Let Us Take on the Responsibility of Doing Good In a Time of Grave Concern
I pray you are staying safe and well, though we know that a growing number of members of the California-Nevada Conference have contracted COVID-19. Let us continue to pray for one another and all God’s children everywhere, that this pandemic may pass away, and we may all be freed from its grip.
Thank you, friends, for all you have been doing to be a positive and helpful witness in this time. We face the present moment together and each one of us has to bear the responsibility for the aspect of this situation that is in our hands to care for.
Thank you for being responsible leaders in our hurting world.
As your bishop, I am fortunate to bear my responsibilities of guiding our entire Conference well with an Extended Cabinet and a Conference Lay Leader who have been serving with me as our Conference COVID-19 Response Team. Since the beginning of the pandemic, this Response Team has met early every Monday morning without fail, to examine what we need to be doing to help keep our congregations, clergy, and communities as safe as possible.
As persons who are responsible for yourselves and those within your families and faith communities, I hope you have kept abreast of the many resources we have been providing you including protocols for re-opening pre-schools, drive-in church, and in-person worship. We are grateful for your participation in the COVID-19 webinars that have also been shared. Many thanks to clergy, lay persons, and conference staff who have led us in these very helpful webinars.
We have asked that our church buildings remain closed up to now. Thank you, pastors, for finding virtual and other ways to keep our congregations moving forth as communities of Christian faith.
As we now move into July and the rest of the summer, we share with you grave concern about the relentless impact of the pandemic across our states and across the nation.
Recently we invited 8 churches to help us test protocols for re-launching in-person worship. We are so very grateful for the efforts of these churches and their pastors on behalf of all of us. We learned from them how much work it is to re-launch in-person worship under necessary protocols. We also heard from them what a joy it has been for them to be together again.
Out of their good work I had hoped that we could say we are in a place to re-launch in-person worship under protocols everywhere. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
Data from major indicators show Covid-19’s strong and steady spread across a significant number of the counties where our churches are located. I am attaching yesterday’s report that our Extended Cabinet, our Conference Lay Leader and I considered at this week’s Monday morning COVID-19 Response Team meeting. Click here to access the report.
Out of this ongoing work, I am prayerfully requesting the following of you as we move into the balance of this summer:
- Serve in the knowledge that the pandemic is still with us;
- Assume that we will continue to have to follow safety protocols for months to come;
- Keep your church buildings closed and your ministries vital in virtual and other new ways unless you and your DS have agreed that you can meet the protocols that have been provided to the churches of our Conference for the re-launching of pre-schools, drive-in church or in-person worship. Click here to access all protocols.
- Work with your district superintendent to obtain permission for any and all facility re-opening phases of your church building and the gathering of your congregation;
- Take on your responsibility for doing good in this critical time and not being a source of harm to others, yourself or your congregation including being aware of the status of the pandemic in your county;
- Remember that as the connectional people called United Methodists, we will work together to overcome the present struggle as we have faced other struggles in the past;
- Trust in God who is sustaining us, healing us, and will be ever faithful toward us.
Dear Friends, in summary I can only offer what we already know: curbing the spread of COVID-19 requires all of us to take on the responsibility to do good in all the ways we can for as long as is necessary until we emerge from the pandemic shadow and find our way forward.
As when this journey began, we could not hope to predict all the large and small ways each of us would be called to live into our Wesleyan commitments. Yet, here we are on the road together, In the midst of the storm, forging the way forward together.