Author: Elaine Stanovsky

Preface to COVID-19 Notice # 9, October 23, 2020

Preface to COVID-19 Notice # 9

October 23, 2020

Next week I hope to issue COVID-19 Notice #9. Today I’ll set the stage, and invite you to pray and study with me about the wilderness we find ourselves in. 


Headline: yesterday reported the highest number of new COVID-19 cases in the United States since the beginning of the pandemic. By the end of February, COVID-19 deaths are projected to double to 500,000[i] – about equal to the US death toll from World War II, the Korean and Vietnam Wars combined. Cases have been on the rise in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington states since early September. 


Snow fell overnight and has turned to rain at our house in the Cascade mountains. By the winter solstice, Nome, Alaska, will see fewer than 4 hours of sunlight; Boise, Idaho, about 9 hours; most of Washington and Oregon about 8.5 hours. Temperatures are falling, and many days are overcast and rainy or snowy. Winter is coming to the Northwest, driving many people indoors and inward with depression. 

WE, THE PEOPLE are living with a deadly virus, churches closed to most gatherings, virtual school and work from home, financial insecurity and job loss, rising domestic violence, addiction, suicide and national political unrest. People are crying out to meet in person for worship. We, the people live at the intersection of conflicting values: protection from the virus vs. emotional/spiritual/mental health and personal freedom. 


God sees the headlines and aches for each and every life that is taken by the virus, for all the exhausted workers, stretching to meet every need. 

God sees the darkening moods, and the shortened tempers that come with the changing seasons.

God feels the fatigue as days become weeks and months and nearly a whole year.

God knows the hunger in our hearts to be together, share a long-delayed hug and sing aloud and together the songs of faith:

  • I’ll praise my maker while I’ve breath…
  • Cantemos al Señor…
  • O, for a thousand tongues to sing…
  • I’m gonna sing when the Spirit says sing…
  • How can I keep from singing?…

I’m asking how God would have me lead in this moment and I invite you to join me in study and prayer so that you know what informs me as I prepare COVID-Notice #9. 

  1. This week I find the latest COVID-19 statistics for your county at by clicking on the map of your state and then selecting your county. See for yourself how the virus is affecting your county:
    1. What is the risk of COVID outbreak in your State? How does the risk level compare to a neighboring state?
    2. Now, select your county from the list on the state page. What is the risk of COVID outbreak in your county? How does it compare to the whole state?
    3. How many cases of COVID are reported per 100,000 people in the county?
    4. Are the number of cases in the county rising or falling?
    5. How do the number of cases today compare to the number in April or July?
    6. What is the infection rate in your county? How does it compare to the infection rate for the whole state? Is it about 1% or less, indicating slow spread?
  2. Pray that God will show us what it means to love God with our whole hearts, minds, souls and strength and our neighbors as ourselves during these unpredictable days.
  3. By November 1, watch for new guidance about how United Methodists will continue to adapt to the challenges we face.

In prayerful reflection,

Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky
Greater NW Episcopal Area

Next week I hope to issue COVID-19 Notice #9. Today I’ll set the stage, and invite you to pray and study with me about the wilderness we find ourselves in. 


Headline: yesterday reported the highest number of new COVID-19 cases in the United States since the beginning of the pandemic. By the end of February, COVID-19 deaths are projected to double to 500,000[i] – about equal to the US death toll from World War II, the Korean and Vietnam Wars combined. Cases have been on the rise in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington states since early September. 


Snow fell overnight and has turned to rain at our house in the Cascade mountains. By the winter solstice, Nome, Alaska, will see fewer than 4 hours of sunlight; Boise, Idaho, about 9 hours; most of Washington and Oregon about 8.5 hours. Temperatures are falling, and many days are overcast and rainy or snowy. Winter is coming to the Northwest, driving many people indoors and inward with depression. 

WE, THE PEOPLE are living with a deadly virus, churches closed to most gatherings, virtual school and work from home, financial insecurity and job loss, rising domestic violence, addiction, suicide and national political unrest. People are crying out to meet in person for worship. We, the people live at the intersection of conflicting values: protection from the virus vs. emotional/spiritual/mental health and personal freedom. 


God sees the headlines and aches for each and every life that is taken by the virus, for all the exhausted workers, stretching to meet every need. 

God sees the darkening moods, and the shortened tempers that come with the changing seasons.

God feels the fatigue as days become weeks and months and nearly a whole year.

God knows the hunger in our hearts to be together, share a long-delayed hug and sing aloud and together the songs of faith:

  • I’ll praise my maker while I’ve breath…
  • Cantemos al Señor…
  • O, for a thousand tongues to sing…
  • I’m gonna sing when the Spirit says sing…
  • How can I keep from singing?…

I’m asking how God would have me lead in this moment and I invite you to join me in study and prayer so that you know what informs me as I prepare COVID-Notice #9. 

  1. This week I find the latest COVID-19 statistics for your county at by clicking on the map of your state and then selecting your county. See for yourself how the virus is affecting your county:
    1. What is the risk of COVID outbreak in your State? How does the risk level compare to a neighboring state?
    2. Now, select your county from the list on the state page. What is the risk of COVID outbreak in your county? How does it compare to the whole state?
    3. How many cases of COVID are reported per 100,000 people in the county?
    4. Are the number of cases in the county rising or falling?
    5. How do the number of cases today compare to the number in April or July?
    6. What is the infection rate in your county? How does it compare to the infection rate for the whole state? Is it about 1% or less, indicating slow spread?
  2. Pray that God will show us what it means to love God with our whole hearts, minds, souls and strength and our neighbors as ourselves during these unpredictable days.
  3. By November 1, watch for new guidance about how United Methodists will continue to adapt to the challenges we face.

In prayerful reflection,

Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky
Greater NW Episcopal Area

Respuesta a los incendios forestales en el gran área del noroeste

Respuesta a los incendios forestales en el gran área del noroeste

Amigos en el gran área del noroeste,

Los líderes metodistas unidos de toda nuestra área se han reunido para monitorear y responder a los incendios forestales que asolan nuestra tierra y amenazan a muchas comunidades en Idaho, Oregon y Washington. Personas en muchas áreas han sido evacuadas o se están preparando para ser evacuadas de sus hogares.

Si usted no está en peligro inmediato, puede ser que este experimentando como muchos otros, que ven y prueban estos incendios forestales en cielos llenos de humo y con cada respiración que tomamos.

Las personas de fe quieren hacer el bien frente al peligro, pero debemos trabajar para asegurarnos de que el bien que pretendemos hacer no haga daño accidentalmente. Debido a las evacuaciones masivas que se están emitiendo en todos nuestros estados, y debido a que nuestras iglesias y entornos ministeriales están comprometidos a no hacer daño, hacer el bien y permanecer en el amor de Dios, se ha agregado un apéndice a las pautas de Re-imaginando la vida juntos para nuestras iglesias y entornos ministeriales para guiar nuestra respuestas metodistas unidas a la crisis del incendio forestal.

Mientras buscamos responder a estos incendios forestales, reconozco cuán cansados ​​están todos en este momento por tantas demandas, además del coronavirus, además del desmantelamiento del racismo, además de la escalada del partidismo que está erosionando nuestra capacidad de trabajar juntos por el bien común. Increíbles equipos de respuesta a desastres en el gran área del noroeste actúan como las manos y los pies de Jesús en las comunidades de toda el área y en conjunto con las iglesias locales. Cuando ocurre un desastre, los sobrevivientes a menudo pierden mucho: el techo de sus casas y otras propiedades, medios de vida, incluso sus seres queridos. Estos incendios forestales muestran cuán devastadores pueden ser estos desastres. Sin embargo, este año parece ser que enfrentamos una crisis detrás de la otra.

Y entonces, clamamos a Dios, buscando misericordia. Buscando alivio. Buscando solo un día en el que no sintamos el peligro en nuestras manos y no sentirnos como que el peso del mundo esté sobre cada uno de nuestros hombros.

APENDICE PARA EL DOCUMENTO: RE-IMAGINANDO LA VIDA JUNTOS para el alivio de incendios forestales del noroeste de 2020

Efectivo desde el 11 de septiembre de 2020

Solo para “Wildfire Relief” (Alivio de Incendios Forestales), este apéndice reemplaza la guía de respuesta ante desastres en el documento Re-imaginando.

Todos los ministerios que planean brindar ayuda y apoyo en sus comunidades trabajarán con el superintendente de distrito (iglesias locales) o el director de ministerios conexionales (otros entornos ministeriales) para discutir la necesidad de la comunidad y solicitar la ayuda de autoridades del gobierno local y alguna otra respuesta ante los desastres de agencias (como la Cruz Roja) para el apoyo y ayuda durante este proceso.  Los Superintendentes de Distrito o Directores del Ministerios Conexionales deben aprobar los planes para usar las instalaciones (Edificios) de la iglesia para actividades de apoyo a los incendios forestales.

Únase a mí para orar por la seguridad de nuestros amigos, vecinos y por aquellos que ya han sufrido pérdidas de vidas. Únase a mí para orar por los socorristas y los bomberos forestales que se ponen en peligro para ayudar a otros a buscar refugio, salvar hogares y propiedades. Únase a mí para orar por la creación de Dios, para que podamos atenderla con más cuidado.

Únase a mí, también, en un llamado a la acción a través de nuestras donaciones de recursos financieros. Sabemos que algunas de nuestras comunidades ya han sido afectadas por el fuego y sabemos que hay otras en peligro potencial.

Estoy agradecida al informar que las conferencias del “Pacific Northwest y Oregon-Idaho” han recibido cada una ayuda de emergencia de $ 10,000 del Comité Metodista Unido (UMCOR) para apoyar los esfuerzos de respuesta en nuestras comunidades. Pero esto es solo una gota en el cubo de lo que se necesitará.

Donacion electrónicamente, al Fondo de Desastres de la Conferencia de Oregón-Idaho

También puede donar al Fondo para Desastres de la Conferencia OR-ID (Fondo # 260) a través de su iglesia local o enviando un cheque a nombre de la Oficina Tesoreria de la Conferencia de Oregon-Idaho con el Avance de la Conferencia # 260 en la línea de memo a:

Centro de conferencias anual de Oregon-Idaho
c/o Tesorero de la conferencia
1505 SW 18th Avenue
Portland, Oregón, 97201-2524

Donacion electrónicamente al Fondo de Desastres de la Conferencia PNW

También puede dar el Fondo para Desastres de la Conferencia de PNW (Fondo # 352) a través de su iglesia local o enviando un cheque a nombre de la oficina del Tesorero de la Conferencia de PNW con el  # 352 en la línea de memo a:

Oficina de conferencias del noroeste del Pacífico
c/o Tesorero de la conferencia
PO Box 13650
Des Moines, WA 98198

Finalmente, líderes de la iglesia local, por favor manténgase en contacto con los superintendentes de distrito si su comunidad se ve afectada por un incendio forestal. Hágale saber a su superintendente lo que está sucediendo en su comunidad y lo que su iglesia está haciendo, o se le ha pedido que haga, en respuesta. Su superintendente coordinará con el coordinador de respuesta a desastres de la conferencia para ayudarlo a respaldar su trabajo durante esta crisis.

Manténganse a salvo, mis amigos, y conozcan el amor inquebrantable de Dios cada día.

Obispa Elaine JW Stanovsky
Área episcopal del noroeste


Translated and Adapted by/Traducido y Adaptado por: Rev. Cruz Edwin Santos, Director of Hispanic/Latinx Ministry

Responding to Wildfires across the Greater Northwest Area

Responding to Wildfires across the Greater Northwest Area

Friends in the Greater Northwest Area,

United Methodist leaders from across our area have been meeting to monitor and respond to the wildfires ravaging our land and threatening many communities across Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. People in many areas have evacuated or are preparing to evacuate from their homes. If you are not in immediate danger, you may be like many ­others who see and taste these wildfires in smoke-filled skies and with every breath we take.

People of faith want to do good in the face of danger, but we need to work to ensure that the good we intend does not accidentally do harm. Because of the massive evacuations being issued across our states, and because our churches and ministry settings are committed to doing no harm, doing good, and staying in love with God, an addendum has been added to the Reimagining Life Together guidelines for our church and ministry settings to guide United Methodist responses to the wild fire crisis.

As we seek to respond to these wildfires, I acknowledge how weary everyone is right now from these demands, on top of coronavirus, on top of dismantling racism, on top of escalating partisanship that is eroding our ability to work together for the common good. Amazing disaster response teams in the Greater Northwest Area act as the hands and feet of Jesus in communities across the area and in partnership with local churches. When a disaster strikes, survivors often lose so much – the roof over their heads and other property, livelihoods, even loved ones. These wildfires show how devastating these disasters can be. Yet this year it seems like one crisis erupts on top of the next.

And so, we call out to God, seeking mercy. Seeking relief. Seeking just one day when we do not feel danger near at hand and it doesn’t feel like the weight of the world is on each of our shoulders.

ADDENDUM to Reimagining Life Together for 2020 Northwest Wildfire Relief

Effective September 11, 2020

For Wildfire Relief only, this addendum supersedes the Disaster Response guidance in the Reimagining document.

Ministry settings planning to provide relief support in their communities will work with their District Superintendent (local churches) or Director of Connectional Ministries (other ministry settings) to discuss the community need and the request from a local government authority and/or established disaster response agencies (such as the Red Cross) for relief support.  District Superintendents or Directors of Connectional Ministry must approve plans to use church facilities for wildfire relief support activities.

Join me in praying for the safety of our friends and neighbors and for those who have already suffered loss of life. Join me in praying for the first responders and wild land firefighters putting themselves in harm’s way to help others seek shelter, save homes and property. Join me in praying for God’s good creation, that we may tend to her more carefully.

Join me, also, in a call to action through our gifts of financial resources. We know some of our communities have already been decimated by fire and know there are others in potential danger.

I am grateful to report that the Pacific Northwest and Oregon-Idaho Conferences have each received emergency grants of $10,000 from the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) to support response efforts. But it’s just a drop in the bucket of what will be needed.

In the Oregon-Idaho Conference, you can give online to the Conference Disaster Response Fund.

Give Online to OR-ID Disaster Response Fund

You can also give to the OR-ID Conference’s Disaster Response Fund (Fund #260) through your local church or by sending a check made out to the Oregon-Idaho Conference Treasurer with Conference Advance #260 on the memo line to:

Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference Center
℅ Conference Treasurer
1505 SW 18th Avenue
Portland, Oregon, 97201-2524

In the Pacific Northwest Conference, you can give online to the Conference Disaster Response Fund.

