Approaching Pentecost with heavy hearts

United Methodists of the Greater Northwest,

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

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

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

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

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

Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky

——–

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clero Metodista Unido y Laicos del Gran Noroeste,

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

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

¿Cómo llegué a esta decisión y qué significa?

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

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

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

¡Ayudaste a mantener a la gente SALUDABLE!

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

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

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

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

MAYO 1

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

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

HAZ EL BIEN. Protege la salud pública

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

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

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

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

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

31 DE MAYO – PENTECOSTÉS

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

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

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

Obispa Elaine JW Stanovsky

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

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


United Methodist Clergy and Laity of the Greater Northwest Area,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky

FOR FURTHER READING

ALASKA

IDAHO

OREGON

WASHINGTON

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– 2 Corinthians 9:7, MSG

Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky

An important update regarding the 2020 GNW Shared Annual Conference Session

April 16, 2020

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

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

Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky

Attached: Cancellation of Annual Conference June 2020

Wednesday Webinar with the Bishop: Freed from Death

But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. – Acts 2: 24

Join us as we resume our weekly Wednesday webinar series with Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky, on Wednesday, April 15, to share our Easter stories. The hour-long webinar begins at 9 amPDT, 10 am MDT, or 8 am AKDT. Clergy and laity from across the Greater Northwest Area are invited to participate.

We apologize for not communicating more clearly that there wouldn’t be a webinar during holy week, but the goal will be to hold this time each Wednesday, moving forward, as we navigate our way through this crisis.

This coming week Bishop Elaine will be discussing, with other panelists, where they see signs of resurrection – life that defies death – in this season of disease and death.

“Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” – John 20: 21

Playing off the lectionary texts for April 19, the prayer and conversation will explore how you keep your own spirit rooted and refreshed in God’s Holy Spirit when death is so close and so real. There will also be discussion around how we minister to others in a time of physical distancing.

Please visit this link to register for Wednesday’s webinar. See you soon.

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.”

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