Author: Elaine Stanovsky

Approaching Pentecost with heavy hearts

United Methodists of the Greater Northwest,

My heart is heavy with the weight of another killing of an unarmed Black man at the hands of a white policeman. At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit gave humanity a miracle as the Church was born: the ability to understand each other, even though they came from different cultures and spoke different languages.

This Sunday, please join me in praying for George Floyd, whose breath was stolen from him, and for his family as they mourn. Pray that God’s Holy Spirit will give us, in our time, the gifts of understanding, respect, and peace among the peoples of this nation, blessedly diverse in race, culture, and language.

Below, find the pastoral statement by Bruce Ough, bishop of the Minnesota and Dakotas Annual Conferences. 

Please also join me next Wednesday for a webinar at our usual time (8 am AKDT, 9 am PDT, 10 am MDT) titled “Confronting the Sin of Racism.”

While this is a shift from our planned topic, I hope you will join me in this important conversation. If you have already registered for next week’s webinar, the link from your confirmation email will still be valid.

Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky

——–

Bishop Bruce R. Ough issued the following statement following the death of George Floyd. Floyd, a Black man, died May 25 in the custody of Minneapolis police after an officer was shown pinning him down while he struggled to breathe. 

There is more than one pandemic ravaging Minnesota and our country at this time. In addition to fighting COVID-19, we are besieged by a pandemic of racism, white supremacy, and white on black or brown violence. The tragic, racially charged, and unnecessary death of George Floyd at the hands of four Minneapolis police officers is only the latest flare-up of this pandemic—and Mr. Floyd is only the latest victim. The list of Black lives who have been needlessly killed grows each day. The pervasive culture of racism and white supremacy, increasingly incited by political rhetoric, grows each day. The fear among parents of Black children grows each day. The flaunting of our laws against racial profiling and discrimination grows each day.

I applaud Mayor Jacob Frey and Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo for acting decisively and quickly to fire the police officers. I am grateful the FBI is launching a civil rights investigation. I join with many others in demanding that justice prevail in this situation. I am praying for the Floyd family and the police officers and their families.

Now, it is our responsibility as persons of faith, and particularly as followers of Jesus in the Methodist tradition, to address this pervasive pandemic of racism. We are compelled to address this pandemic with the same intensity and intentionality with which we are addressing COVID-19.

We begin by acknowledging that racism is sin and antithetical to the gospel. We confess and denounce our own complicity. We take a stand against any and all expressions of racism and white supremacy, beginning with the racial, cultural, and class disparities in our state and country that are highlighted by the coronavirus pandemic. We sound the clarion call for the eradication of racism. We challenge governmental leaders who fan the flames of racial division for political gain. We examine our own attitudes and actions; all change begins with transformed hearts continually yielding to the righteousness and love of God.

Let us not turn away or ignore the disease that has been tearing our country apart and destroying lives for centuries. This disease—the sin of racism and white supremacy—denies the teachings of Jesus and our common, created humanity. Let us renew our efforts to eradicate the disease that truly threatens our ideals and the lives, livelihoods, and dignity of so many of our neighbors.

I urge you to join me in continuing to pray for the Floyd family as well as the many families whose lives were tragically altered or whose fears have been heightened as a result of this inexcusable tragedy. May God’s grace, peace, justice, and vision of the Beloved Community overpower the forces of evil and death.

Bishop Bruce R. Ough
Resident Bishop, Dakotas-Minnesota Area
The United Methodist Church

Aviso #5, de parte de nuestra Obispa en relación con el COVID-19, 24 de abril de 2020

Clero Metodista Unido y Laicos del Gran Noroeste,

“Gracias a la entrañable misericordia de nuestro Dios. Así nos visitará desde el cielo el sol naciente para dar luz a los que viven en tinieblas, en la más terrible oscuridad, para guiar nuestros pasos por la senda de la paz. Lucas 1:78-79

EXTENSION DE SUSPENSIÓN DE ADORACIÓN Y CIERRE DE EDIFICIOS
Como obispa del Área del Gran Noroeste de la Iglesia Metodista Unida, estoy extendiendo la suspensión del culto en persona en nuestras Iglesias y otros ministerios, y el cierre de las facilidades de la iglesia y servicios esenciales en las conferencias de Alaska, Oregón, Idaho y el Pacífico Noroeste hasta el 30 de mayo de 2020, o hasta cuando al menos el gobierno estatal y los funcionarios de salud levanten las restricciones basadas en sus criterios publicados para la reapertura. Esta fecha puede reconsiderarse a medida que cambian las circunstancias.

¿Cómo llegué a esta decisión y qué significa?

24 DE MARZO: Suspensión del culto en persona y cierre de edificios.

El 24 de marzo ordené que el culto en persona y otras reuniones se pospusieran en las Iglesias Metodistas Unidas y otros ministerios hasta el 30 de abril de 2020.

Al mismo tiempo, ordené que se cerraran todas las instalaciones de la Iglesia, excepto los servicios esenciales. Estas acciones se tomaron para proteger la salud de las personas vulnerables, para frenar la propagación de la enfermedad y para evitar que los sistemas de atención médica colapsaran debido al aumento repentino de casos que necesitarían camas y equipos de hospital.

¡Ayudaste a mantener a la gente SALUDABLE!

¡Lo hiciste! Hiciste ajustes y encontraste maneras de ser iglesia sin reunirte para adorar. Tus acciones y el cumplimiento por parte de la población general de las órdenes de los gobernadores parecen haber frenado la propagación, aplanado la curva de la crisis y evitado una crisis en nuestros sistemas de atención médica.

Doy gracias a Dios por las increíbles formas en que has contribuido a estos resultados. Al mismo tiempo, sufrimos por las personas que contrajeron COVID-19, algunas de las cuales fueron hospitalizadas e incluso murieron. Y seguimos manteniendo en nuestros corazones y oraciones a todos los que están en riesgo de contraer esta enfermedad por que prestan servicios esenciales, o tienen condiciones de salud comprometedoras, o quienes, debido a las desigualdades sistémicas en nuestra sociedad, viven con poca o ninguna red de seguridad social.

PASCUA DE RESURECCION: Celebraste la resurrección en la sombra de la muerte. ¡Aleluya!

Encontraste formas de superar todo tipo de obstáculos para celebrar la Pascua. Ustedes clérigos y líderes laicos han demostrado un espíritu aventurero, ya que aprendieron a cuidarse unos a otros, a rendir culto y apoyar a las personas vulnerables en sus vecindarios, mientras mantenían la distancia física y suspendían todas las reuniones. Cristo el Señor resucitó esta Pascua, con gritos de Hosanna!, con oraciones por fortaleza y sanidad, y con actos de generosidad. Muy bien hecho, amados y fieles servidores.

MAYO 1

Ahora nos estamos acercando al final de las instrucciones que les di el 24 de marzo y muchos de ustedes están ansiosos por saber si las restricciones se levantarán o se extenderán. Estoy monitoreando muy de cerca toda la orientación y dirección para así poder levantar las restricciones en cada uno de nuestros cuatro estados del Gran Noroeste, así como también revisando los informes diarios de nuevos casos, muertes y la capacidad del sistema de salud. Como saben, la enfermedad se ha desarrollado a diferentes velocidades en toda el área. Y los climas culturales y políticos en nuestra región son variados, lo que lleva a diferentes evaluaciones de los riesgos involucrados. Me encuentro liderando en medio de la continua incertidumbre y controversia sobre cual es el mejor curso de acción. Tres prioridades basadas en valores informan mi liderazgo como su obispa.

  1. No haga daño: Proteja la salud publica
  2. Haz el bien: Comparta la carga financiera con las personas más vulnerables y con los mas impactados económicamente.
  3. Manténgase en el amor de Dios: Promueva los ministerios que vivifican la Iglesia.

HAZ EL BIEN. Protege la salud pública

Siguiendo el liderazgo de cuatro gobernadores muy diferentes, nuestros cuatro estados están resistiendo la pandemia mejor de lo esperado.  Estoy predispuesta a confiar en los gobernadores de cada estado y escuchar a sus asesores de atención médica, que conocen su región, su gente y quieren brindarles una guía prudente al pueblo. Si bien los cuatro gobernadores han establecido sus criterios para levantar las restricciones gradualmente dentro de sus estados, en la actualidad ninguno de estos gobernadores ha tomado medidas específicas para levantar las restricciones que afectarían a nuestras Iglesias. Cuando lo hagan, las iglesias deberán ser muy cautelosas sobre la reapertura y reuniones en nuestras Iglesias, teniendo en cuenta que entre nuestros miembros y amigos hay muchos participantes que corren el riesgo de contraer enfermedades graves debido a COVID-19, debido a la edad o condiciones de salud comprometedoras.

HAZ EL BIEN. Comparta las cargas de las personas más vulnerables

Durante este tiempo que nuestros edificios han estado cerrados y hemos aplazado el culto en persona, espero que cada congregación se haya comprometido con sus vecinos, al asociarse con organizaciones comunitarias que están directamente involucradas con las personas que son más vulnerables a los impactos económicos de la pandemia. Este compromiso con su vecindario será muy importante para su congregación, su contexto y las asociaciones que puede formar durante este tiempo para usted poder servir a las personas más expuestas durante esta crisis. El otro día escuché de una iglesia en un pequeño pueblo que estableció una “cuenta” con el supermercado local para que las personas que necesitaban comida pudieran “comprar” lo que necesitaban y cobrarlo a una cuenta de la iglesia. En este acuerdo todos ganan, las personas obtienen comida, la iglesia sirve a las personas necesitadas, a quienes quizás ni siquiera conocen, y el negocio de la tienda de comestibles recibe apoyo. No existe una receta para este tipo de respuesta innovadora. Todo se basa en relaciones locales que pueden convertirse en redes de cuidado.

MANTÉNGASE EN AMOR DE DIOS. Promueva los ministerios que vivifican la Iglesia. 

Si bien sé que la efectividad del ministerio y la salud de la vida de la congregación se ven afectadas cuando las personas no pueden reunirse para adorar, esta dificultad no nos debe justificar a correr el riesgo de propagar la enfermedad a través de reuniones de la iglesia o exponer a personas mayores con problemas de salud y hasta la posibilidad de muerte al reabrir nuestras reuniones de la iglesia demasiado pronto. Confío y sé que los líderes y las personas en cada iglesia están encontrando formas creativas de continuar cumpliendo la promesa de Dios de vida abundante para todas las personas y toda la creación a pesar de estas circunstancias extremas. Cuando sea el momento adecuado, nos reuniremos nuevamente y reconstruiremos y renovaremos nuestros ministerios.

31 DE MAYO – PENTECOSTÉS

Al entrar en otro mes de algún nivel de separación física, esperamos que podamos reunirnos en nuestras iglesias el 31 de mayo en el día de Pentecostés. Pentecostés se considera el cumpleaños de la Iglesia, cuando personas de muchas naciones se reunieron en Jerusalén para escuchar a Pedro predicar. El libro de los Hechos describe cómo la gente entendió lo que el dijo, a pesar de que hablaban muchos idiomas diferentes. Espero que podamos reunirnos en adoración ese día, o tal vez antes. Mantengamos esto como una fecha en que todos esperamos, para orar y para trabajar. Y si no puede ser el 31 de mayo, si llega antes o después, entonces, nos ajustaremos, tal como lo hemos estado haciendo durante estas semanas. 

No necesito recordarte que Dios está con nosotros y en el trabajo que realizamos. No necesito recordarte que los milagros suceden todos los días, incluso en medio de la enfermedad y la muerte, a medida que las personas de corazones generosos vierten su vida en amor y servicio en donde es necesario.  Somos bendecidos al ser de bendición. Gracias a nuestro Dios, que abre el camino de la vida ante nosotros. 

Que Dios te bendiga y te guarde hoy y en los días venideros.

