Author: Greater NW Communications

Coping Resources in a pandemic lifestyle

Fear And Worry Are Normal Feelings that Many People Experience During These Difficult Times. It is particularly important to prioritize taking care of yourself. The following sections will provide simple strategies to Care for Yourself, which in turn will support your efforts to care for others.

HOW TO TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF AND FAMILY–OVERVIEWS

A toolkit from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network. Parent/Caregiver Guide to Helping Families with the Coronavirus. Helps parents and caregivers think about practical coping strategies.

California’s Surgeon General’s Playbook on Stress Relief: Provides a useful and practical approach for adults. Could be adapted for small groups.

California Surgeon General’s Playbook on Stress Relief for Caregivers and Kids Offers a useful and practical approach.

SELF-CARE AND RESILIENCE STRATEGIES

That Discomfort You Are Feeling Is Grief from Harvard Business Review Good talks about recognizing, accepting, and coping with our uncomfortable emotions.

Mental Health expert Brene Brown discusses a useful “family gap” strategy when patience is running low and frustration is high:

Simple self-care exercises for all ages to help identify emotions and self-calm.

Nurturing Hope in Difficult Times.

Self-Help Guides. Easy to use PDFs on coping with anxiety, mood swings, worry, emotional eating, loneliness. Make good handouts for small groups.

Coping with stress while in isolation.

Helping older adults cope.  

Get Moving. Though in isolation, there are many great workout platforms to help keep energy up.

GRIEF AND LOSS RESOURCES

Stress, anxiety, and other depression-like symptoms are common reactions during and after a disaster and may compound the grief and disorientation surrounding the death of a loved one.  A local Hospice provider, which offers individual and group bereavement support is a good place to begin.

That Discomfort You Are Feeling Is Grief. Good article about recognizing, accepting, and coping with our uncomfortable emotions.

You can find many helpful resources at the Center for Loss: Coronavirus And The Six Needs Of Mourning.

OTHER HELPFUL RESOURCES

TRAUMA RESOURCES

SPECIFIC STRATEGIES FOR SUPPORTING CHILDREN AND YOUTH

Child Mind Institute: Talking to Kids About the Coronavirus. Short article on do’s and don’ts for talking with children.

APA: How to talk to Children About Difficult News. Brief article on the important points for talking with children about traumatic news.

Childhood well-being during the pandemic. Well-written article from University of Massachusetts.

Manuela Molina: COVIBOOK. Nicely written book for young children and special needs youth in multiple languages to print-out, color, and read with parents.

How to Explain Coronavirus COVID-19 to a Child with Anxiety & ADHD.

Healthcare Toolbox. COVID-19 Helping My Child Cope. Brief guide for parents in multiple languages that covers the basics of emotional coping.

Parenting anxious kids during coronavirus.

Understanding the needs of teens. The article discusses disappointments teens face and how to help.

NY Times: Quaranteenagers: Strategies for Parenting in Close Quarters. Specific strategies for dealing with feelings of youth.

Toolkit for supporting individuals with autism during pandemic.

Supporting college students. Written by a college psychiatrist on how to help college students cope whether staying in an apartment or moving home for the remainder of the semester:

STIGMA REDUCTION RESOURCES

Washington Department of Health: Stigma Reduction around Coronavirus and COVID-19

King County: Anti-Stigma Resources. Discusses ways to handle discrimination and where to report it.

CDC: Stigma prevention and facts about COVID-19. Brief article discusses ways to prevent stigma.

Teaching Tolerance: How to Respond to Coronavirus Racism Short article on what to say when people use racist comments.

Don’t Let Fear Of Covid-19 Turn Into Stigma. Discusses the roots of stigma and how to overcome it.

NATIONAL HELPLINES

Trauma-Informed Telephone Support Available 24/7: The Disaster Distress Helpline, 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746: 24/7, 365-day-a-year, national hotline dedicated to providing immediate crisis counseling for people who are experiencing emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster. Toll-free, multilingual, and confidential.

