August 25, 2021
Greetings, Beloved in Christ,
The theme of our update is preparedness. Over the weekend our southern districts added storm preparedness to their list of emergent needs. Neighbors stocked up on batteries, staple foods, and other necessities. Folks tuned into weather updates and adjusted their plans accordingly. This is exactly what we all need to be doing now with COVID-19. We need to tune into the best information we can access and adjust our behaviors accordingly.
As COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations rise throughout New England, it is time for pastors and local church re-entry teams to revisit the “alert systems” that were put in place when the pandemic began.
If you have a good alert system already in place, you do not need to reinvent it. Just return to it and deploy it as needed. This approach will help alleviate decision fatigue. These are not one and done decisions. We will be engaged in ongoing assessment. We may have to take steps back – such as returning to using masks, meeting outdoors as the weather permits, or meeting virtually for worship for a time.
Here are three types of questions Re-Entry Team members are receiving:
No, we have not. We continue to recommend that churches follow the latest advice of the CDC and local guidelines and regulations. Your District Superintendent’s role is to inform and advise, supporting local leadership.
Use your re-entry assessment plan, modifying it as you learn more. This is like weather forecasting. We are getting better at our predictions, but a sunny forecast does not guarantee a sunny day, so having that umbrella (aka mask) on hand is a good idea. Help people adjust to the new reality that many will now use masks as a matter of course for seasonal colds and flu as well as COVID-19.
In the Gospel according to Matthew, Jesus tells an unusual story about 10 young women. Five were unprepared (foolish) and five were well prepared (wise). Guess who made it through the story’s challenges?
Vaccinations are key.
Your church may also be able to help by working with your state CDC to set up a local vaccine clinic if offered.
Each state has protocols. Check your state CDC website. Links are posted at https://www.neumc.org/COVID19. We continue to urge the creation of contact lists for each gathering.
In general, be as consistent as possible. This probably will not mean that you have one unchangeable set of risk-reduction measures; rather, you will consistently communicate what each week’s risk reductions and ministry opportunities are. Below are resources for churches offering family ministries in virtual form.*
Keep in mind that children under age 12 are among our most vulnerable since vaccines are not available to them at this time. Ask yourself, what may I/we need to sacrifice to protect them?
This information from the CDC addresses kids 12 and under:
Please continue to make use of the resources available to you at https://www.neumc.org/COVID19.
Please continue to consult with your District Superintendent and local health authorities.
Please update your preparedness as a normal course of living in this time. And please continue to extend Christ’s healing love into the world around you, even and especially to those you disagree with.
The viral pandemic is lasting longer than we hoped. But it cannot outlast our hope in Christ. Jesus’ community is alive when we embody God’s deep love and care for every human being. Your NEAC Re-Entry Team continues to pray daily for your work to maintain and extend ministry.
Your NEAC Re-Entry Team
Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar
Rev. Karen Munson (facilitator)
Rev. Jill Colley Robinson
These resources and guidance do not replace legal advice and are intended to be used in conjunction with our conference’s safe sanctuaries policies. Thanks to our ministry partners in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference for this list. Find a PDF version here
Top five best practices for applying our safe sanctuaries policy to the virtual world