Give Online to PNW Disaster Response Fund

You can also give PNW Conference’s Disaster Response Fund (Advance #352) through your local church or by sending a check made out to the PNW Conference Treasurer with Conference Advance #352 on the memo line to:

Pacific Northwest Conference Office
℅ Conference Treasurer
P.O. Box 13650
Des Moines, WA 98198 

Finally, local church leaders, please stay in touch with your District Superintendents if your community is impacted by wildfire. Let your superintendent know what is going on in your community and what your church is doing – or has been asked to do – in response. Your superintendent will coordinate with the conference disaster response coordinator to help support your work during this crisis.

Stay safe my friends, and know the steadfast love of God each day.

Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky
Greater Northwest Episcopal Area

Discurso episcopal Parte II

Convirtiéndonos en anti-racistas: desmantelando el racismo

Discurso episcopal Parte II (Parte I) | 8 de septiembre de 2020

En fidelidad al modelo de inclusividad de Jesús sobre el amor y la justicia, como obispa del Gran Área del Noroeste de la Iglesia Metodista Unida, estoy comprometida a liderar a los Metodistas Unidos en la Conferencia de Alaska, la Conferencia de Oregón-Idaho y la Conferencia del Noroeste del Pacífico para desmantelar el racismo sistémico en la iglesia y en toda la sociedad como una prioridad misional de largo alcance.

El Pecado Original es tomar lo que no es tuyo.

Después de estudiar las Escrituras y observar cómo las personas abusan de su poder de muchas maneras ingeniosas, he llegado a creer que el pecado original es tomar lo que no es tuyo. Piense en Adán y Eva en el jardín con abundantes alimentos, animales y plantas, proporcionados por un Creador generoso. Buen clima. Buena compañía. Y todo lo que Dios les pide es que no toquen un árbol. Tu puedes tenerlo todo. Disfruta de todo en este jardín, pero no comas la fruta de este árbol. Pero no pudieron resistir la tentación. Tomaron la fruta que no era de ellos y se la comieron.  

Con este pequeño acto, se rompió todo el equilibrio entre el creador y las criaturas humanas.

Tomar lo que no es tuyo no es solo el pecado original, es un pecado impregnado en toda la familia humana. ¿Qué crees que es la violación o el tráfico sexual, es sino una invasión de los derechos sobre el cuerpo, la privacidad y la autonomía de otra persona?

¿Cuál es la negativa a reconocer el autoconocimiento y la identificación de una persona como LGBTQ? ¿El abuso infantil no le roba al niño/a la inocencia, la confianza y la seguridad? ¿Qué es la confiscación y expulsión de los nativos americanos de sus tierras ancestrales y la represión de sus idiomas y culturas, sino una toma de lo que no es tuyo?  El internamiento de japoneses estadounidenses durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial. Invasiones y ocupaciones armadas. Piense en la separación de los niños/as de sus padres en la frontera entre Estados Unidos y México. Los empleadores que toman cruelmente la salud de los trabajadores al exponerlos a pesticidas, polvo de carbón o COVID-19. Los seres humanos son astutos en la forma en que se niegan unos a otros la plenitud de la vida que Jesús vino a darnos para que la disfrutemos (Juan 10:10).  Lo que pasa con el pecado original es que es difícil renunciar al dulce sabor de la manzana robada.

Hoy quiero hablar con ustedes sobre el pecado original de la esclavitud y su legado perdurable de racismo, especialmente, aunque no exclusivamente, el racismo anti-negro en Estados Unidos.

Una palabra profética para mis hermanos que son victimas del racismo sistémico

Isaías 54

11 ¡Oh, afligido, azotado por la tormenta y no consolado,….
13 Todos tus hijos serán enseñados por el Señor,
    y grande será la prosperidad de tus hijos.
14 En justicia serás establecido;
    estarás lejos de la opresión, y nada tendrás que temer;
    y el terror se apartara de ti, porque no se acercará a ti.
15 Si alguno suscita contiendas,
    no ser de mi parte;
    el que suscita contiendas contigo
    caerá ante ti….
17 Ningún arma que se forme contra ti prosperará,
    y refutarás toda lengua que se levante contra ti en juicio.
    Esta es la herencia de los siervos del Señor
    y su reivindicación de mí, dice el Señor.

Amigos, les hablo primero a ustedes que sufren a manos de los opresores, a ustedes, a quienes no se les ha mostrado dignidad y respeto, ni se les han otorgado los derechos que Dios soplo a cada miembro de la familia humana en la creación.

Me dirijo, en particular, a aquellos que llevan la carga acumulada de siglos – generaciones – de supremacía blanca, y que diariamente sienten la mirada de la desconfianza, la sospecha, la acusación, la exclusión, el odio, el rechazo.

Estoy aprendiendo a escuchar y ver que en Estados Unidos, los sistemas que llamamos iguales, justos y equitativos – igualdad de oportunidades, justicia penal, vivienda justa – tienen injusticias y prejuicios incorporados. Estoy aprendiendo a escuchar y ver que el prejuicio racial implícito, [i] omnipresente entre la gente blanca en Estados Unidos, asegura que la policía blanca, maestros, jueces, oficiales de libertad condicional, congresistas, funcionarios electorales, asistentes de estacionamientos, vecinos y extraños lleven a cabo su trabajo y vidas con sospecha de las personas de color y con una preferencia que no es favor de los pobres y marginados, sino por los blancos. Esto es lo que se llama privilegio blanco.

Estoy aprendiendo a oír y ver que durante más de 500 años, la iglesia cristiana ha concedido a los exploradores europeos permiso para “invadir, buscar, capturar, vencer y someter” a todos los musulmanes, paganos y enemigos de Cristo, “los reinos, los duques”. , principados, dominios, posesiones y todos los bienes muebles e inmuebles que posean para reducir a sus personas a la esclavitud perpetua … y convertirlos para su uso y beneficio ”. [ii]

Estoy aprendiendo cómo en Estados Unidos, la esclavitud de los cuerpos negros no terminó con la abolición de la esclavitud y la emancipación de las personas esclavizadas, sino que la esclavitud continuó a través de la segregación de Jim Crow y la negación del voto a los ciudadanos negros. Cuando las Leyes de Derechos Civiles y Derecho al Voto desmantelaron la segregación de Jim Crow en la década de 1960, no se erradicó el control de los cuerpos y las vidas de los negros, se incrustó en otros lugares: la Guerra contra las Drogas, detención, registro, arrestos desproporcionados, condenas de negros ciudadanos, especialmente hombres, y en la negación de acceso a programas de asistencia pública, y el derecho a votar o servir en un jurado para delincuentes condenados. [iii]

Los teléfonos inteligentes y las redes sociales han abierto una ventana a la opresión racial en Estados Unidos; que había sido negada, ocultada e ignorada durante generaciones.

Recuerdo y vuelvo a decir sus nombres: Trayvon Martin, Walter Scott, Michael Brown, Philando Castile, Freddy Gray, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland y muchos más que nunca llegaron a los titulares. Los desesperados últimos suspiros de George Floyd, grabados en video, y la implacable crueldad del oficial de la ley que le quitó la vida cuentan una historia innegable.  Ocho minutos y 46 segundos; cuando la rodilla del oficial presionó el cuello de George Floyd contra el pavimento, hubo mucho tiempo para que el oficial se detuviera, pensara y reevaluara la situación. Era tiempo suficiente para reconocer que el Sr. Floyd no era una amenaza para él, para reconocer que la presunta ofensa era una insignificancia comparada con la sentencia de muerte que el oficial ejecutó – mucho tiempo para escuchar la voz de Dios, y las voces de los transeúntes gritando: ” ¡DETENENTE! Este es mi hijo amado. Lo estás matando “. Y Ahmaud Arbery, perseguido por hombres que tenían un plan, lo acecharon y lo mataron. Rayshard Brooks, asesinado a tiros por la policía en un drive-thru de Wendy’s. Breonna Taylor, en su propia casa durmiendo. Jacob Blake, siete disparos por la espalda. Su disparo fue seguido unos días después por un justiciero blanco, armado con un arma semiautomática, que disparó y mató a dos manifestantes e hirió a un tercero. Que regresó a casa sin haber sido confrontado ni interrogado por la policía.

Una palabra profética para mis hermanos blancos

Isaías 55

6 Busquen al Señor mientras pueda ser hallado,
    llámalo mientras está cerca;
7 Dejen los impíos su camino,
    y los injustos sus pensamientos;
    que se vuelvan al Señor, para que él tenga misericordia de ellos,
    y a nuestro Dios, el cual será amplio en perdonar.
8 Porque mis pensamientos no son los tuyos,
    ni tus caminos son los míos, dice el Señor.
9 Porque así como los cielos son más altos que la tierra,
    así son mis caminos más altos que los tuyos
    y mis pensamientos que los tuyos.

Dios miró al pueblo escogido de Dios y vio su pecado. Lo nombró y los llamó a rendir cuentas. Mientras leo este pasaje, escucho la voz de Dios hablando a los estadounidenses de la cultura dominante y a mí en esta temporada de levantamiento contra el racismo, diciendo: “Mis pensamientos no son tus pensamientos. Mis caminos no son los tuyos “.

Lo torcido se enderezará y los caminos ásperos se allanaran (Lucas 3: 5). Deja el camino torcido que has recorrido todos estos años. Esto es una carga severa. Es difícil mirar hacia atrás a su vida, a las enseñanzas de su familia, escuela, iglesia y decir: “Espera un minuto. Quizás nos hemos equivocado en esto. Quizás necesitemos mirar de nuevo, pensar de nuevo, escuchar de nuevo. Tal vez la forma en que se ha ordenado nuestro mundo, todas las cosas que damos por sentado no están bien.

Estoy aprendiendo a escuchar y ver que los estándares, normas y hábitos que me enseñaron a valorar no son universalmente compartidos por todas las personas de todas las culturas.  Lentamente, estoy aprendiendo que como líder, si simplemente, inconscientemente, dirijo de acuerdo con las normas culturales que son naturales para mí, inadvertidamente, inconscientemente perpetuaré formas de trabajar y relacionarme que no funcionan para muchos de sus miembros. Y continúo prácticas que silencian los dones, las percepciones y la sabiduría de personas criadas en diferentes contextos culturales. Estoy aprendiendo a reconocer que los blancos y los negros no comparten las mismas experiencias de vida o la misma memoria generacional e interpretación de la historia. Estas diferencias significan que vemos las formas del mundo que compartimos de manera muy diferente. Y cuando escucho a alguien decir algo desde una perspectiva diferente que no tiene sentido para mí y es contrario a cómo siempre lo he pensado, tal vez quiera decir, “¡eso es ridículo!” “Estás loco.” “Déjame mostrarte en qué estás equivocado”. “El mundo simplemente no funciona de esa manera, ¡no puede funcionar de esa manera!” “Déjame enseñarte de la manera correcta”.

Ve, hasta que aprenda a tener oídos para oír, no puedo ver más allá de mi propia perspectiva cultural. Esto es lo que se llama normatividad cultural. [iv]

Un momento revelador

Una noche, tarde, me encontré viajando en un automóvil que le habían pedido prestado a un amigo nativo americano, que se lo había pedido prestado a un pariente.  El conductor era un colega negro con una mujer blanca rubia en el asiento del pasajero. Me senté con un joven filipino y un joven hispano gay en la parte de atrás. En una carretera rural oscura y remota de Oklahoma, nos detuvieron por una luz de la parte de atrás del carro que estaba rota. Ninguno de nosotros era de Oklahoma. Ni siquiera dos de nosotros éramos del mismo estado. No sabíamos el nombre de la persona de la cual estaba registrado el automóvil. En ese momento, experimenté algo de lo que no sabía nada: conducir cuando eres negro. Nuestro entrenamiento de conducción repentinamente serio y atento se puso en marcha:

  • Sea callado y respetuoso
  • Nadie habla excepto yo
  • No actúes. Nada de bromas
  • Sin movimientos rápidos

No pasó nada malo esa noche, pero era fácil ver cómo podría haber sucedido, si el registro del automóvil o la licencia de conducir habían expirado, si había una multa de estacionamiento sin pagar o no había varios clérigos en el automóvil. Supongamos que nuestro conductor hubiera estado solo en el coche. Supongamos que el oficial hubiera estado de mal humor. ¿Quién hubiera sabido y dicho la verdad? Nunca dudaré del peligro real y el miedo de conducir mientras eres de la raza negra.

Sin los videos, las inaceptables acciones policiales que presenciamos en ciudades de todo Estados Unidos nunca hubieran visto la luz del día. Se habría tejido una historia que “justificaba” acciones policiales injustificables:

  • el sospechoso estaba amenazando
  • la policía actuó en defensa propia o pensó que había un arma
  • la evidencia se pierde, se manipula o se suprime
  • los testigos no son creíbles
  • o simplemente no se presentan a testificar

Debido a que los teléfonos inteligentes se han convertido en algo común, las personas pueden arrojar luz sobre un patrón de abuso de poder que no se ha reconocido ni abordado durante demasiado tiempo. El racismo endémico y sistémico ahora se enfrenta a los estadounidenses blancos que han podido fingir que no existía o que lo han tratado de explicar.

Este año, en esta temporada, mientras vemos protestas que continúan después de cuatro meses, cada uno de nosotros tiene que decidir si prestar atención a la evidencia y reevaluar si el racismo está vivo y coleando en nuestro mundo, o si continuaremos engañándonos al negar la evidencia.

¿Continuaremos minimizando el papel del racismo en los eventos que vemos y adoptaremos teorías de conspiración que nos protegen de tener que enfrentar un pecado duro y profundo en nuestra sociedad?

Por eso les hablo de esto hoy. Estados Unidos se ha roto desde que se podía ganar dinero secuestrando, encarcelando, enviando como cargamento a través del océano y literalmente entregando desde África cuerpos negros al nuevo mundo, llevando africanos, para venderlos a los que los esclavizaban para que construyeran la nación más rica del mundo a sus espaldas. Y todos estos años después, las profundas heridas causadas por ese pecado original no han sanado.

Pero hoy tenemos la oportunidad, en esta generación, de aprender a escuchar y ver lo que no hemos querido admitir: que nuestra nación no es justa, los derechos no son iguales y los sistemas no son justos. Y tenemos la oportunidad de caminar con Jesús por un camino recto que podría conducir a una comunidad justa, equitativa y amada.

¡Quiero ser parte de ese proyecto! ¿tu no?

Y sin embargo, incluso cuando digo que quiero ser parte del proyecto de desmantelar el racismo en el Gran Noroeste, en la Iglesia Metodista Unida, en la familia humana, puedo sentir un poco de miedo en mí. Tendré que renunciar a algo por la justicia. La justicia no me habría dado todas las ventajas de las que disfruto. La justicia de Dios enaltecerá a los humildes y humillará al resto de nosotros (Lucas 1: 52).

¿Qué pasa si yo, si nosotros, nos aventuramos fuera de los valores, creencias y formas de vida que he pasado toda mi vida aprendiendo?

¿Qué pasa si no podemos encontrar un camino a seguir? ¿Y si es un desierto y no una tierra prometida? Bueno, amigos, ya estamos en el desierto, ¿no crees? ¿Tenían razón los israelitas al dejar la esclavitud en Egipto en busca de algo mejor?

¿Y sabes lo que Dios nos dice a nosotros mismos que estamos temerosos? No le tengas miedo a la naturaleza. Has estado ahí antes. Hay una forma mejor que como están las cosas ahora. Te mostraré el camino. Da un paso hacia el camino de la relación correcta.

No temáis. El amor perfecto echa fuera el miedo.

Los miembros de su gabinete y yo estamos dando un paso adelante en el amor, y espero que los Metodistas Unidos de Alaska, Iritis Columbia, Idaho, Oregon y Washington se unan a nosotros en una caminata del miedo al amor.

Desmantelando el racismo y creando una comunidad amada

Filipenses 2:1, 3-5

Si, entonces, hay algún aliento en Cristo, algún consuelo del amor, alguna participación en el Espíritu, alguna compasión y simpatía…. No hagáis nada por egoísmo o engreimiento, sino consideraos con humildad a los demás como mejores que vosotros. Que cada uno de ustedes no mire por sus propios intereses, sino por los intereses de los demás. Sea en ti la misma mente que estaba en Cristo Jesús …

Cuando la Primera Iglesia Metodista Unida de Boise, conocida como la Catedral Rocosa, fue construida y dedicada en 1960, incluía un vitral con la imagen de Robert E. Lee junto a George Washington y Abraham Lincoln. Robert E. Lee fue el general de la Guerra Civil que lideró la lucha para proteger y preservar el derecho legal de esclavizar a las personas en los Estados Unidos. En los últimos años, los ataques letales contra los estadounidenses negros atrajeron una renovada atención hacia esto y se plantearon la cuestión de si era apropiado elevar a Robert E. Lee a la compañía de Washington y Lincoln.

Después de la cruel muerte de George Floyd, cuando la exhibición pública de monumentos de la Guerra Civil y banderas confederadas fue desafiada en todo el país, las críticas a la ventana de la primera Iglesia de Boise estallaron en las redes sociales. Los líderes de la iglesia decidieron que se debería remover la ventana. En julio, Clint y yo manejamos a Boise, Idaho, para participar en una pequeña reunión socialmente distanciada para un acto de desconsagración,  de esta ventana mientras los trabajadores la retiraban permanentemente. [v]

En este acto de desconsagración, hice un llamado a los Metodistas Unidos en el gran área del noroeste para entrar en una temporada de autoexamen, confesión, arrepentimiento y limpieza de la casa en nuestras iglesias.

Un llamado a desmantelar el racismo

En el Gran Noroeste, reconocemos y luchamos por la “inclusión” como una de las tres prácticas de una iglesia vital y saludable. Mientras dirijo a la iglesia en su misión de ayudar a las personas a convertirse en discípulos de Jesucristo para la transformación del mundo, hago un llamado al clero Metodista Unido y a los laicos del Gran Noroeste para promover una mayor equidad e inclusión cultural y racial en nuestras comunidades de fe. Llamo a todos los pastores y miembros laicos de las Conferencias Anuales para que dirijan a sus iglesias a:

  1. Conozca la historia y la realidad actual del racismo, la lucha contra la negritud, la exclusión de los nativos americanos, las actitudes antiinmigrantes, el prejuicio racial implícito y la supremacía blanca.
  2. Examine las imágenes visuales presentes en los espacios e instalaciones de culto, los boletines informativos, en busca de imágenes que sean culturalmente tendenciosas o excluyentes.
  3. Reflexione sobre las tradiciones, la toma de decisiones y los estilos de comunicación que asumen y privilegian la cultura y los valores euro-céntricos.
  4. Examine los valores y las personas priorizadas en los presupuestos y actividades de la iglesia.
  5. De palabra y de hecho, aprecie y honre intencionalmente la bondad dada por Dios a una familia humana diversa.
  6. Dar la bienvenida intencionalmente a la amplia diversidad de los hijos de Dios en una voz, un liderazgo pleno y auténtico en nuestras iglesias.
  7. Iniciar y formar asociaciones con grupos de la comunidad que ahora no están presentes en cada congregación.

Durante las conferencias de cargo de este otoño e invierno, los superintendentes de distrito trabajarán con las congregaciones para comenzar a enfrentar estos desafíos.  Dios nos ha abierto una puerta para que escuchemos, crezcamos y honremos a las personas que traen variadas experiencias de vida en América. Dios nos está guiando en este trabajo, para sanarnos y ayudar a nuestras iglesias a profundizar su discipulado, ampliar su compromiso con las personas racialmente diversas en sus comunidades y convertirse en lugares donde el amor inclusivo de Jesucristo será evidente para las personas de todas las razas y  que están en diferentes caminos de la vida.

Podemos hacer esto. Dios está en esta obra. Jesús abre el camino. El Espíritu Santo está con nosotros para animarnos. Debemos hacerlo.

Obispa Elaine JW Stanovsky
Área Episcopal del Gran Noroeste


[ii] “The Bull Romanus Pontifex, English translation:, cited in Mark Charles and Soong-Chan Rah, Unsettling Truths:  The Ongoing, Dehumanizing Legacy of the Doctrine of Discovery, (Downers Grove, Illinois, Intervarsity Press, 2019 page 15.

[iii] Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow:  Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, (New York, The New Press, 2010.



Translated and adapted by: Rev. Cruz Edwin Santos, Director of Hispanic/Latinx Ministries Office of Connectional Ministries Pacific Northwest Conference

Episcopal Address Part 2 | Becoming Anti-Racist – Dismantling Racism

Becoming Anti-Racist – Dismantling Racism

Episcopal Address Part II  (Part I) | September 8, 2020

In faithfulness to Jesus’ model of inclusive love and justice, as bishop of the Greater Northwest Area of The United Methodist Church I am committed to leading United Methodists in the Alaska Conference, Oregon-Idaho Conference and Pacific Northwest Conference to make dismantling systemic racism within the church and throughout society a long-term missional priority.

The Original Sin is taking what isn’t yours.

After studying the scriptures and observing how people abuse their power in many inventive ways, I have come to believe that the original sin is taking what isn’t yours. Think of Adam and Eve in the garden abundant with food, animals, plants, provided by a generous Creator. Good climate. Good company. And all God asks of them is to leave one tree alone. You can have it all. Enjoy everything in this garden — just don’t eat the fruit of this one tree. But they couldn’t resist temptation. They picked the fruit that wasn’t theirs and ate it. By this one small act, the entire balance between creator and human creatures was disrupted. 

Taking what isn’t yours is not only the original sin, it is the pervasive sin throughout the human family. What is rape or sex trafficking if not an invasion and claiming of rights to another person’s body, privacy, autonomy? What is the refusal to acknowledge a person’s self-knowledge and identification as LGBTQ? Doesn’t child abuse rob the child of innocence, trust, security? What is the confiscation and removal of Native Americans from their ancestral lands and repression of their languages and cultures if not a taking? The internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. Armed invasions and occupations. Think of the separation of children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. Employers callously take workers’ health by exposing them to pesticides, coal dust or COVID-19. Human beings are cunning in the ways they deny each other the fullness of life Jesus came for us to enjoy (John 10:10). The thing about original sin is that it is hard to give up the sweet taste of the stolen apple. 

Today I want to talk with you about the original sin of enslavement and its enduring legacy of racism, especially, though not exclusively, anti-Black racism in America.

A prophetic word for my siblings who are targeted by systemic racism

Isaiah 54

11 O afflicted one, storm-tossed, and not comforted,….
13 All your children shall be taught by the Lord,
    and great shall be the prosperity of your children.
14 In righteousness you shall be established;
    you shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear;
    and from terror, for it shall not come near you.
15 If anyone stirs up strife,
    it is not from me;
    whoever stirs up strife with you
    shall fall because of you….
17 No weapon that is fashioned against you shall prosper,
    and you shall confute every tongue that rises against you in judgment.
    This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord
    and their vindication from me, says the Lord.

Friends, I speak first to you who suffer at the hands of oppressors – you, who have not been shown dignity and respect, and afforded the rights God breathed into every member of the human family at creation. I address, particularly, those who bear the accumulated burden of centuries – generations – of white supremacy, and who daily feel the eye of distrust, suspicion, accusation, exclusion, hatred, rejection.

I am learning to hear and see that in America, systems that we call equal, just and fair – equal opportunity, criminal justice, fair housing – have injustice and bias baked into them. I am learning to hear and see that implicit racial bias, [i] pervasive among white people in America, ensures that white police, teachers, judges, parole officers, congresspersons, election officials, parking lot attendants, neighbors and strangers carry into their work and lives, suspicion of people of color, and preference – not for the poor and outcast, but for white people. This is what is called white privilege. 

I am learning to hear and see that for more than 500 years, the Christian church has granted European explorers permission “to invade, search out, capture, vanquish, and subdue” all Muslims, pagans and enemies of Christ, “the kingdoms, dukedoms, principalities, dominions, possessions and all movable and immovable goods whatsoever held and possessed by them and to reduce their persons to perpetual slavery….and to convert them to their use and profit.” [ii]

I am learning how in America, enslavement of Black bodies didn’t end with the abolition of slavery and emancipation of enslaved people, but that enslavement continued through Jim Crow segregation and the denial of the vote to Black citizens. When the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts dismantled Jim Crow segregation in the 1960s, control of Black bodies and lives wasn’t eradicated, it became embedded elsewhere: the War on Drugs, stop and frisk, disproportionate arrests, convictions, and sentencing of Black citizens, especially men, and in the denial of access to public assistance programs, and the right to vote or serve on a jury for convicted felons. [iii]  

Smart phones and social media have opened a window on racial oppression in America; denied, hidden and ignored for generations.

I remember and say their names again: Trayvon Martin, Walter Scott, Michael Brown, Philando Castile, Freddy Gray, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland and many more that never made the headlines. George Floyd’s desperate last breaths, caught on video, and the relentless cruelty of the officer of the law who took his life tell an undeniable story. Eight minutes and 46 seconds; when the officer’s knee pressed George Floyd’s neck into the pavement, there was plenty of time for the officer to pause, think, and re-evaluate the situation. It was time enough to recognize that Mr. Floyd was no threat to him, to recognize that the suspected offense was a trifling compared to the death sentence the officer carried out – plenty of time to hear God’s voice, and the bystander’s voices shouting – “STOP! This is my beloved son. You are killing him.” And Ahmaud Arbery, hunted down by men who had a plan, stalked him, and killed him. Rayshard Brooks, shot and killed by police at a Wendy’s drive-thru. Breonna Taylor, in her own home asleep. Jacob Blake, shot seven times in the back. His shooting was followed a few days later by a white vigilante, armed with a semi-automatic weapon, shooting and killing two protesters and wounding a third. He returned home without ever being confronted or questioned by police. 

A prophetic word for my white siblings

Isaiah 55

Seek the Lord while he may be found,
    call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake their way,
    and the unrighteous their thoughts;
    let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them,
    and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.

God looked at God’s chosen people and saw their sin. He named it and called them to account. As I read this passage, I hear the voice of God speaking to dominant culture Americans and to me in this season of anti-racism uprising, saying, “My thoughts are not your thoughts. My ways are not your ways.” The crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways smooth (Luke 3:5). Leave the crooked path you have walked all these years. It’s a severe charge. It’s hard to look back over your life, over the teachings of your family, school, church and say, “Wait a minute. Maybe we’ve got this wrong.  Perhaps we need to look again, think again, listen anew. Maybe the way our world has been ordered, all the things we take for granted aren’t right.” 

I am learning to hear and see that the standards, norms and habits I was taught to value are not universally shared by all people from every culture. Slowly, I am learning that as a leader, that if I simply, unconsciously, lead the Church according to the cultural norms that are natural to me, I will inadvertently, unconsciously perpetuate ways of working and relating that do not work for many of its members. I will continue practices that silence the gifts, insights and wisdom of people raised in different cultural contexts. I am learning to recognize that white people and Black people do not share the same life experiences or the same generational memory and interpretation of history. These differences mean that we view the ways of the world we share very differently. And when I hear someone say something from a different perspective that doesn’t make sense to me and is contrary to how I have always thought of it, I may want to say, “that’s ridiculous!” “You’re crazy.” “Let me show you how you are wrong.” “The world just doesn’t work that way – it can’t work that way!” “Let me teach you the right way.”

You see, until I learn to have ears to hear, I cannot see beyond my own cultural perspective. This is what is called cultural normativity. [iv]

An Eye-Opening Moment

Late one night, I found myself riding in a car we had borrowed from a Native American friend, who had borrowed it from a relative. The driver was a Black male colleague with a blonde, white woman in the passenger’s seat. I sat with a young Filipino man and a young gay Hispanic man in the back. On a dark, remote rural Oklahoma highway, we were pulled over for a broken tail light. None of us was from Oklahoma. No two of us were from the same state. We didn’t know the name of the person the car was registered to. In that moment, I experienced something I knew nothing about – driving while Black. Our suddenly serious and vigilant driver’s training kicked in:

  • Be quiet and respectful
  • No-one speaks but me
  • No acting up. No jokes
  • No quick movements

Nothing bad happened that night, but it was easy to see how it might have, if the car registration or the driver’s license had been expired, if there was an unpaid parking ticket, or there hadn’t been several clergy in the car. Suppose our driver had been alone in the car. Suppose the officer had been in a bad mood. Who would have known and told the truth? I will never doubt the real danger and fear of driving while Black.

Without the videos, the brazen police actions we witness in cities across America would never have seen the light of day. A story would have been woven that “justified” unjustifiable police actions: 

  • the suspect was menacing
  • police acted in self-defense or thought there was a weapon
  • evidence is lost, tampered with or suppressed
  • the witnesses aren’t credible
  • or they just don’t show up to testify

Since smartphones have become commonplace, individuals can shine a light on a pattern of abusive power that has gone unacknowledged and unaddressed for far too long. Endemic, systemic racism now confronts white Americans who have been able to pretend it didn’t exist or have explained it away. 

This year, in this season as we watch protests that continue after four months, each one of us has to decide whether to pay attention to the evidence and re-evaluate whether or not racism is alive and well in our world, or whether we will continue to kid ourselves by denying the evidence.

Will we continue to minimize the role of racism in the events we see, and adopt conspiracy theories that protect us from having to face a deep, hard sin in our society?

