HAWTHORNE, NJ - According to St. Clement's Episcopal Church, all services will be suspended for "at least the next two weeks". 

The Right Reverend Carlye J. Hughes, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark, released a letter Friday in which she said, "The risk of COVID-19 infection, the need to keep the public safe, and ensuring the safety of our members all require that we take deliberate and unusual steps. Effective Saturday, March 14 through Sunday, March 29, 2020, all congregations east of Dover (and including Dover) in the Diocese of Newark will refrain or fast from gathering for public worship, large group gatherings, and meetings involving high-risk groups (those over 60 and/or those with underlying medical conditions). Congregations west of Dover will interface with local authorities and the Bishop’s Office to determine operations. We will reevaluate on March 30 and hope to resume public worship on Palm Sunday, April 5."

"The closure applies to public worship services," Reverend Erik Soldwedel, deacon-in-residence at St. Clement's, told TAPinto Hawthorne.  "The church office will be open and Martha's Pantry will still be open Saturday."

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Rt. Rev. Hughes further said in her letter that, "During this time, we will do all that we can to support the spiritual, mental, and emotional needs of our congregations and communities while protecting their physical health. Though we will not offer public worship, we will continue loving God and loving God’s people. We will offer our prayers, praises, laments, and worship in writing, via phone call, and online. We ask all Episcopalians in our diocese to care for each other and their neighbors in the same way. Though we may not shake hands or give hugs, we can call, write, encourage, and support each other and our neighbors. I ask you to keep a careful eye out for those who struggle during this time of isolation, anxiety, and prolonged worry."

The bishop said that the Diocese of Newark will keep its website updated "for online and home prayer."  She added that diocesan meetings and large group events will be evaluated.  "We are not the first to experience the wilderness of unknown and unfamiliar territory. Moses, Abraham, Sarah, Hagar, and Jesus all come to mind. God does not abandon people in the wilderness, instead time and again the wilderness is a place where people are drawn more fully into God’s presence. I am trusting the One who created us to order our steps, to give us wisdom, to care for all people, and to watch over our going out and coming in, during this time and forevermore."

St. Clement's Episcopal Church, which hosts Martha's Pantry, is located at 271 Lafayette Ave in Hawthorne.  The office number is 973-427-8118.

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