From The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: A National Leader In Suicide Prevention And Mental Health Crisis Care Emotional Well-being During the COVID-19 Outbreak: Tips and Links and 24/7 Helpline

Lines For Life https://www.linesforlife.org/ Get Help NOW: 800-273-8255

Aviso #6, de parte de nuestra Obispa en relación con el COVID-19, 13 de mayo del 2020

Aviso #6, de parte de nuestra Obispa en relación con el COVID-19, 13 de mayo del 2020

EXTENSION DE SUSPENSIÓN DE ADORACIÓN Y CIERRE DE EDIFICIOS HASTA JUNIO 15, 2020

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 15 de junio de 2020. En este principio del proceso de reapertura por fases, los datos sobre la propagación del virus son inconsistentes e inconclusos. Esta fecha permite dos períodos más de 14 días durante los cuales podremos evaluar si los casos de COVID-19 están disminuyendo o aumentando. Nuestras iglesias estarán a la vanguardia de la protección de la salud pública, pero no estarán a la vanguardia de la reapertura a riesgo de aumentar la exposición, las infecciones y las muertes.

¿Qué hemos aprendido hasta ahora de la pandemia?

COVID-19 es oportunista. Busca oportunidades para saltar especies, para propagarse de una persona a otra.

Algunos entornos proporcionan excelentes condiciones para que el virus se propague. Piense en cruceros, prisiones, campamentos de trabajo para migrantes, hogares de ancianos, un portaaviones, refugios para personas sin hogar, subterráneos, plantas empacadoras de carne. Estos fueron algunos de los lugares de reproducción de esta enfermedad mortal. Y algunos de los primeros puntos críticos para la propagación de la enfermedad fueron las reuniones de adoración de comunidades religiosas.

El comportamiento humano puede reducir las posibilidades de propagación de este virus. En muchos lugares, la cooperación pública con directrices gubernamentales extremas han “aplanado la curva”, reduciendo la tasa de nuevas infecciones por COVID-19, las muertes, la necesidad de mayor equipo y suministros de emergencias.
Estas son buenas noticias.

Al mismo tiempo, el comportamiento humano también puede crear nuevas oportunidades para este virus mortal. A muchos expertos en enfermedades infecciosas les preocupa que pueda ser demasiado pronto para relajar las restricciones a la reunión social, las disciplinas de distanciamiento social, lavado de manos y uso de máscaras faciales en público. Anticipan que a medida que las personas comiencen a interactuar en grupos nuevamente, en contacto cercano entre sí y en espacios cerrados, la propagación del virus puede aumentar nuevamente. A medida que las personas vuelven a sus prácticas normales, advierten estos profesionales de la salud, que no podemos estar seguros de que el virus no resurja nuevamente.

Cómo se ve el amor cristiano en una pandemia

En esto hemos conocido el amor, en que él (Jesús)puso su vida por nosotros; también
nosotros debemos poner nuestras vidas por los hermanos.
1 Juan 3:16

Los seguidores de Jesús tienen un alto llamado a no hacer daño, a amar a nuestro prójimo como a nosotros mismos, y un deber sacrificial de vivir el uno para el otro.

Es un acto de supremacía del amor considerar el bienestar de los demás igual que el nuestro y vivir por el bien de los demás, incluso prefiriendo esto ante nuestro propio bien. Aprendimos este de Jesús, el cual por el gozo puesto delante de él sufrió la cruz,” (Hebreos 12:2b). Podemos aceptar este alto llamado, porque Jesús nos precedió, viviendo una vida de amor que se entrega, incluso a costa de su vida. En la resurrección de Jesús de entre los muertos, Dios nos revela más allá de toda sombra de duda que la vida dada a otros en amor nunca muere.

En esta crisis de salud, como en la mayoría de las crisis de cualquier tipo, las personas más vulnerables a la enfermedad son las personas que ya viven al margen de la sociedad con recursos limitados, personales, financieros y sociales, o que viven con desafíos físicos, mentales o emocionales. En particular, sabemos que las personas de color, especialmente los afroamericanos y las personas hispanas / latinas, corren un riesgo desproporcionado de contraer y morir por el virus.

La única forma en que puedo entender mi llamado cristiano frente a este virus poderoso y sigiloso (silencioso) es hacer lo que yo pueda para evitar que se propague, especialmente a aquellos que están en mayor riesgo. Y el costo para mí es pequeño, realmente:

  • quédarme en casa
  • lavar mis manos
  • cubrir mi nariz y boca
  • no doy la mano para saludar
  • dar lo que pueda para aliviar el sufrimiento de los demás
  • pido a las personas e iglesias que cuiden, que tomen precauciones razonables para evitar que alguien se enferme en un evento de la iglesia o en una de nuestras instalaciones de la iglesia.

Espero y oro para que busque en sus propios corazones y se pregunte: ¿Qué haría Jesús? Y asuma estos pequeños sacrificios por la salud de toda la comunidad, toda la familia humana.