This is why I am talking to you about this today. America has been broken since there was money to be made by kidnapping, imprisoning, shipping like cargo across the ocean and literally delivering people with Black bodies from Africa to the New world to be marketed to enslavers who built the wealthiest nation in the world on their backs. And all these years later, the deep wounds caused by that original sin have not healed.

But we have a chance today, in this generation, to learn to hear and see what we have not wanted to admit – that our nation is not fair, rights are not equal, and systems are not just. And we have the opportunity to journey with Jesus on a straight path that might lead to a just, equal, fair and beloved community.

I want to be part of that project! Don’t you?

And yet, even as I say that I want to be part of the project of dismantling racism in the Greater Northwest, in The United Methodist Church, in the human family, I can feel a little fear rising in myself.  I will have to give up something for justice.  Justice would not have given me all the advantages I enjoy.  God’s justice will lift up the lowly and humble the rest of us (Luke 1: 52).

What if I – if we – venture outside the values, beliefs and ways of living that I have spent a lifetime learning? What if we can’t find a way forward? What if it’s a wilderness and not a promised land? Well, friends, we’re in the wilderness already, wouldn’t you say? Were the Israelites right to leave slavery in Egypt in search of something better? 

And you know what God says to our fearful selves? Don’t be afraid of the wilderness. You have been there before. There is a better way than the way things are now. I will show you the way. Take a step on the path of right relationship.

Fear not. Perfect love casts out fear.

Your cabinet members and I are stepping out in love, and I hope that United Methodists in Alaska, British Columbia, Idaho, Oregon and Washington will join us on a walk from fear to love.

Dismantling Racism and Creating Beloved Community

Phillipians 2:1, 3-5

If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy…. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus…

When Boise First United Methodist Church, known as the Cathedral of the Rockies, was built and dedicated in 1960, it included was a stained-glass window with the image of Robert E. Lee alongside George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.  Robert E. Lee was the Civil War general who led the fight to protect and preserve the legal right to enslave people in the United States. In recent years lethal attacks on Black Americans brought renewed attention to this widow and raised the question whether it was appropriate to elevate Robert E. Lee to the company of Washington and Lincoln.

After George Floyd’s cruel death, as the public display of Civil War monuments and confederate flags was challenged across the country, criticism of the window at Boise First flared up on social media. Church leaders decided the window should be removed. In July, Clint and I drove to Boise, Idaho, to participate in a small, socially distanced gathering to deconsecrate this window as workers removed it permanently. [v]

At the deconsecration, I issued a call to United Methodists in the Greater Northwest Area to enter a season of self-examination, confession, repentance and housecleaning in our churches.

A Call to Dismantle Racism

In the Greater Northwest, we recognize and strive for “inclusion” as one of three practices of a vital, healthy church.  As I lead the church in its mission of helping people become disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world, I call upon the United Methodist clergy and laity of the Greater Northwest Area to promote greater cultural and racial equity and inclusion in our communities of faith.  I call every pastor and lay member of the Annual Conferences to lead their church(es) to:

  1. Learn the history and current reality of racism, anti-blackness, Native American exclusion, anti-immigrant attitudes, implicit racial bias and white supremacy.
  2. Examine the visual images present in worship spaces and facilities, newsletters, for imagery that is culturally biased or exclusionary.
  3. Reflect on traditions, decision-making, and communication styles that assume and privilege Euro-centric culture and values.
  4. Examine the values and people prioritized in church budgets and activities.
  5. In word and deed, intentionally to appreciate and honor the God-given goodness of a diverse human family.
  6. Intentionally to welcome the wide diversity of God’s children into full, authentic voice and leadership in our churches.
  7. Initiate and enter into partnerships with groups in the community that are not now present in each congregation.

During Charge Conferences this fall and winter, district superintendents will work with congregations to begin to engage these challenges. God has opened a door for us listen, to grow and to honor people who bring varied experiences of life in America. God is leading us in this work, to make us whole, and to help our churches deepen their discipleship, broaden their engagement with the racially diverse people in their communities, and become places where the inclusive love of Jesus Christ will be evident to people from all races and walks of life.

We can do this. God is in this work. Jesus leads the way. The Holy Spirit is with us for encouragement. We must do it.

Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky
Greater Northwest Episcopal Area


[ii] “The Bull Romanus Pontifex, English translation:, cited in Mark Charles and Soong-Chan Rah, Unsettling Truths:  The Ongoing, Dehumanizing Legacy of the Doctrine of Discovery, (Downers Grove, Illinois, Intervarsity Press, 2019 page 15.

[iii] Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow:  Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, (New York, The New Press, 2010.



Mensaje Episcopal Parte I y aviso número 8 sobre COVID-19.

El discurso de la obispa Stanovsky para las Conferencias Anuales virtuales de septiembre de 2020 se publicará por escrito en tres partes antes de las sesiones programadas para el 15, 16 y 17 de septiembre.  Hoy recibes la Parte 1, que también es el aviso número 8  sobre COVID-19. En las próximas semanas recibirán la Parte 2: Desmantelando el Racismo y la Parte 3: Re-imaginando el Metodismo Unido: Alaska, el gran área del Noroeste, la Jurisdicción del Oeste y La Iglesia Metodista Unida. La obispa ofrecerá una descripción general en línea durante las sesiones de la conferencia anual.  Envíe sus comentarios o preguntas a  escribiendo en el encabezamiento: “Dirección episcopal”.

Continue reading

Episcopal Address Part I and COVID-19 Notice no. 8

Bishop Stanovsky’s address to the September 2020 online Annual Conferences will be issued in written form in three parts before the sessions scheduled for September 15, 16 and 17 [link].  Today you receive Part 1, which is also COVID-19 Notice #8. It will be followed in coming weeks by Part 2 – Dismantling Racism, and Part 3 – Reimagining United Methodism:  Alaska, the Greater Northwest, the Western Jurisdiction and The United Methodist Church.  The bishop will offer an online overview during the conference sessions.  Please send comments or questions to her at with the subject line: “Episcopal address.” 

For the Love of God,



business sign in Rosalyn, Wash.
A sign outside a business in Rosalyn, Wash.

Yesterday was the six month anniversary of my first pastoral notice regarding COVID-19. We didn’t know much about the coronavirus and the pandemic it would cause on February 27. We didn’t know we would celebrate Easter online. That General Conference in May would be postponed, Annual Conferences in June cancelled, Jurisdictional Conference in July. We couldn’t imagine movie theaters closing. Restaurants open only for take-out. Loved ones being isolated from visits in hospitals or nursing homes. We didn’t imagine that we would pass spring and summer and enter fall with restrictions on social gathering, travel, economic activity and schools. We find ourselves in a wilderness. The bible knows what wandering in the wilderness is like. The bible is full of stories, laments, encouragements, admonitions, guidelines for people who, from time to time find themselves wandering, discouraged, uncertain, lost. So, people of God, listen up. God has not abandoned us.


“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”  
– John 15: 12-13

Sacrifice personal liberty to save lives

To save lives, prevent long term health effects, slow the spread of COVID-19, and to promote long term, sustainable economic recovery, United Methodists in the Greater Northwest will continue to praise God and serve their communities under the provisions of Reimagining Life Together  for the foreseeable future. 

The risk from the coronavirus isn’t behind us. While the spread of the disease is declining in some areas, it is increasing in others, as waves of community spread carry it into previously untouched rural communities and some experts predict new spikes this fall in areas where schools and other social gatherings restart in person, and as temperatures drop, people move indoors and another cold and flu season begins.

