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March 26, 2020
Heartland Conference and Association Shared Staff COVID 19 Pastoral Letter #3
Dear Pastors and Congregational Leaders:
As this time of sheltering at home lengthens and the sense of isolation for all of us deepens, we want to offer a continuing word of encouragement and support. We recognize this is an unprecedented season in which to do ministry. Never before has everyone had to shift the way in which ministry is done in such a dramatic way and under such an urgent timeframe.
We pray God’s continuing love, encouragement, and strength all around you. We seek to be available to you both to listen and to facilitate the sharing of resources that may be helpful to you. We recognize that across the conference there are widely varying contexts and so some resources will be more helpful than others, depending on your congregation’s setting and size (rural, urban, suburban). If there are particular needs that you have, we urge you to let us know. Our emails are listed below and you may contact any one of us.
We also recognize that not all ministry is congregational in nature. For those of you serving in specialized settings of chaplaincy or other non-parish settings, we are equally concerned for your support. A zoom call for those in specialized settings is listed in the resources that follow this letter. We recognize that the widely varying schedules which chaplains carry will make it difficult for one time that fits the needs of all and are committed to continuing to offer such space at other times so that your needs may be honored.
It is our strong recommendation that in-person worship be suspended through the end of April, at least. It seems clear from the counsel of the Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia Departments of Health that this will help both in the effort to flatten the curve of COVID 19’s emergence throughout the geography of the Heartland Conference and help to prevent COVID 19’s resurgence through contact which comes too soon. We will continue to update our counsel in this regard based on the most recent reporting of these departments of health.
We realize that this counsel will necessarily require alternatives related to how Holy Week and Easter are celebrated this year and have arranged for two zoom conversations early next week to provide an opportunity for sharing of ideas.
We pray God’s blessings on you and the ministry you are engaging. As we seek to be supportive and empowering of you in these days, there are resources about worship, generosity and finances, summer camp, rural ministry, chaplaincy, and also a few other meeting updates including the postponement of the National Youth Event that may be helpful to you.
Please remember that your work matters not only to your specific community of faith but also to the world. You are not alone. We are here for you. We close this letter by offering to you this blessing from Ephesians:
“[We] pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit and that Christ
may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love.” 18 [We] pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Indeed, may it be so for all of us!
Your Pastoral Partners in Ministry
Rev. Nayiri Karjian – firstname.lastname@example.org
Rev. Carl Robinson – email@example.com
Rev. Dave Long-Higgins – firstname.lastname@example.org
Rev. Dan Busch – email@example.com
Rev. Patricia Battle – firstname.lastname@example.org
- • What about Holy Week and Easter Worship?
- • First, a few reminders about Easter and the life of the church. From the time of the early church, every Sunday has been considered a celebration of the resurrection. It is why, even in Lent, Sundays are set apart. Second, not only is every Sunday a “little Easter”, we are gifted with a whole liturgical season of 50 days that is Eastertide. Many with whom we have had conversations are going to make the first Sunday when in-person worship resumes their big Easter celebration. For many, it will likely feel as if one is coming out of the tomb of sheltering-at-home and into the resurrection joy of the gathered community.
- •What kinds of resources are available for alternative celebrations of Holy Week and Easter?
- • There are two Zoom call opportunities that may be helpful to you in this regard:
- • A Worship Practicum for Holy Week
- •Holy Week Worship ideas – A Conversation with Songwriter, Richard Bruxvoort Colligan (co-hosted by Rev. Dave Long-Higgins, Rev. Dan Weyand-Geise, Rev. Ed Good, and Rev. Rich Jones) on Tuesday, March 31, 2020, at 1:30 pm. No registration required. Simply click on this link: https://zoom.us/j/411416718.