‘Haría cualquier cosa por un cambio’

Una historia que nos advierte acerca de reunirse demasiado pronto para la adoración proviene de “Living Spirit United Church en Calgary”, Alberta, Canadá.

Haga clic aquí para leer

Mientras ejercen precaución, las iglesias deben prepararse para reabrir

Muchas personas están ansiosas por regresar a los edificios de nuestra iglesia y a los patrones de adoración, discipulado y servicio que conocemos y amamos. Mientras esperamos la nueva apertura de nuestras iglesias, podemos prepararnos ahora.
La apertura de iglesias, como la apertura de nuestras comunidades será con precaución y gradual. Pronto, proporcionaremos un resumen de las fases que esperamos que sigan para reabrir sus congregaciones. No hay una línea de tiempo definido, ya que no podemos saber ahora cómo progresará la enfermedad.

Cada iglesia debe ser tan disciplinada y compasiva acerca de la reapertura como lo ha sido durante la adaptación de estar cerrada. Debes pensar tan cuidadosamente sobre tus vecinos y las necesidades de las personas fuera de la iglesia como lo haces también sobre nosotros mismos. El amor nunca termina.

A fines de la próxima semana, se compartirán descripciones detalladas de lo que se requiere y lo que se permite para cada fase. Cada iglesia desarrollará un plan para reabrir que se ajuste a las fases descritas. Deberá compartir su plan de reapertura con el superintendente de su distrito para que su iglesia pase de una fase a la siguiente. Por ahora, puede comenzar a pensar en quién debería ser parte del grupo de planificación, ¿qué desafíos especiales para el distanciamiento social presenta su edificio de la iglesia y qué grupos usan el edificio de la iglesia para el que necesita planificar? Deberá comenzar su reunión de planificación por medios electrónicos.

¿Qué funciona para todos? ¿Zoom? ¿Correo electrónico grupal? ¿Llamadas telefónicas de conferencia? Facetime? Puede comenzar temprano para establecer los medios por los cuales se reunirán y trabajarán juntos.

La reapertura no debería ser un ejercicio para volver a ser las cosas como solían hacerlas. Esto debe planificarse y llevarse a cabo como un proceso creativo e intencional. Al igual que con cualquier dislocación, esta pandemia presenta a cada iglesia la oportunidad de evaluar cómo estaban las cosas, y tomar decisiones sobre a qué practicas podemos regresar o qué dejar atrás.

Fuerza para la larga carrera

Te envié mi primer mensaje sobre COVID-19 el 5 de marzo. Entonces no sabía que necesitaría numerar estos mensajes. Diez semanas después, este es el Aviso # 6 de COVID-19. El comienzo de una crisis llega con un torrente de ansiedad y energía. Todos abandonamos lo que estábamos haciendo y dirigimos la atención al presente, apremiando la necesidad del momento. Después de estas largas semanas con todos los ajustes de escuelas canceladas, el trabajo desde el hogar, los edificios cerrados, la adoración en persona suspendida, ninguna visita al hospital, todo nos ha pasado factura.

Estoy agradecida con cada uno de ustedes que se ha enfrentado al desafío y, al mismo tiempo, estoy consciente de que todos sentimos la tensión a veces e incluso podemos colapsar bajo la carga. Ya no es una practica (Fogueo). Nosotros/as estamos en un maratón. Necesitamos establecer un ritmo que podamos mantener.
Necesitamos hacer tiempo para pagar las facturas, lavar la ropa y limpiar los pisos, cortarnos las uñas de los pies.

Eres preciosa/o a la vista de tu Creador. Respira el aliento de la vida. Exhala el cansancio del momento.

Dios limpiará cada lágrima de sus ojos.
La muerte ya no existirá;
el luto, el llanto y el dolor ya no existirán
porque las primeras cosas han pasado …
Mira, estoy haciendo todas las cosas nuevas …
Al sediento le daré agua como regalo del manantial del agua de la vida.
Adaptado de Apocalipsis 21

Obispa Elaine JW Stanovsky

Bishop’s COVID-19 Notice #6, May 13, 2020

Bishop’s COVID-19 Notice #6, May 13, 2020

Worship Suspension and Building Closures Extended through June 15, 2020

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 June 15, 2020. This early in the phased reopening process, data on the spread of the virus is inconsistent and inconclusive. This date allows two more 14-day periods during which to assess whether COVID-19 cases are declining or increasing. Our churches will be on the leading edge of protecting public health, but not be on the leading edge of reopening at the risk of increasing exposures, infections and deaths.

What Have We Learned So Far from the Pandemic

COVID-19 is opportunistic. It looks for opportunities to jump species, to spread from one person to another.

Some environments provide excellent conditions for the virus to spread. Think of cruise ships, prisons, migrant work camps, nursing homes, an aircraft carrier, homeless shelters, subways, meat packing plants. These were some of the breeding grounds for this deadly disease. And some of the early hot spots for spread of the disease were gatherings of faith communities for worship.

Human behavior can reduce its chances of spreading. In many places public cooperation with extreme government directives have “flattened the curve,” reducing the rate of new COVID-19 infections, deaths and the need for emergency equipment and supplies. This is good news.

At the same time, human behavior can also create opportunity for this deadly virus. Many infectious disease experts are concerned that it may be too soon to relax the restrictions on social gathering, the disciplines of social distancing, hand washing and wearing face masks in public. They anticipate that as people begin to interact in groups again, in close contact with one another, and in enclosed spaces, the spread of the virus may increase again. As people return to these practices, these health care professionals warn, we cannot be certain that the virus won’t rebound.

What Christian Love Looks Like in a Pandemic

We know love by this, that he [Jesus] laid down his life for us –
And we ought to lay down our lives for one another.
1 John 3:16

Followers of Jesus have a high calling to do no harm, to love our neighbors as ourselves, and a sacrificial duty to live for one another. It is the supreme act of love to consider another’s welfare equal to our own, and to live for the good of others, even in preference to our own good. We learned this from Jesus, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross,” (Hebrews 12:2b). We are able to accept this high calling, because Jesus went before us, living a life of self-giving love, even at the cost of his life. In Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, God reveals to us beyond the shadow of a doubt that life given to others in love never dies.

In this health crisis, as in most crises of any kind, the most vulnerable persons to the disease are persons who already live on the margins of society with limited resources personal, financial and social resources, or who live with physical, mental or emotional challenges. In particular, we know that persons of color, especially African Americans and Hispanic/Latinx persons, are disproportionately at risk of contracting and dying from the virus.

The only way I can understand my Christian calling in the face of this powerful, stealthy virus, is to do what I can to prevent it from spreading, especially to those most at risk. And the cost to me is small, really:

  • stay at home
  • wash my hands
  • cover my nose and mouth
  • don’t shake hands
  • give what I can to relieve the suffering of others
  • ask the people and churches I am assigned to look after, to take reasonable precautions to keep anyone from becoming ill at a church event or in one of our church facilities.

I hope and pray that you will search your own hearts, ask, What Would Jesus Do? And take on these small sacrifices for the health of the whole community, the whole human family.

‘I would do anything for a do-over’

A cautionary tale about gathering too soon for worship, comes from Living Spirit United Church in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Click Here to Read

While Exercising Caution, Churches Should Prepare to Reopen

Many people are eager to return to our church buildings and to the patterns of worship, discipleship and service we know and love. While we wait in expectation for the new opening of our churches, we can prepare now. The opening of churches, as the opening of our communities will be measured and gradual. Soon, we will provide a summary of the phases we expect reopening to follow. There is no timeline, since we can’t know now how the disease will progress.

Each church should be as disciplined and compassionate about reopening as it has been about how to adjust to being closed. You should think as carefully about your neighbors, and the needs of people outside the church as you do about ourselves. Love never ends.

By the end of next week, detailed descriptions of what is required and what is allowed for each phase will be shared. Every church will develop a plan to reopen that conforms to the Phases outlined. You will need to share your plan for reopening with your district superintendent for your church to move from one phase to the next. For now, you might begin to think about who should be part of the planning group, what special challenges to social distancing does your church building present, and what groups use the church building that you need to plan for? You will need to begin your planning meeting by electronic means. What works for everyone? Zoom? Group emails? Telephone conference calls? Facetime? You can begin early to set up the means by which you will meet and work together.

Reopening shouldn’t be an exercise in returning to the way things used to be. It should be planned and undertaken as a creative, intentional process. As with any dislocation, this pandemic presents each church with the opportunity to evaluate how things were, and to make choices about what to return to, and what to leave behind.