Obispa Elaine JW Stanovsky

Bishop’s COVID-19 Notice #5.1 – Amended April 27, 2020

Note: Amended text is denoted in Purple in first section. Changes were also made to the section titled “DO NO HARM. Protect Public Health.” Resource links have been added below the signature for further reading.


United Methodist Clergy and Laity of the Greater Northwest Area,

By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
guide our feet into the way of peace.    Luke 1:78-79

EXTENSION OF WORSHIP SUSPENSION AND BUILDING CLOSURES
As bishop of the Greater Northwest Area of The United Methodist Church, I am extending the suspension of in-person worship in United Methodist Churches and other ministries and the closure of church facilities to all but essential services throughout the Alaska, Oregon-Idaho and Pacific Northwest Conferences through May 30, 2020, despite the loosening of restrictions in some or all of the states of Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington. This date may be reconsidered as circumstances change.

How did I come to this decision, and what does it mean?

MARCH 24: Suspension of In-Person Worship and Closure of Buildings.
On March 24 I directed that in-person worship and other gatherings be postponed in United Methodist Churches and other ministries through April 30, 2020. At the same time, I directed that all Church facilities were to be closed except for essential services. These actions were taken to protect the health of vulnerable people, to slow the spread of the disease, and to prevent health care systems from becoming overwhelmed by a sudden surge of cases needing hospital beds and equipment.   

You helped keep people HEALTHY!
You did it! You made adjustments and found ways to be church without gathering for in-person worship. Your actions, and the general population’s compliance with the orders of the governors appear to have slowed the spread, flattened the curve of the crisis, and averted a crisis in our health care systems. I thank God for the incredible ways you have contributed to these outcomes. At the same time, we grieve over people who have contracted COVID-19, some of whom have been hospitalized and even died. And we continue to hold in our hearts and prayers all who are at risk for this disease because they render essential services, or have compromising health conditions, or who, because of systemic inequities in our society live with little or no social safety net.

EASTER: You celebrated Resurrection in the Shadow of Death. Alleluia!
You found ways to overcome all kinds of obstacles to celebrating Easter. Your clergy and lay leaders have demonstrated an adventuresome spirit, as you learned how to care for one another, conduct worship and support vulnerable people in your neighborhoods, while maintaining physical distancing and suspending all gatherings. Christ the Lord was Risen again this Easter, with shouts of Alleluia!, prayers for strength and healing, and acts of generosity. Well done, good and faithful servants.   

MAY 1
We are now approaching the end of the directives I gave on March 24 and many of you are eager to know whether the restrictions will be lifted or extended. I am closely monitoring the guidance and criteria for loosening restrictions in each of our four Greater Northwest states, as well as the daily reports of new cases, deaths and health system capacity. As you know, the disease has unfolded at different rates across the area. And the cultural and political climates across our region are varied, leading to different assessments of the risks involved. I find myself leading in the midst of continued uncertainty and significant controversy about the best course of action. Three value-based priorities inform my leadership as your bishop.

  1. Do No Harm: Protect the public health
  2. Do Good: Share the financial burden with persons most vulnerable to economic impacts
  3. Stay in Love with God: Promote the life-giving ministries of the Church

DO NO HARM. Protect Public Health
Following the leadership of four very different governors, our four states are all weathering the pandemic better than expected. All four governors have laid out the criteria that must be met before incremental, phased loosening of restrictions within their states begins. I am pre-disposed to trust the governors of each state to listen to their health care advisors, know their regions and give prudent guidance. At present none of these four governors has reported that the criteria within their state have been met. As Christians and citizens committed to protecting public health, we are responsible both to abide by the guidance of government and health officials, and to assess whether the Church holds itself to a higher standard of caution than the states direct.

First, we need to evaluate whether the governors’ own criteria have been met before loosening restrictions. As of this writing (4/27/2020) Alaska and Idaho have begun to loosen restrictions on gatherings of faith communities. Oregon and Washington have not taken similar actions at this time. Despite the affirmation by governors that testing and case tracking are necessary to protect public health, based upon their own published documents and reports, I cannot verify that each state has the capacity for testing and case tracking necessary to prevent spread of the disease.

Second, if a state meets its own criteria, and loosens restrictions, I will continue to ask whether it is prudent for the Churches to do likewise. Without adequate testing and case tracking, church gatherings may allow the virus to spread unchecked and expose people who are at most risk for severe illness, due to age, access to health care or compromising health conditions.

DO GOOD. Share the Burdens of Most Vulnerable Persons
During this season of closed buildings and postponed in-person worship, I hope that every congregation will re-engage its neighbors, by partnering with community organizations that are directly involved with people who are most vulnerable to the economic impacts of the pandemic. How this neighborhood engagement looks will be specific to your congregation, its context, and the partnerships you are able to form to serve people most at risk during this crisis. I heard the other day of a church in a small town that set up a “tab” with the local grocer so that people who needed food could “shop” for what they needed and charge it to a tab that the Church paid. In this win-win-win arrangement, people get food, the church serves people in need whom they may not even know, and the grocer’s business is supported in the process. There is no recipe for this kind of innovative response. It’s all based on local relationships that can become networks of care.

STAY IN LOVE WITH GOD. Promote the Life-Giving Ministries of the Church.
While I know that the effectiveness of ministry and health of congregational life suffer when people are not able to gather for worship, this hardship does not justify taking the risk of spreading the disease through church gatherings, or exposing older and health-compromised people to infection and possible death by re-opening our church gatherings too soon. I trust and know that the leaders and people in each church are finding creative ways to continue to serve God’s promise of abundant life for all people and the whole creation despite these extreme circumstances. When the time is right, we will gather again and re-build and renew our ministries.

MAY 31 – PENTECOST
As we enter another month of some level of physical separation, let’s hope that we will be able to gather in our churches on Pentecost, May 31. Pentecost is considered the birthday of the Church, when people from many nations gathered in Jerusalem to hear Peter preach. The book of Acts describes how the people understood what he said, even though they spoke many different languages. I hope that we will be able to gather in worship that day – maybe sooner. Let’s hold it as a date to hope for, to pray for, to work for. And if it can’t be May 31 – if it comes sooner, or later – then, we’ll adjust, just as we have been adjusting for these many weeks.    