Generosity and Finance Resources
- • Some have asked for insight related to financial issues given the lack of in-person worship. Here are several resources which you may find helpful:
- • An online Workshop Related to Generosity and Stewardship in a Season of Pandemic this coming Monday, March 30, 2020, from 9:30 -12:30. Originally entitled “Generosity in Times of Transition”, our Transitional Conference Minister, Rev. Dave Long-Higgins, will now co-lead this training with Rev. Andrew Warner, Generosity Outreach Officer at the national setting of the UCC. The theme will be expanded to explore strategies for financial health in a time of pandemic. You may join this meeting by clicking on this link: https://zoom.us/j/808075522.
- • A Resource Sheet of Ideas assembled by our OPTIC team at the national setting entitled “Extravagant Generosity – Considerations During the Pandemic” may be found by clicking here.
- • A Video by Andrew Warner, Cynthia Bailie, and Jacqueline Owen from Optic called “Extravagant Generosity (Coronavirus Episode)” which can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=slJZveN4aZ4&feature=youtu.be
Rural Ministry Zoom Call
- • Wednesday, April 1, at 10 am – A zoom call (video or phone) to offer support, encouragement and the mutual sharing of ideas for those specifically in rural settings.
- Here is the zoom link information:
- • Join Zoom Meeting with video: https://zoom.us/j/943442638
- • Join zoom meeting by phone 1-646-876-9923 Meeting Id: 943442638
Chaplaincy Zoom Call
- • Thursday, April 2, 7:00 pm – A zoom call (video or phone) to offer support and encouragement to any who are serving in any form of Chaplaincy.
- • Here is the zoom link information:
- • Join zoom Meeting with video: https://zoom.us/j/110769027
- • Join zoom meeting via phone: 1-646-876-9923 Meeting Id: 110 769 027
- • We are still planning for summer camp according to our original plans, even as there are preparations for multiple contingency plans.
- • The National Youth Event has been postponed until 2022. The precise dates are still to be determined. The location will be at Purdue University where we were originally planned to gather this year. A full refund will be given to any who have already registered for this event.
- • The National Member in Discernment (MID) event has been canceled for 2020 but there will be an event in 2021.
- • A National Rural Church Gathering is still being planned for November and will be hosted here in the Heartland Conference.
- • The Theological Summit scheduled for August 31-September 1 will be an online event instead of in-person.
- •First Congregational Hudson: https://boxcast.tv/channel/nbvptgpa4ho5h2rtf7ya
- •Bath UCC: https://www.bathucc.org/
- • CDC COVID-19 Updates
- • CDC New Travel Alerts
- • World Health Organization Updates
- • Coronavirus Resources From the UCC
Summer Camp Update
National Youth Event and A Few Other Event Updates
Here are some additional resources that may be helpful to you in this season:
A Faithful Response, with Worship, to the Coronavirus: This document serves as a resource for faithful tips and considerations for congregations. Updates will be added as circumstances change. This resource has information about online giving which may be helpful to you in this season.
March 9, 2020, UCC News: UCC churches establish protocols, preach awareness, not panic as COVID-19 cases grow
Church leaders urge education, caution and common sense as U.S. coronavirus cases increase – UCC News story February 28, 2020
Factsheet: Workplace, school and home guidance from the Centers for Disease Control
Latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC): https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
UCC Disaster Ministries “A Disaster Preparedness Manual for Churches” (no “pandemics” section – yet! – but great counsel for preparing for any sort of disaster)
UCC Disaster Ministries joins ecumenical coronavirus response – January 29, 2020
Information from the Insurance Board: https://www.insuranceboard.org/safety-resources/
INFORMATION ABOUT WORSHIP AND THE VIRUS
One License Gratis Licenses through April 15:
Information from Living Water Association: https://livingwaterone.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Worship-Coronavirus.pdf
RESOURCE FROM NEW YORK CONFERENCE UCC – IF YOU DECIDE TO GATHER FOR WORSHIP
JOIN SOME OF OUR CONGREGATIONS WHO LIVE STREAM THEIR SERVICES
RESOURCES TO VIDEO STREAM YOUR CONGREGATION’S WORSHIP:
Webinar from WI Council of Churches:
How to use Facebook Live to stream your church service, from UMC: