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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– 2 Corinthians 9:7, MSG

Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky

An important update regarding the 2020 GNW Shared Annual Conference Session

April 16, 2020

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

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

Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky

Attached: Cancellation of Annual Conference June 2020

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

Question: Can we meet outdoors on Easter?

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


QUESTION

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

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

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

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

Pastor

ANSWER

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

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

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

Bishop Elaine

Related Information

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

Los obispos de la jurisdicción occidental ofrecen orientación de cómo mantener la celebración del Sacramento de la Comunión

Carta al clero metodista unido de la jurisdicción occidental
La Iglesia Metodista Unida
Colegio de Obispos de la Jurisdicción Oeste

Amados/as siervos/as de Cristo,

Escribimos, como sus líderes episcopales, en estos días sin precedentes de cambio social debido a la crisis de COVID-19. Estamos agradecidos por las muchas formas en que han respondido, aprendiendo nuevas destrezas y experimentando mientras buscan responder a las necesidades pastorales de sus comunidades.

Hemos recibido muchas preguntas sobre la comunión en línea: ¿Es esto posible? Los presbíteros ordenados de la Iglesia Metodista Unida han sido apartados para cuidar y administrar los sacramentos en la vida de la Iglesia. Los pastores locales con nombramientos en iglesias locales también tienen este privilegio extendido. ¿Cómo vamos a ser el cuerpo de Cristo en estos días que vivimos cuando no podemos encontrarnos en la presencia el uno del otro, sino únicamente reunirnos en línea o por otros medios?

El Sacramento de la Santa Comunión es un medio de gracia en nuestra tradición Wesleyana. A través de este sacramento, experimentamos el misterio de la gracia preveniente, justificadora y santificadora de Dios. En esta santa cena, cuando llegamos a la mesa con corazones arrepentidos y agradecidos experimentamos a Cristo totalmente presente, y recordamos lo que Dios ha hecho a través de Jesucristo por nuestro bien y del mundo entero. A través de la Santa Comunión, somos traídos a una relación segura con Cristo y entre nosotros mismos como miembros del cuerpo de Cristo, a través del tiempo y el espacio en que vivimos.

En estos momentos en que no podemos encontrarnos en persona, creemos que es importante ofrecer mutuamente este medio de gracia vital. No estamos indicando que la Santa Comunión se celebre en todas nuestras congregaciones en este tiempo de distanciamiento social. Sin embargo, apoyamos a nuestros clérigos que a través de la reflexión y la oración han llegado al lugar de creer que su congregación se fortalecería en esta hora al compartir la Santa Comunión. Confiamos en la sabiduría y la fidelidad de nuestros cleros para discernir tales asuntos pastorales en sus contextos particulares.

Especialmente en este tiempo de separación física entre nosotros, la Santa Comunión puede ser un medio del poder sanador de Dios. Permanecemos abiertos a lo que Dios nos está enseñando en este momento. Creemos en la importancia de ser comunidad, de estar presentes y juntos en la Mesa de nuestro Señor, arrepentidos de nuestros pecados y buscando vivir en paz los unos con los otros. Apoyamos a nuestros cleros en sus esfuerzos por encontrar formas de llevar los medios de gracia al pueblo de Dios sabiendo que el Espíritu Santo, nos hace uno en Cristo, unidos el uno con el otro y somos uno en el ministerio para todo el mundo, y esto es infalible con nosotros. Recuerda que te han confiado esta Santa Cena. Reverentemente prepare a su congregación para recibir los dones de Dios que están destinados su pueblo:

Algunos de ustedes se están reuniendo a través de transmisión en vivo, via Zoom y otras plataformas. Otros se conectan por teléfono o dependen de material impreso o un disco DVD. Aquí hay algunas cosas que debe considerar:

  1. Antes de proveer la Santa Comunión a través de estos nuevos medios, diga a las personas lo que necesitarán tener a mano para participar, teniendo en cuenta que no queremos aumentar la ansiedad de ellos o poner en peligro su seguridad al exigir un viaje al supermercado durante este tiempo. ¿Qué elementos básicos pueden tener las personas a la mano que sean convenientes y puedan usarse? Brinde a los miembros de su iglesia y a otras personas que elijan participar con usted en la Santa Comunión suficiente orientación para ayudarlos a experimentar plenamente la presencia de Cristo nuestro Señor.
  2. Celebrar la comunión en línea nos brinda la oportunidad de profundizar la comprensión de la Santa Cena en nuestras congregaciones. Al reunir a su comunidad de fe para celebrar la Santa Cena, discuta nuestra teología de la Eucaristía y cómo es este medio de gracia nos une a Cristo y a los demás. Este Santo Misterio: Una comprensión metodista unida de la Santa Cena es un recurso útil que nos mantiene unidos en nuestro entendimiento común de la comunión. Se puede encontrar en línea AQUÍ.
  3. Para aquellos que no pueden conectar la adoración de la congregación a través de la tecnología y, por lo tanto, los elementos no pueden ser consagrados en línea, recomendamos que:
    • Usted compre los elementos de la comunión pre-empacados (por ejemplo, vea: ESTE ENLACE). Si elige usar estos elementos, recuerde consagrarlos antes de enviarlos a los miembros y constituyentes de la iglesia.
    • Puede optar por enviar por correo estos elementos consagrados o con la ayuda de líderes laicos puede entregarlos en los hogares de las personas mientras practican el distanciamiento social.
    • Algunas congregaciones ya cuentan con equipos de visitación que distribuyen la comunión. Aconsejamos que los pastores que aún no tienen estos equipos los creen para ayudar a participar en el intercambio de la Sagrada Comunión.
    • Creemos que el contacto humano es crítico para aquellos que no pueden unirse en vivo a través de la tecnología. Cuando estos elementos consagrados se envían a los hogares de las personas, debe seguirse con una llamada del pastor o miembro del equipo de visitas para que las oraciones de comunión puedan ofrecerse juntas. Es posible que desee agregar una liturgia escrita a los elementos cuando los envíe. No olvides practicar precauciones de seguridad.

Seguimos orando contigo y por ti. Usted está proporcionando un centro vital de conexión comunitaria y la esperanza que se encuentra en las Buenas Nuevas de Jesucristo. Que Dios continúe equipándote y fortaleciéndote para el ministerio al que has sido llamado.

En servicio contigo,

Robert T. Hoshibata, President
Minerva G. Carcaño, Secretary
Grant Hagiya
Elaine JW Stanovsky
Karen P. Oliveto

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

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

Lucas 10:25b, 27


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

Ama a Dios | Ama a tu prójimo | Tu vivirás

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

AMANDO A DIOS MIENTRAS PROTEGEMOS LA SALUD PÚBLICA

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

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

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

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

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

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

AMANDO A NUESTROS VECINOS

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

COMPARTIENDO LA CARGA EN CONEXIÓN

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

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

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

HAGAMOS UNA FECHA PERMANENTE …

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

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

Obispa Elaine JW Stanovsky

Western Jurisdiction Bishops offer guidance for the Observance of Holy Communion

A Letter to the United Methodist Clergy of the Western Jurisdiction
The United Methodist Church
From the WJ College of Bishops

Beloved Servants of Christ, 

We write, as your episcopal leaders, in these unprecedented days of social change due to the COVID-19 crisis. We are grateful for the many ways you have responded, learning new skills and experimenting as you seek to respond to the pastoral needs of your people.

We have received many questions about online communion: Is this possible? Ordained elders of The United Methodist Church have been set apart to care for the Sacraments in the life of the Church. Local pastors appointed to local churches are extended this privilege as well. How are we to be the body of Christ in these days we are living when we cannot meet in each other’s presence but instead gather online or through other means?

The Sacrament of Holy Communion is a means of grace in our Wesleyan tradition. Through it, we experience the mystery of God’s prevenient, justifying, and sanctifying grace. In this meal, we experience Christ fully present to us as we come to the Table with penitent and grateful hearts to remember what God has done through Jesus Christ for our sake and the sake of the whole world. Through Holy Communion, we are brought into saving relationship with Christ and with one another as members of Christ’s body across time and space. 