At the same time, an “increasing numbness to the virus’s danger”[i] means that our collective sense of risk is abating and leading to careless behavior that promotes spread of the disease.  This is a predictable, natural occurrence:  “The more we’re exposed to a given threat, the less intimidating it seems…. Because risk perception fails as we learn to live with COVID-19,…researchers…see… strict social distancing, enforced masking outside the home and stay-at-home orders as perhaps the only things that can protect us from our own faulty judgment….Our tendency to view risk through the prism of emotion… hurts us during a pandemic.”

This numbing to the reality of risk has combined with an emphasis on individual rights to fuel rebellion by some against restrictions on social gathering, refusal to wear face coverings and calls for removal of public officials who advocate such measures. Individual liberties activists even carry guns to protests and to government offices to make their point. 

Developing tolerance to risk is a good coping strategy if you have a crippling fear of heights or crowds or closed spaces. It is dangerous if it results in risky behavior that causes more community spread of a virus that leads to further spikes in cases, hospitalizations and deaths. 

Ask yourself, WHAT WOULD JESUS DO? Wash your hands with soap or hand sanitizer.  Stay at home as much as you can. Wear face coverings in public.  Keep socially distant.  Don’t gather in large groups. And be gracious about it! Do not look dismal (Matthew 6: 16). These are small, life-saving sacrifices in the face of a pandemic that has killed 180,000 people in the United States and is far from finished. Think of them as acts of love for God, self and neighbor. 

As you encounter other people on the street or in the grocery store, whether or not their faces are covered, let your eyes meet their eyes, as an affirmation that you see them, maybe say at least “hello” and offer a silent prayer: “May God bless and keep you.” This is how Christians behave as they try to obey God’s reverence for life. 

Deepen Relationships of Spiritual Depth and Care

The pandemic poses risks besides those from infection by the coronavirus.  Long term social isolation and anxiety are dangers to mental, spiritual and social health.  We hear reports of increased domestic abuse, crime, substance abuse, depression and other mental illnesses. Job loss and economic instability put strains on individuals, families and communities.    

Most of our churches have adapted very quickly to provide ways for the community to gather remotely – online, drive-in, distanced outdoor, on the phone, by sending written sermons and bulletins. Some have activated telephone trees. It’s been amazing.

In addition to group gatherings, as we move into autumn and winter, how will our churches foster networks of human connection for as long as distance and isolation continue?  What is our long-term plan to encourage relationships of spiritual companionship, encouragement and prayer among people who may have limited social networks? How do we ensure that no-one in our communities of care are left without human contact day by day and week by week? 

Could we develop networks of Companions on the Journey (COJ), who commit to keep in weekly touch with each other, and to be available to one another as needed between scheduled contacts?  Might a team of people in a congregation search out lines of powerful, prophetic scripture, hymns, poetry, prayers, to post on the church website or Facebook page to feed the spirits of people.


Don’t Hunker Down Spiritually

We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now;
and not only the creation, but we ourselves…groan inwardly while we wait….
The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sights too deep for words. 
– Romans 8:22-26  

 To combat declining mental, emotional and spiritual health experienced by many during the COVID-19 pandemic, I call United Methodists to return to the deep well of God’s love and grace, revealed in Jesus Christ, as we remember, refresh and reclaim the spiritual strength and courage of our faith preserved in the scriptures, hymns, prayers, teachings, and practices of our Church.  And I call on new generations to lead us into new expressions and practices that have the power to bless people in this pandemic with fortitude and resilience. 

Nothing is the same in our churches since COVID-19 first forced us to “hunker down” with stay at home orders in March and April and I asked the churches of the Greater Northwest Area (Alaska, Oregon-Idaho and Pacific Northwest Conference) to suspend worship and close their buildings beginning March 13.  No handshakes, no communion, no friendship circles, no laying on of hands, no sardines, no passing of the peace, no singing, no meetings, no potlucks, no coffee hour, no hospital visits, home visits, prayer circles, child care, food banks, AA meetings. 

I hear from some of our churches an urgency to gather again in person, in the sanctuary, in our familiar pews, to sing our beloved songs as if our Christian love for one another would wither and die without its familiar forms — as if God isn’t present except when the community is gathered. As if we cannot support one another without physical proximity. As if even one of the breaths we take is not filled with the life-giving breath of the Holy Spirit. Our dependence on sensory signs creates in us a tendency to hunker down and wait until we can celebrate in the ways we are used to finding comfort in.

The United Methodist Church has worked very hard to embody the love of God in our gatherings for worship, study and fellowship, in our volunteer service, advocating for just public policy, providing meals, welcoming new immigrants, caring for families. We have a strong focus on faith in the flesh, faith at work in the world that you can see, hear, smell, taste and touch. We believe that faith was alive in the physical presence of Jesus as he walked through villages, touched and healed the sick, restored sight to the blind, called forth demons, shared the bread and wind in the Upper Room and a breakfast of fish. And we believe our faith has concrete physical expressions. “Faith without works is dead” (James 2:17).  And yet, beneath or behind the world of our senses, there is another reality.  The bible calls it the world of “unseen things.”[ii]  Outward facing faith need to be balanced with a theology of spirit that affirms that there is more to faith than what we can see, touch, taste, hear and smell.  There is also an inwardness to faith.  Beneath all sensory evidence, our hearts are touched by God in experiences so immediate and powerful that they cannot be dismissed.

We must grow deeper roots.  We must not settle for a faith that lets us down when times are tough and the way is hidden in shadows. The Christian Church must strive to be a beacon of hope in the very darkest of times. When we can see no evidence of God’s redeeming grace whatsoever, the “eye of our heart” sees what is not seen. When no encouraging word is to be heard, the Holy Spirit speaks to our inner being.  When we cry, “Abba!  Father!” it is that very Spirit [of God] bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, of God and joint hers with Christ. (From Romans 8: 15-17).

When you read in the bible about light, dawn, lamp, fire, radiance, sun, it’s talking about the way God opens our eyes and enlightens us to see the things of the spirit that cannot be seen.

  • Open my eyes that I might see…
  • Open the eyes of my heart, Lord…
  • Ye blind, behold your savior come…
  • Be Thou my vision, O lord of my heart…
  • Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path…

Some of us have read and sung these words our whole lives.  Now is the time to call them forth, and shine them into the dark days of disease, isolation, fear and division.  We learned them for a time like this.

My faith is not dependent on in-person gathering, on the elements of communion and baptism, on the laying on of hands, or the kiss of peace.  I love all of these, and they enrich my faith, and they certainly help keep my participation in the community of faith alive and immediate.  But, in the midst of a pandemic, sitting at my desk in the corner of my isolated bedroom as I write, God lives in me, speaks to me, gives me hope, cajoles me to action, quickens my heart.  “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”  (Hebrews 11:1)

In the year ahead I promise to lead the Greater Northwest Area to invite its members and friends to broaden and deepen their spiritual lives, not in a way that turns us inward, away from our communities and the world, but in a way that strengthens our hearts with courage to engage with our families, neighbors and strangers during times when evidence of God’s presence and goodness are scarce.

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

Bishop, Greater NW Episcopal Area

[i] “How our brains numb us to COVID-19’s risks – and what we can do about it,” Elizabeth Svoboda, The Washington Post, published in The Seattle Times, August 24, 2020

[ii] Romans 8: 18-25, 2 Corinthians 4: 18, Hebrews 11:1

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

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.


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.


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

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.   

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.

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






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