Strength for the Long Run

I sent you my first message about COVID-19 on March 5. I didn’t know then that I would need to number these messages. Ten weeks later, this is COVID-19 Notice #6. The beginning of a crisis comes with a rush of anxiety and energy. We all drop what we were doing and turn attention to the present, pressing need of the moment. These long weeks later, with all the adjustments to cancelled school, work from home, closed buildings, suspended in-person worship, no hospital visitation have taken their toll.

I am grateful to each of you who has risen to the challenge and at the same time I am mindful that we all feel the strain at times and may even crumple under the burden. It’s no longer a sprint. We are in a marathon. We need to set a pace we can maintain. We need to make time to pay the bills, do the laundry and vacuum the floors, cut our toenails.

You are precious in the sight of your Creator. Breathe in the breath of life. Breathe out the weariness of the moment.

God will wipe every tear from their eyes.
Death will be no more;
mourning and crying and pain will be no more,
for the first things have passed away….
See, I am making all things new….
To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life.
Adapted from Revelation 21

Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky

Simple instructions to make homemade masks

Advice from the Centers for Disease Control recently released states that, “a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms (“asymptomatic”) and that even those who eventually develop symptoms (“pre-symptomatic”) can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms.

This means that the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity —for example, speaking, coughing, or sneezing — even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms.

In light of this new evidence, CDC recommends “wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.” ( See full article here.)

Health authorities warn not to rely on the homemade mask to protect you and still keep a safe distance of at least 6 feet from others when outside your home.

For those interested in making masks to wear in nonclinical settings or
for personal use, Kaiser Permanente offers step-by-step instructions here. Be sure to instruct the receiver to wash it before wearing. There are several other mask instructions available on the internet. 

Sally Blanchard, Oregon-Idaho Conference office and event manager, who has been sewing these said, “After you make the first one, they go quickly and are easy to make. Neighbors and friends have asked for them and it feels good to share what I can do.”

Bishop Stanovsky discusses pros and cons of Online Communion

Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky briefly discusses some of the arguments for and against Online Communion. She reminds us that the WJ College of Bishops’ guidance does not require clergy to offer Communion online, and reiterates her trust in clergy to make good, reasoned decisions.

Transcription

Good afternoon. Yesterday after the webinar, a number of questions came to me about online communion and whether or not it’s appropriate for people to serve, for clergy to consecrate and invite people to receive elements in their own homes while we’re doing worship remotely. And so I wanted to just give you some quick responses.

As you know, United Methodist bishops in the Western Jurisdiction have given permission, with care, for this to be done during the virus epidemic. But I want you to be clear that the bishops are not prescribing that this must be done, or that everyone may feel comfortable, or it may be appropriate in every setting.

We understand communion to be a means of grace, that it’s a converting ordinance meaning that through communion God works through us as we confess and as we affirm our faith, and as we receive the elements of communion around the table or in community. When we come to the table, we’re inviting God to change us, to work on us, to make us more the people that we are intended to be, that we can be in the fullness of God’s grace. So changing the practice is a big deal and we should do it thoughtfully and prayerfully, if we do it at all.

So I’m going to give you the arguments, at least some of them, the pros and cons, of online communion.

In favor of online communion is Wesley, John Wesley’s admonition that communion is a duty. He talks about the duty of constant communion. It’s a commandment, “do this in remembrance of me. “Do it as often as you eat it and drink it.” And he doesn’t talk about frequent communion. In fact, he corrects himself and talks about constant communion. We must be in constant communion with God and Jesus our Savior. He talks about communion as being a blessing, as food for the soul, as a mercy from God to humankind.

Therefore, those who argue for online communion say it is disobedient not to constantly offer communion. And it’s a refusal of God’s gifts of love and mercy not to find ways to be engaged in communion. All that’s required, they say, is that we repent of our sins, that we seek to lead a new life, and that we live in charity with all.

Now the arguments against are a little more focused. They’re about the embodiment of the sacrament in the physical presence of the gathered community. The gathering of the community, God speaking and working to us in relationship with the people around us is absolutely essential for those who argue against online communion.

I want to offer you a word of grace. I’m not going to tell you what to do.

Communion is a means of grace and a blessing and so I’m not too worried about guarding it too closely. What if the means of grace got loose? Hmm, something interesting might happen.

And in our polity, in our church, clergy are entrusted with the sacraments, with baptism and communion. I trust the clergy with them. I ordained those clergy, at least some of them. I trust the clergy with them. I trust you clergy, my colleagues, to make good judgments and discernments and to practice appropriately in your context God’s means of grace.