I don’t need to remind you that God is with us and at work. I don’t need to remind you that miracles happen every day, even in the midst of disease and death, as people of generous hearts pour their lives out in love and service where there is need. We are blessed to be a blessing. Thanks be to God, who opens the way of life before us. 

May God bless you and keep you today and through the days ahead.

Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky

FOR FURTHER READING

ALASKA

IDAHO

OREGON

WASHINGTON

Bishop’s COVID-19 Notice #4, April 23, 2020

WHAT’S IN YOUR POCKET? Sharing what we have with those who have less.

Members and friends of The United Methodist Church in the Greater Northwest,

“From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required
and from the one to whom much has been entrusted,
                       even more will be demanded.” – Luke 12: 48b 

“Earn all you can. Save all you can. Give all you can.” 
– John Wesley, “On Money”

There is nothing fair about COVID-19.  People are not equally vulnerable to it or protected from it.  People don’t all have the same supportive community, the same emotional and spiritual resources.  People don’t have equal access to health care. People do not all have the same resources to endure an economic downturn, unemployment or closed schools.

COVID-19 exposes injustices that are embedded in our social, economic and political systems.  For some, this pandemic means an immediate survival crisis. 

Sharing what we can when people are suffering comes as second nature to people who follow Jesus.  If you have the ability to give money at this time of crisis, I am writing to encourage you to do so.  If you are able, please consider one or all the following actions.

  • Support your Local Church.  Your church needs your support for as long as this crisis lasts and beyond.  A check in the mail is a blessing.
  • After you have given to your local church, if you can do more, please give a “thank offering” to the FUND FOR FAMILIES. Text the code   “GNWFFF” to 44-321 or visit http://bit.ly/gnwfff to give. Local Churches will partner with community organizations to “practice being human” with people who are especially vulnerable to the impacts of COVID-19.
  • If someone else may need your Stimulus check more than you do, consider “passing it along” to the FUND FOR FAMILIES (above).   

Begin now to think now about whether you can share your salary if local churches become unable to support their clergy or lay staff salaries.
 
And, finally, if you can’t make financial contributions, offer what you can. Life-saving social distance. A prayer. A phone call. A kind word. A letter or note card. An email. FaceTime. Help with groceries. A favorite poem, book, song, photo or TV series. Weeding a garden. Blood donation. God is counting on us to share what we have. 

I want each of you to take plenty of time to think it over,
and make up your own mind what you will give….
God loves it when the giver delights in the giving.

– 2 Corinthians 9:7, MSG

Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky

An important update regarding the 2020 GNW Shared Annual Conference Session

April 16, 2020

Lay and clergy members of the Alaska, Oregon-Idaho and Pacific Northwest Annual Conferences,

Beloved in Christ, I am writing in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic to notify you that I have canceled the Shared Annual Conference session scheduled for June 2020 at the Washington State Fair Grounds in Puyallup, Washington. The current global health crisis has required strong action on the part of public officials to protect the public health. We don’t know how long the present restrictions of public gatherings, commerce and travel will continue. In deference to public health considerations, to honor the members of the Conferences who must make hotel and travel plans, and in order to avoid a sudden decision close to the scheduled dates, I have made this decision now. 

Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky

The Greater Northwest is not alone in facing this dilemma. We are living through unprecedented times, requiring adaptations to many of the customs and systems we have known. Alternative plans for the Conference sessions will be developed collaboratively with the cabinets and officers of the Conferences, as well as colleagues across the United States.

Canceling Annual Conference leaves many questions unanswered in the short run that will have to be answered before I can announce alternative plans to conduct the minimal, essential business of the Annual Conferences in a safe and timely manner. Just a few:

  • How will nominations for the next quadrennium be handled?
  • What about the clergy session: retirements, commissioning, and ordinations?
  • Don’t we have to adopt a budget for 2021?
  • Click here to submit your own questions.

I appeal to you for patience and grace as we search for an orderly way to administer the Conferences without compromising the health and safety of our members or the general public. I hope that we will be able to announce the alternative plan to do this very soon.

As we struggle to find our bearings in the turbulence of illness, separation, risk, and economic collapse, I am deeply grateful to each of you for your steadfast faithfulness to God’s promises of abundant life, and for your sacrificial commitment to the Church – your local church home, your neighborhood and the whole global United Methodist family.

Listen, taste and see. God is at work in the turbulence – doing a new thing. Do you not see it?

I wait with longing to be together again. In the meantime, we have challenges to face, work to do, lessons to learn. It’s a great, terrifying time to be alive. May God bless you and keep you until we can meet together.

Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky

Attached: Cancellation of Annual Conference June 2020

Question: Can we meet outdoors on Easter?

The following question was posed this week to Bishop Stanovsky by a pastor serving in the Greater Northwest Area. It has been edited lightly for clarity.


QUESTION

Bishop, I heard Governor Cuomo’s address this morning and one of the things he noted is that the blanket action to close everything needs to be made with the added information they have gained. He said now strategic decision making needs to be brought to bear so that portions of the population that need to stay home should and others could be allowed to go to work and start the economy slowly and thoughtfully. There are populations that need to stay home and some don’t if they follow the strict CDC protocols.

I hope in making your decision about church closures, you will consider these differences in the populations and areas most affected and those which are not. For instance, before the church closures, we had urged people in high-risk populations to stay home and use precautions. Those who were not, if they felt they were safe, could come to worship where we practiced strict sanitary protocols and spatial distancing.

One of our members recently offered to use his outdoor stage and field for an open-air Easter Celebration and place chairs safely apart if we want to use it instead of the sanctuary. His offer is gracious and he is thinking of how to have an Easter Celebration safely.

This is the time of strategic decision making I think Governor Cuomo was referring to. Just my thoughts as you make your decision. I am praying for you as always.

