The Roslyn Retreat Center, one of two retreat centers owned and operated by the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, today announced that it is furloughing employees and closing for the remainder of 2020. The move is in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Per remarks for Bishop Susan “It’s Not Misconduct if there are No Criminal Charges” Goff, the news was first relayed to staff at Shrine Mont, which is still debating how best to respond to the pandemic. Curiously, Shrine Mont is currently saying that it will open for the season in late May — prior to the lifting of the governor’s lockdown, and well before the pandemic is predicted to peak in the state.
In Roslyn’s case, news of the closure is not yet posted on the center’s website. I believe, however, in light of the denomination’s aging demographics and the fact that the CDC has deemed worship services and choir practices to be “super spreader” events, that the decision to close is appropriate.
The financial implications of the closures of diocesan-related organizations will be severe. While these organizations will have relatively limited carrying costs, especially with the furloughs, grounds maintenance and other structural expenses continue, regardless of whether they are open or closed. Moreover, while the diocese historically is relatively secretive about the details of its finances, it appears to derive several hundred thousand dollars a year in income from these facilities. That’s important at a time when the diocesan budget is declining on average more than 2% every year.
My guess is that Shine Mont also will close for the year, as there’s simply no way to safely move large groups through, particularly in light of the number of persons who share rooms, and the common dining facilities. But one way or another, the diocese faces some damned rocky times ahead.