I believe that God can work through what we do in faith. So if you offer online communion; if you don’t offer online communion; if you offer a love feast as an alternative; God can adapt. The Holy Spirit can find a way into the gathering of your community online as well as in person.

But I don’t want any clergy person to feel that they are being asked to do something they don’t feel comfortable with, they don’t feel has integrity with their faith and their understanding of the gospel.

I leave you with this line from one of Charles Wesley’s hymns, “the Spirit saves, the letter kills.” So be of good spirit, act faithful to the witness of the Holy Spirit with your holy spirit. Lead your communities with confidence and trust that God will make up the difference if we have fallen short.

God bless you as you prepare for worship on Sunday and in the weeks to come as we continue to practice safe distancing so that the coronavirus can touch and harm as few people as possible. God bless you all.

For Further Study

Celebrating Easter together during this time of physical separation

Production is underway for a Greater Northwest Area-wide celebration of Easter, and we are inviting you to participate! Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky will deliver an Easter message complemented by the musical and vocal gifts of people across the Area.

Lay and clergy members are encouraged to send one favorite church-related Easter photo for possible use during a portion of the Easter celebration.* Please submit one photo to photos@greaternw.org by noon on Friday, April 3, 2020. Photos should be at least 1920 pixels wide x 1,080 pixels high.

Bishop Stanovsky has invited Oregon-Idaho Conference Secretary, the Rev. Laura Jaquith Bartlett, to design the worship experience along with Pacific Northwest Conference Director of Connectional Ministries, the Rev. David Valera.

They are producing the 30-40-minute service so that local churches can adopt it in its entirety or choose elements to blend into what they are already preparing. The elements include the Bishop’s message, a variety of musical components, and special liturgy created for this unique Easter celebration.

A weblink to downloadable video files will be distributed to assigned and appointed local church pastors no later than Wednesday, April 8.

The full worship service will be available to view on Easter morning at 7 am Mountain Time, 6 am Pacific Time, and 5 am Alaska Time at the following locations:

  • Greater Northwest Area Facebook – Visit
  • Greater Northwest Area Vimeo Page – Visit
  • Alaska Conference Facebook Page – Visit
  • Oregon-Idaho Facebook Page – Visit
  • Pacific Northwest Facebook Page – Visit

Local churches on Facebook are encouraged to consider using the Watch Party feature to participate in this service offering alongside other members of their local church.


*By submitting a photo, you are giving permission to The Greater Northwest Area of The United Methodist Church, its churches, and its organizations to use the image provided.

Únase al seminario web, “Webinar”, este próximo miércoles con nuestra Obispa

La obispa Elaine JW Stanovsky invita a los pastores/as y a los laicos en las tres conferencias del Gran Área Episcopal del Noroeste a un seminario web, sobre el impacto que el Coronavirus está teniendo en las iglesias locales de la región.

El seminario web se llevará a cabo este miércoles por la mañana, 1ro de abril, a las 9 a.m., hora del Pacífico (8 a.m., hora de Alaska y 10 a.m., hora de la montaña).

Para participar en el seminario web, debe HACER CLIC AQUÍ para registrarse con anticipación. El registro ya está disponible y todos los laicos y clérigos metodistas unidos en el Gran Noroeste son bienvenidos.

Después de registrarse, recibirá un correo electrónico de confirmación con información sobre cómo unirse al seminario web. Para aquellos que no hayan usado Zoom antes, visite https://greaternw.zoom.us/test antes de la reunión para probar su conexión y descargar el software necesario.

También puede llamar al seminario web por teléfono para escuchar. Los números de llamada se proporcionarán a las personas por correo electrónico después de que se registren.

El seminario web ofrece una oportunidad para que las participantes puedan enviar preguntas durante la conversación y que estas preguntas pueden ser respondidas por la Obispa y otros panelistas que serán invitados a la discusión.

Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) Q&A for Churches

What does the FFCRA require?

FFCRA requires certain employers to provide new, and temporarily available, paid leave to employees who are impacted by COVID-19-related issues in certain ways. Specifically, the FFCRA requires those employers to provide up to 80 hours of paid sick leave and up to 12 weeks of leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), the first 10 days of which are unpaid.

Does the FFCRA apply to churches and other religious organizations?

FAQ provided by the General Council on Finance & Administration.