Pastor

ANSWER

A week ago, I was imagining the faithful scattered sparsely on hillsides shouting Alleluia on Easter Sunday.  The person who has offered an outdoor space is thinking creatively and generously.  However, this is not the year.

The states of Oregon, Washington, and Idaho have all issued Stay at Home orders that do not permit gatherings of any size, even if social distances are kept. An outdoor gathering for Easter worship in any of these three states is not allowed under orders in effect and put public health at risk. As I prayerfully gather and weigh all the evidence and listen to the orders of our public officials, I am moved by conscience and obedience to the law of the states and the law of love to insist that United Methodists postpone from gathering until the danger is past and restrictions lifted. 

My directive applies to all four states in the Greater Northwest out of an abundance of caution and concern for public health. 

Bishop Elaine

Related Information

AlaskaHealth Mandates
IdahoOrder to Self-Isolate
OregonOrder to Stay Homes, Save Lives
WashingtonProclamation to Stay Home – Stay Healthy

Aviso #3 de parte de nuestra Obispa acerca del COVID-19, 24 de Marzo de 2020

“Maestro”, dijo, “¿qué debo hacer para heredar la vida eterna?” Él respondió: “Amarás al Señor tu Dios con todo tu corazón, y con toda tu alma, y con todas tus fuerzas, y con toda tu mente; y a tu prójimo como a ti mismo “.

Lucas 10:25b, 27


En medio de una crisis más allá de nuestra imaginación, es bueno volver a lo básico:

Ama a Dios | Ama a tu prójimo | Tu vivirás

Jesús no dice que si haces esto no obtendrás el “Coronavirus” o que si lo obtienes no morirás. Jesús dice que, pase lo que pase, si vives tu vida amando a Dios y a tu prójimo, experimentarás la bendición de vivir la vida en toda su plenitud. Esta es mi oración para todos los que tratamos de seguir los pasos de Jesús.

AMANDO A DIOS MIENTRAS PROTEGEMOS LA SALUD PÚBLICA

Suspensión de la adoración en persona y otras reuniones hasta el mes de abril
Como su obispa, estoy encargada de dirigir y supervisar los asuntos espirituales y temporales de la Iglesia Metodista Unida. Por el amor de Dios y de nuestros vecinos en todos los lugares, hoy dirijo la suspensión continua de la adoración en persona hasta el 30 de abril de 2020. Este comunicado es vigente para todas las Iglesias Metodistas Unidas en los estados de Alaska, Idaho, Oregón, Washington y en cualquier parte del área Episcopal del Gran Noroeste en donde sirve un clérigo Metodista bajo mi supervisión. Esta suspensión de adoración en persona incluye el Domingo de Ramos, Semana Santa y Pascua de Resurrección. Esto aplica tanto a la adoración interior y exterior, bodas, funerales y cualquier reunión durante los días de la semana. Por favor, continúe dirigiendo la adoración, estudio de la Biblia, grupos de oración y grupos de compañerismo si puede hacerlo virtualmente (en línea).

El virus se está propagando en todos los estados del país en un círculo vicioso e invisible. Cuando una persona se infecta, los síntomas no aparecen hasta por dos semanas. Si no siguen las pautas de higiene y distanciamiento social, expondrán a otros, que no mostrarán síntomas durante dos semanas, mientras que a su vez, estos expondrán a otros. Para detener la propagación del virus y evitar que los sistemas de atención médica se vean abrumados, cada uno de nosotros debe tomar precauciones para protegernos a nosotros mismos y a los demás como si estuviéramos portando el virus y como si las personas que nos rodean estén infectadas. Así es como nos amamos a nosotros mismos y a nuestros vecinos por ahora, sin importar dónde usted viva o si usted conoce a alguien que haya sido diagnosticado con el “Coronavirus”.

Semana Santa y Pascua de Resurrección
Para las iglesias que no pueden o deciden no dirigir la adoración de forma virtual, estoy trabajando con un equipo para producir un video que servirá de recurso para la adoración del Domingo de Pascua, el cual las iglesias locales podrán tener acceso en cualquier momento y en cualquier lugar si tienen servicio de “Internet”. Este recurso incluirá una variedad de voces, rostros y paisajes de varios lugares y personas del área noroeste. Motivamos a los grupos a organizar fiestas usando el “Facebook” para compartir la Pascua juntos / separados.

Comunión
Los obispos de la Jurisdicción occidental estarán emitiendo una carta sobre la celebración en línea, de la Sagrada Comunión para ser usada cuando no nos estamos “congregando en persona” para la adoración. Esta guía estará disponible mañana. ACTUALIZACIÓN – Lea la carta aquí.

Cierre de todas las facilidades de la Iglesia, excepto los servicios esenciales.
Todos los edificios de la Iglesia Metodista Unida y otras facilidades se cerrarán, a partir del 28 de marzo con referencia a todos los servicios, excepto los esenciales, y únicamente en la medida en que lo permitan las restricciones o consejos de los gobiernos estatales y locales. Estas prácticas de limpieza e higiene de protección son obligatorias para todos los servicios esenciales que se lleven a cabo en las facilidades de la Iglesia Metodista Unida:

  1. Limpie y desinfecte el edificio antes y después de cada uso.
  2. Distancia social de 6 pies entre los participantes.
  3. Lavarse las manos con agua y jabón o usar desinfectante para las manos.
  4. Toser y estornudar en pañuelos desechables y depositarlos en recipientes cerrados.