In these times when we cannot meet in person, we believe it is important to offer one another this vital means of grace. We are not prescribing that Holy Communion be celebrated in all of our congregations in this time of social distancing. However, we stand with our clergy who through reflection and prayer have come to the place of believing that their congregation would be strengthened in this hour through the sharing of Holy Communion. We trust the wisdom and the faithfulness of our Clergy to discern such pastoral matters in their own context. 

Especially in this time of physical separation from one another, Holy Communion can be a conduit of God’s healing power. We remain open to what God is teaching us in this moment. We believe in the importance of being community, present together at the Table of our Lord, repentant of our sin and seeking to live in peace with one another. We support you our Clergy in your efforts to find ways to bring the means of grace to God’s people knowing that the Holy Spirit who alone can make us one with Christ, one with each other, and one in ministry to all the world, is unfailingly with us. Remember that you have been entrusted with this sacred meal. Reverently prepare your congregation to receive the gifts of God that are meant for the people of God:

Some of you are gathering through live-streaming, Zoom, and other face-to-face platforms. Still others are connecting by phone, or are relying on printed material or a DVD disc. Here are some things for you to consider:

  1. In advance of providing Holy Communion through these new means, tell people what they will need to have on hand to participate, being mindful that we don’t want to increase people’s anxiety or jeopardizing their safety by requiring a trip to the grocery store during this time. What basic elements might people have on hand that are familiar and could be used?  Give your church members and others who may choose to participate with you in Holy Communion enough guidance to help them observe it fully present to Christ our Lord.  
  2. Moving to online communion provides us with an opportunity to deepen our congregations’ understanding of Holy Communion. As you gather your faith community for Holy Communion, discuss our theology of the Eucharist and how it is a means of grace that binds us to Christ and one another. This Holy Mystery: A United Methodist Understanding of Holy Communion is a helpful resource that holds us together in our common understanding. It can be found online HERE.
  3. For those who are unable to connect with the worshipping congregation through technology and thus the elements cannot be consecrated online, we recommend that:
    • You purchase pre-filled communion elements (for example, see: LINK). If you choose to use these elements, consecrate them before having them sent to church members and constituents. 
    • You may choose to mail these consecrated elements or with the help of lay leaders deliver them to people’s homes while practicing social distancing. 
    • Some congregations already have communion visitation teams in place. We advise that pastors who do not already have these teams create them to assist in participating in the sharing of Holy Communion.
    • We believe human contact is critical for those unable to join by livestream. When these consecrated elements are sent to people’s homes, it should be followed with a call from the pastor or visitation team member so that communion prayers can be offered together. You may want to add a written liturgy to the elements when you send them forth. Don’t forget to practice safety precautions.

We continue to pray with and for you. You are providing a vital center of community connection and the hope that is found in the Good News of Jesus Christ. May God continue to equip and strengthen you for the ministry to which you’ve been called.

In service with you,

Robert T. Hoshibata, President                        
Minerva G. Carcaño, Secretary                        
Grant Hagiya      
Elaine JW Stanovsky
Karen P. Oliveto

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

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

Luke 10:25b, 27


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

Love God  |  Love your neighbor  |  You will live

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

LOVING GOD WHILE PROTECTING PUBLIC HEALTH

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

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

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

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

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

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

LOVING NEIGHBORS

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

SHARING THE BURDEN IN CONNECTION

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

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

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

LET’S MAKE IT A STANDING DATE…

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

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

Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky

Respuestas de nuestras Iglesias Locales al COVID-19

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


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

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

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

Tu tienes muchas preguntas sin respuesta

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

Conferencia general. Conferencias Anuales. Conferencia Jurisdiccional.

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

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

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

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

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

¿Qué esperanza nos ofrece Dios?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Obispa Elaine JW Stanovsky

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

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


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

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

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

You have a lot of Unanswered Questions

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

General Conference. Annual Conferences. Jurisdictional Conference.

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

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

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

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

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

What hope does God offer?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky

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