In general, the FMLA applies to any employer which is “engaged in commerce” and which employs at least 50 people. For the purposes of the leave provided by the FFCRA, an “employer” must be engaged in commerce and must have fewer than 500 employees. Thus, churches and religious organizations that already must comply with the FMLA will likely have to provide the 12 weeks of leave created by the FFCRA, unless they have 500+ employees. Those that have not previously been subject to FMLA requirements because they have fewer than 50 employees will have to provide the 12 weeks of leave if they are engaged in commerce.[1]

The paid sick leave requirement applies to the same set of employers – i.e., employers engaged in commerce that have fewer than 500 employees.[2]

When is the FFCRA effective?

The FFCRA paid leave requirements become effective as of April 1, 2020 and remain in effect through December 31, 2020.

Do part-time employees receive 80 hours of paid sick leave?

No. Part-time employees are eligible to receive an amount of paid leave equal to the average number of hours the employee works over a 2-week period.

How would an employee be eligible for the paid sick leave?

An employee would be eligible to receive this paid leave if the employee is unable to work or telework for any of the following reasons:

  1. The employee is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID–19. 
  2. The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID–19.
  3. The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID–19 and seeking a medical diagnosis.
  4. The employee is caring for an individual who is subject to an order as described in one of the first two items in this list.
  5. The employee must care for a child because the child’s school or daycare is closed or because the child’s childcare provider is unavailable due to COVID–19 precautions.
  6. The employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor.

How much is the employer required to pay an employee who takes this paid sick leave?

In general, the employee would be paid the employee’s regular rate of pay, if the employee is taking the sick leave because of one of the first three reasons listed above. However, an employer would not be required to pay more than $511 per day and $5,110 total.

If the employee is taking the sick leave for one of the last three reasons listed above, the employer must pay the employee at least 2/3 of the employee’s regular pay rate, up to maximum of $200 daily and $2,000 total.

Can an employer require an employee to use already-provided paid sick leave first?

No. If an employee is unable to work for any of the six reasons listed above, the employee may choose to first use the up to 80 hours of paid sick leave provided by the FFCRA. This paid sick leave is in addition to other paid leave provided by the employer.

How would an employee be eligible for the 12 weeks of FMLA leave?

The 12 weeks of FMLA leave provided by the FFCRA are available to an employee who is “unable to work (or telework) due to a need for leave to care for the son or daughter under 18 years of age of such employee if the school or place of care has been closed, or the child care provider of such son or daughter is unavailable, due to a public health emergency.”

Are all 12 weeks paid?

No. The FFCRA does not require the first 10 days of the FMLA leave to be paid. However, an employee may substitute other paid leave provided by the employer (vacation, sick, personal, etc.) during those 10 days. The employee could also use the 80 hours of paid sick leave provided by the FFCRA for those 10 days. Afterwards, an employer must then provide paid leave for up to 10 subsequent weeks.

How much is the employer required to pay during those 10 weeks?

The FFCRA requires an employer to pay at a rate that is at least 67% of the employee’s regular pay rate. However, the employer is not required to pay more than $200 per day, even if that is less than 2/3 of the employee’s regular pay rate. The FFCRA also limits the total amount that must be paid by the employer over the 10-week span to $10,000.[3]

Are churches and religious organizations eligible for the tax credits associated with these paid leaves even if they do not pay income taxes?

Yes. A church or other religious employer has access to tax credits to offset the costs of providing the paid leave required by the FFCRA. The credits are not against income taxes but are instead immediately applied to payroll taxes submitted and paid via IRS Form 941.

Are there limits to the amount of credits that can be claimed?

Yes. The credit that can be claimed for paid leave provided to an employee pursuant to the FFCRA is limited to the maximums that employers are required to pay for such leave. For example, if an employer paid an employee who was unable to work for 12 weeks in order to care for a child whose daycare facility was closed because of COVID-19 a total of $15,000, the employer could only claim a credit for $12,000.

Are any other costs recoverable?

The FFCRA provides for an additional credit based on the healthcare insurance costs related to an employee who takes paid leave under the FFCRA.  

What other resources are available?

The Department of Labor has released the following:

The Internal Revenue Service has made some information available about the process for claiming credits against payroll taxes. Additional guidance from both is expected over the coming weeks.

This Q&A document is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as legal or tax advice. Organizations with questions about the applicability of the FFCRA to their specific circumstances should consult with a legal or tax professional.


[1] Whether or not an employer is engaged in commerce depends upon the facts and circumstances applicable to that employer. Churches and other religious organizations could be deemed to be engaged in commerce if they, among other possibilities, have unrelated business income or operate a camp, day care, school, etc.