AMANDO A NUESTROS VECINOS

Dios ama a los fieles, para que los fieles puedan amar a los hijos de Dios mas vulnerables. Esta pandemia está poniendo a muchas personas en grave riesgo de enfermedad, aislamiento, hambre, desempleo, enfermedad mental. Proteger a las personas del virus es solo el comienzo. Nuestro llamado es para dar nuestras vidas en la formación de relaciones con personas pobres, sin hogar, marginadas, desempleadas, maltratadas, despreciadas y olvidadas. En cada lugar, le desafío a que piensen creativamente acerca de cómo su iglesia puede escuchar el lamento de los necesitados y puedan responder de maneras que ofrezcan dignidad, autodeterminación y esperanza. Pueden responder con tarjetas de regalo para supermercados, bancos de comida, tener voluntarios que hagan las compras y entreguen los alimentos a personas con condiciones vulnerables, hacer llamadas telefónicas, tener artículos de higiene para personas sin hogar. Si le preguntas a la gente de tu comunidad qué necesitan, ellos te lo dirán.

COMPARTIENDO LA CARGA EN CONEXIÓN

Sabemos que esta crisis creará dificultades para las iglesias locales. Los presupuestos de la iglesia se verán afectados a medida que las personas sean despedidas de sus trabajos, luchen por comprar alimentos y pagar el alquiler, y a la misma vez vean cómo se desploman sus ahorros para la jubilación. Los líderes de su conferencia planean reducir los ingresos en las iglesias locales y en el nivel de la conferencia. Mis prioridades, mientras hacemos ajustes son:

  1. Encontrar maneras de aliviar la carga sobre las iglesias locales,
  2. Protegiendo la seguridad de ingresos para el clero y el personal en nuestras iglesias y conferencias,
  3. Re-dirigir recursos para aliviar la tensión financiera entre los más vulnerables.

Reconocemos que los fondos ahorrados para un momento de necesidad son necesarios ahora. Esté atento a los planes concretos.

HAGAMOS UNA FECHA PERMANENTE …

Todos los miércoles por la mañana durante el mes de abril, el clero y los miembros laicos de la Conferencia Anual podrán unirse a un seminario web de Zoom conmigo y otros líderes de la conferencia a las 9:00 a.m. PDT (10 a.m. MDT, 8 a.m. AKDT). Si desea ser parte de estas reuniones, marque en su calendario para estar presente a esta hora todos los miércoles y esté atento a los enlaces.

Que Dios te bendiga y cuide de ti;
Que DIOS sea bondadoso contigo y te de Su gracia;
Que Dios te mire con favor y te dé paz.

Obispa Elaine JW Stanovsky

Bishop’s COVID-19 Notice #3, March 24, 2020

“Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” He answered, “ You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”

Luke 10:25b, 27


In the midst of a crisis beyond our imagination, it’s good to go back to basics:

Love God  |  Love your neighbor  |  You will live

Jesus doesn’t say that if you do this you will not get the Coronavirus or that if you get it you will not die. Jesus says that, no matter what happens, if you live your life in love with God and neighbor, you will experience the blessing of living life in all its fullness. I pray this for all of us who try to walk in Jesus’ footsteps.

LOVING GOD WHILE PROTECTING PUBLIC HEALTH

Suspension of In-person Worship and Other Gatherings through April
As your bishop, I am charged to lead and oversee the spiritual and temporal affairs of The United Methodist Church. For the love of God and of our neighbors in every place, today I am directing continued suspension of in-person worship through April 30, 2020. This directive is in effect for United Methodist Churches across the states of Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington and anywhere in the Greater Northwest Area served by United Methodist clergy under my supervision. This suspension of worship includes Palm Sunday, Holy Week and Easter. It applies to both indoor and outdoor worship, weddings and funerals and to all days of the week. Please continue to conduct worship, bible study, prayer groups, and fellowship groups if you can do so remotely.

The virus is spreading in every state in the country in an invisible, vicious cycle. When a person becomes infected, symptoms don’t appear for up to two weeks. If they don’t follow hygiene and social distancing guidelines, they will expose others, who won’t show symptoms for two weeks, while they, in turn, expose others. In order to slow the spread of the virus, and to protect health care systems from being overwhelmed, each of us must take precautions to protect ourselves and others as if we are carrying the virus ourselves and as if the people around us are infected. This is what loving ourselves and our neighbors looks like for the foreseeable future, no matter where you live or whether you know anyone who has been diagnosed with the Coronavirus.

Holy Week and Easter
For churches that are unable or choose not to lead worship remotely, I am working with a team to produce an Easter Sunday worship video resource that can be accessed by local churches at any time and in any place with internet service. It will include a variety of voices, faces, and landscapes from a wide variety of people and places across the greater northwest. We will encourage groups to organize watch parties on Facebook to share Easter together/apart.

Communion
The bishops in the Western Jurisdiction are issuing a letter regarding the online celebration of Holy Communion when we are not “congregating” for worship. This guidance will be available tomorrow. UPDATE – Read the letter here.

Closure of Church facilities to all except essential services
All United Methodist church buildings and other facilities are to be closed, effective March 28 to all but essential services and only to the extent allowed by state and local government restrictions or advice. Protective cleaning and hygiene practices are mandatory for all exempt essential services held in United Methodist facilities:  

  1. Sanitizing cleaning of the building before and after every use
  2. 6 feet social distance among participants 
  3. Hand washing with soap and water or hand sanitizer
  4. Coughing and sneezing into tissues which are discarded into closed containers

LOVING NEIGHBORS

God loves the faithful, so the faithful can love God’s vulnerable children. This pandemic is putting many people at dire risk of disease, isolation, hunger, unemployment, mental illness. Protecting people from the virus is just the beginning. Our calling is to form life-giving relationships with people who are poor, homeless, outcast, unemployed, abused, despised or forgotten. In every place, I challenge you to think creatively about how your church can hear the cries of the needy and respond in ways that offer dignity, self-determination, and hope. Gift cards to grocery stores, drive-through food pantries, volunteers to purchase and deliver food to people with compromising conditions, phone calls, hygiene kits for homeless. If you ask people in your community what they need, they will tell you.

SHARING THE BURDEN IN CONNECTION

We know that this crisis will create hardships for local churches. Church budgets will be strained as people are laid off from their jobs, struggle to buy food and pay rent, and watch their retirement savings plummet. Your conference leaders are planning for reduced income in local churches and at the conference level. My priorities, as we make adjustments are 

  1. Finding ways to lighten the burden on local churches,
  2. Protecting income security for clergy and staff in our churches and conferences,
  3. Re-directing resources to relieve financial strain among the most vulnerable 

We recognize that funds saved for a rainy day, are needed now. Watch for concrete plans.

