Episcopal Bishop of Maine Requiring all Clergy and Staff to be Vaccinated

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On Monday, 8/23/21 in a letter to Maine’s Episcopal Priests and Deacons, the Right Reverend Thomas J. Brown, Bishop of Maine directed all clergy in the Episcopal Diocese of Maine, and all diocesan office staff, to be vaccinated unless under direction by a physician not to do so. “The Church’s role in public discourse is to remind us of what it means to do as Jesus teaches: to love our neighbors as much as ourselves,” says Bishop Brown. “In this case, it means prioritizing the common good and our community’s health.”

Bishop Brown points to the Baptismal covenant of the Episcopal Church which includes commitments of how Christians are called to live out their faith. Brown says, “This directive is grounded in our baptismal covenant in which we promise to seek and serve Christ in all persons, love our neighbor, and respect the dignity of every human being. This is a way for us to put those baptismal promises into real-life action.”

This announcement by Bishop Brown in Maine follows statements by religious leaders across the world in recent weeks calling for the faithful to be vaccinated. The Most Reverend Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church recently said, “Vaccines can help us save lives and make life livable,” Curry continues. “We can get ours for ourselves, but if not for ourselves, for our children who do not have a vaccine yet.” Pope Francis of the Catholic Church released a video last week stating, “Getting vaccinated is a simple yet profound way to care for one another, especially the most vulnerable.”

In considering his decision, Bishop Brown states, “Public health agencies, governments, corporations, schools, and not-for-profits are also announcing mandatory vaccinations,” he continues, “we are not all doing this because we are heavy-handed, but because vaccinations are the best tool we have to curb the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The Episcopal Church has long been a proponent of vaccines. A 2019 resolution from the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church states: “The Episcopal Church has long maintained that we are guided by faith and reason, and that scientific evidence helps us to better understand God’s creation, our place in it, and ways to alleviate suffering and pain,” the resolution continues, “The proper and responsible use of vaccines is a duty not only to our own selves and families but to our communities. Choosing to not vaccinate, when it is medically safe, threatens the lives of others.”