[2] The FFCRA does allow for an exemption for employers with fewer than 50 employees if providing the paid leave required by the FFCRA would “jeopardize the viability of the [employer] as a going concern.” This exemption would be governed by regulations issued by the Department of Labor.

[3] If combined with the 80 hours of paid sick leave provided by the FFCRA, the employee would be eligible to receive up to $12,000 over a 12-week span.

Conducting memorial services during COVID-19: tips for how to make meaningful connection

In the best of times planning and officiating at funerals and memorials can be both very challenging and rewarding. In these times of Stay-At-Home and Do-Not-Gather orders the challenges and opportunities abound. The following suggestions and resources are offered as an invitation to consider how we can best support those in our our congregations and communities, who are grieving the loss of loved ones, during these especially difficult times. The following are recommended resources from Rev. Marshall Wattman-Turner, Abundant Health Coordinator for the Oregon-Idaho Conference and trained chaplain. Your comments and suggestions are welcome: marshall@umoi.org.

  • Find Out Who Will Be Involved in Making Decisions regarding Funeral / Memorial Arrangements. If several people will be involved or need to be consulted, it may help you to identify a primary point of contact.
  • If your congregation is already set up for online worship, consider how these resources might be adapted to livestream or record and distribute a Memorial Service.
  • You Don’t Need to Try and Re-Invent the Wheel The United Methodist General Board of Discipleship provides a wealth of resources related to COVID-19 and Funeral & Memorial Services:
  • Consider A Virtual Wake to provide an opportunity for sharing memories in whatever manner works best for those involved. It could be a live event via telephone or online, or an invitation could be extended to share personal remembrances over an extended period by mail, email, or online. If you are uncertain about how to proceed, ask your local Funeral Home / Mortuary for guidance or assistance. Reminiscing together can be framed by Scripture or Prayer.
  • Consider the use of social media and its practical implications for a memorial service.
  • The National Funeral Director’s Association (NFDA) includes several resources including: When a Loved One Dies During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Ways to practice self-care while grieving 

  • Write a letter about your loved one and memories you have, make copies and mail them out to friends and family. Invite them to reply to you with memories of their own.
  • Reach out to family and friends by phone. They’ll enjoy hearing from you and it’s an opportunity for you to share a memory of your loved one and for them to do the same.
  • Keep a journal. As you are inspired to do so, write about memories of your loved one and how you are feeling about your grief. Share those memories with others as you are comfortable in doing so.
  • Make self-care a priority

A Memorial Service can be Postponed.  Grief Can Not.

  • Amidst the shattering of life, as you’ve known it, grief is more than “just a feeling” It encompasses our whole being: Body, Mind, Heart, and Spirit. Grief may involve dozens of feelings—sometimes contradictory feelings—that are a response to losing someone you love. Because grief is such a complex experience that is different for every person, it is important to find support and take good care of your emotional and physical needs. While grief is a normal, natural, and fully human response to loss, it can be cumulative and complicated, when denied or delayed.
  • Learn More About the Journey of Grief from the Center For Loss and Transition.
  • ACES Connections gathers resources for Trauma-Informed Care. Daren Casagrande is a Mental Health Therapist in Davis, Calif., where the first case of COVID-19 in California was identified. His recommendations include some Best Practices For Conducting Sessions Online.

Vanco offers Online Giving fee waiver to UMC churches during COVID-19

Vanco, a partner of The United Methodist Church’s General Council on Finance and Administration, currently serves approximately 25,000 churches and faith-based organizations as clients. Hosted online giving pages from Vanco Payment Solutions are a great way for members and guests to give from their laptop, tablet, phone or any device with an Internet connection.

For any United Methodist church that enrolls with Vanco, the monthly fee for the Start Plan will be waived for a full year and for those that enroll with the Sustain Plan, the monthly fee would be waived for the first 3 months.

This service allows churches to accept recurring donations for weekly offerings, pledges or one-time gifts to an unlimited number of funds. Vanco does not work in a contracted manner and churches are under no long-term obligation and will not incur a cancellation fee should they choose to end services. 

Learn more about Vanco at https://www.vancopayments.com/egiving/umc. Have questions? Contact Peter Johnson at Peter.Johnson@vancopayments.com or 952-352-8136.


The website givingfees.com offers a chart with fee comparisons between a number of vendors serving nonprofit and church ministries. Vanco fees are listed under their GivePlus branding, and this offer is not included in the chart.

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