LET’S MAKE IT A STANDING DATE…

Every Wednesday morning through April, clergy and lay members of the Annual Conference can join a Zoom webinar with me and other conference leaders at 9 am PDT (10 am MDT, 8 am AKDT). If you want to be part of these gatherings, mark your calendar now for this hour every Wednesday and watch for the links.

May God bless you and take care of you;
May the GOD be kind and gracious to you;
May God look on you with favor and give you peace.

Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky

Respuestas de nuestras Iglesias Locales al COVID-19

El pan de Dios es el que baja del cielo y da vida al mundo. John 6:33


Amigos y Colegas en Cristo, la gracia y la paz estén con ustedes mientras navegamos por las aguas inciertas y desconocidas del COVID-19 que cambian nuestras vidas.

USTEDES HAN SIDO INCREIBLES! Mientras navegaba por una variedad de experiencias de adoración en línea estos dos últimos domingos, observe personas cantando, orando y predicando con todo el corazón. Mi profundo agradecimiento a cada uno de ustedes que están intentando algo nuevo en respuesta a las circunstancias nuevas y desafiantes que vivimos.

Al mismo tiempo, sabemos que esto no va a funcionar para todas las personas ni para todos los lugares. No hay nada de malo si su iglesia decide enviar boletines y sermones impresos o si se une a otra iglesia para su culto en línea. Si intenta algo y no funciona, solicite ayuda o pruebe algo diferente. No hay una sola respuesta correcta para todas las circunstancias y capacidades de nuestras iglesias. Los líderes que se adaptan y no siguen a la multitud, usan los recursos que tienen (o pueden obtener) para atender las circunstancias que enfrentan.

Tu tienes muchas preguntas sin respuesta

Pascua de Resurrección. Usted quiere saber acerca de las celebraciones de Semana Santa y Pascua de Resurrección.  Les prometo que antes del martes 24 de marzo les informare si extenderé, enmendaré o levantaré la suspensión de la adoración en persona en nuestras iglesias. Cumpliré esa promesa.  Yo esperaba tener una decisión hoy, pero luego de consultar con otros líderes de la conferencia y asesores de la respuesta a esta crisis, voy a esperar para tomar una decisión final. Es probable que extienda la suspensión de la adoración hasta la Pascua de Resurrección, el 12 de abril de 2020 y tal vez más allá, así que prepárense para esta posibilidad. Estamos planeando ofrecer una alternativa en línea para la adoración local durante la Pascua de Resurrección en caso de que la adoración en persona continúe suspendida.

Conferencia general. Conferencias Anuales. Conferencia Jurisdiccional.

Ayer supimos que la Conferencia General de mayo se pospondrá. Los líderes del área del Gran Noroeste y la Jurisdicción Occidental están monitoreando de cerca las recomendaciones de las agencias de salud pública, ya que el bienestar de todos los participantes es nuestra mayor preocupación. Les informaré tan pronto se tomen decisiones acerca de la Conferencias Anual y Conferencia Jurisdiccional.

Finanzas. Sabemos que estamos en medio de un dramático descenso económico. No sabemos cuánto durará ni qué tan profundo será. Sabemos que ya algunos están experimentando pérdida de empleo e ingresos. También sabemos que algunas iglesias locales ya están experimentando ingresos bien reducidos. Los líderes de la conferencia ya están explorando formas en que podemos aliviar la presión sobre las iglesias locales, y formas en que podemos mantener las funciones esenciales de la conferencia durante este tiempo de escasez.

Trabajo con el Espíritu y el Alma: Cuidar nuestras relaciones personales, nuestro espíritu así también como nuestros cuerpos.

Sabemos que los seres humanos somos vulnerables a la inseguridad y al aislamiento, de la misma manera que somos vulnerables a este virus.  Comparto con ustedes sus inquietudes acerca de cuán dañino puede ser el miedo, la escasez y el aislamiento al momento de tratar de mantener un equilibrio entre 1) proteger y preservar la salud física y 2) la preocupación por la salud espiritual y el como fomentar el nutrir nuestras relaciones personales. En el mejor de los casos, vemos, atendemos e invitamos a la integridad de las personas a las que servimos para que estén presentes en la adoración, en la oración, en la vida de la Iglesia. Pero también sabemos que no estamos realmente completos por teléfono, ni en línea, ni con 6 pies de separación.

Pero nos preguntamos; ¿Cómo profundizamos nuestra confianza en Dios, en los demás y cultivamos la interacción humana mientras practicamos distancias seguras entre nosotros? Un pastor cambio la manera de decir  “distancia social” por “distancia física”, enfatizando la importancia de acercarse socialmente, a pesar de la distancia física. Esto un desafío. Pero no es imposible. Sé que estás alcanzando un buen nivel compartiendo ideas creativas: desde la adoración en línea hasta la manera en que compartes las despensas de alimentos y las reuniones de oración para tu comunidad.

¿Qué esperanza nos ofrece Dios?

Su fe en Dios debería ser un recurso para usted en estos tiempos.

El COVID-19 está causando cambios amplios a largo plazo en nuestra vida cotidiana y en toda la raza humana, a nivel mundial. Experimentamos los efectos en nuestra vida diaria: anaqueles en las tiendas vacíos, actividades restringidas y una conciencia inusual de cada estornudo, picor en la garganta y la tos matutina. ¿Cuántos perderán sus trabajos? Casas? Pensiones? ¿Cómo vamos a comer? Nos preocupamos por nuestros padres, abuelos e hijos. Algunas familias viven en un contacto más estrecho de lo habitual y experimentan lo positivo o negativo de una comunidad cercana.

La Biblia reconoce que la vida viene con bendiciones y dificultades. Tiempos de abundancia y tiempos de escasez. Y la Biblia también nos muestra que las malas noticias no son la última palabra. Estamos viviendo en un mundo imperfecto, incierto, peligroso y desconcertante, el mismo mundo que Dios describe en la Biblia.

Como cristianos, tenemos una relación con nuestro Salvador que consuela a los afligidos, rescata a los que perecen, y recibe a los extranjeros. Lo conocemos como un ser humano que vivió en este mundo de miseria, y se desvivió para alcanzar todos los grupos sociales.  Lo conocemos como Dios entre nosotros. Y Jesús nos invita a ser socios de la gracia salvadora de Dios al estar con otros. Jesús conoce nuestra fuerza mejor que nosotros. Escucha la voz del Salvador, que te dice que tu estás viviendo un momento de prueba. Lo puedo ver!. No estoy causando esta enfermedad!. Esto es parte de un mundo imperfecto. Estoy contigo!, llevándote a ser una bendición en este mundo de dolor.

Te estoy pidiendo que no compartas Comunión por un tiempo. Pero no olvides el pan y la copa. La vida de Jesús, dada por ti. El amor derramado por ti. Jesús dice: este soy yo: mi cuerpo, mi sangre. La Copa de Salvación. No necesitas los símbolos para experimentar la presencia real de Dios. Recuerda el amor de Dios por ti. Dios nos pone en este mundo para amarnos unos a otros.

Nada puede separarnos del amor de Dios en Jesucristo. La gracia del Señor Jesucristo, el amor de Dios y la comunión del Espíritu Santo sean con todos ustedes.

Obispa Elaine JW Stanovsky

Bishop’s COVID-19 Notice #2, March 19, 2020

For the bread of God… comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. John 6:33


Friends and Colleagues in Christ, grace and peace be with you as we navigate the life-changing and uncertain waters of COVID-19.

YOU HAVE BEEN AMAZING! As I surfed a variety of online worship experiences these last two Sundays, I saw people singing, praying and preaching their hearts out. My deep gratitude to each of you who is trying something new in response to new and challenging circumstances.

At the same time, we know this isn’t going to work for everyone or every place. There’s nothing wrong if your church decides to send out printed bulletins and sermons or joins another church for its online worship. If you try something and it doesn’t work, ask for help or try something different. There isn’t one right answer for all the circumstances and capacities of our churches. Adaptive leaders don’t follow the crowd, they use the resources they have (or can get) to address the circumstance they face.

You have a lot of Unanswered Questions

Easter. You want to know about Holy Week and Easter observances. I promised I’d let you know by Tuesday, March 24 whether I will extend, amend or lift the suspension of in-person worship in our churches. I will keep that promise. I hoped to have a decision today, but in consultation with other conference leaders and crisis response advisors, I am waiting to make a final decision. It is likely that I will extend the suspension of worship through at least Easter, April 12, 2020 and perhaps beyond, so be prepared for this possibility. We are planning to offer an online alternative to local worship on Easter in case in-person worship continues to be suspended.

General Conference. Annual Conferences. Jurisdictional Conference.

We learned yesterday that May’s General Conference will be postponed. Leaders across the Greater Northwest Area, and the Western Jurisdiction, are closely monitoring the recommendations of public health agencies, with the wellbeing of potential participants our utmost concern. I’ll let you know as soon as decisions are made about Annual and Jurisdictional Conferences.

Finances. We know that we are in the midst of a dramatic economic downturn. We don’t know how long it will last, or how deep it will crash. We know that others are experiencing loss of employment or income. We do know that some local churches are already experiencing reduced income. Your conference leaders are exploring ways we can relieve pressure on local churches, and ways in which we can sustain essential conference functions through this time of scarcity.

SOUL WORK: Caring for relationships and spirits as well as bodies.

We know that human beings are vulnerable to insecurity and isolation as well as to the virus. I share your concerns about how damaging fear, scarcity and isolation can be toward maintaining a balance between 1) protecting and preserving physical health and 2) concern for spiritual health and nurturing relationships. At our best, we see and tend and invite the wholeness of the persons we serve to show up in worship, in prayer, in play – in Church. And we know we aren’t really whole on the phone, or online, or with 6 feet of separation.

How do we deepen our confidence in God and each other and cultivate human community while practicing safe distances from each other? One pastor shifted from saying “social distance” to “physical distance,” emphasizing the importance of drawing near to one another socially, despite physical distance. It’s a challenge. But it’s not impossible. I know you are rising to it and sharing creative ideas: from online worship to drive-up food pantries and parking-lot meet ups for neighborhood prayers.

What hope does God offer?

Your faith in God should be a resource for you in these times.

COVID-19 is causing far-reaching, long-term changes in our daily lives and in the human race, globally. We experience the effects in our daily lives: empty store shelves, restricted activities, unusual awareness of every sneeze, throat tickle, morning cough.  How many will lose their jobs? Homes? Pensions? How will we eat? We worry for our parents, grandparents, children. Some families are living in tighter contact than usual and experiencing both the blessings and curses of close community.

The Bible acknowledges that life comes with blessings and curses.  Full times and lean times. And the Bible also shows us that bad news isn’t the final word. We are living in the imperfect, uncertain, dangerous, perplexing world God reveals in the Bible.

As Christians, we have a relationship with a Savior who comforts the afflicted, rescues the perishing and welcomes strangers.  We know him as a man who lived in a world of human misery, and he went out of his way to reach out across social distances of every kind. We know him as God-with-us. And Jesus invites us to be partners in God’s saving grace by being with others. Jesus knows our strength better than we do. Listen for the voice of the Savior, saying, you are living through a time of trial. I see you. I am not causing this disease. It is part of an imperfect world. I am with you, leading you to be a blessing in a world of hurt.

I’ve asked you not to share Communion for a while. But don’t forget the bread and the cup. Life, given for you. Love, poured out for you. Jesus says, this is me: my body my blood. Cup of Salvation. You don’t need the symbols to experience God’s real presence. Remember God’s love for you. God puts you in the world to love one another.

Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ.The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.

Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky

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