, Kalispell; The Rev. Jody McDevitt, Bozeman; Rev. John Ritchie, Great Falls; Rev. David H. Rommereim, Lutheran, ELCA, Whitefish; Rabbi Francine Roston, Glacier Jewish Community/B’nai Shalom, Flathead County; Pastor William Sappington, Billings; The Rev. Canon Clark Sherman, Bozeman; Lorca Smetana, Celebrant, Bozeman; Rt. Rev. Marty Stebbins, Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Montana; and Rev. Jared Stine, Columbia Falls United Methodist Church, Columbia Falls.