UPDATE From Bishop Bob 08-20-2020


Members and Friends of the Desert Southwest Conference,

 

WITH DEEP THANKSGIVING . . .I start this update with a word of thanksgiving for the courage of our

laity and clergy in the face of a very difficult situation. As people of faith, we are taught to know the love

of Jesus lived out in the community of the body of Christ, the Church. Since the onslaught of the

Coronavirus, our churches have demonstrated extraordinary courage and compassion. Acknowledging

the threat to our congregations, you ceased activities of our church life, most especially in-person

worship. These activities form the very basis of our existence as the Church and I know how difficult and

painful this has been. Yet, you did so as a means of saving lives and flattening the curve of a new

disease about which we are still learning.

 

Acknowledging that this has not been an easy time, I affirm your willingness to be a part of the solution,

not of the problem as we strive for unity against the spread of the Coronavirus. Remembering that

ministry is not confined to the walls of the church, I also again and again affirm the positive learnings

and experiments you have engaged in to enable you to offer the grace of Jesus Christ in new ways.

 

Now, due in part to our efforts of prayer, of wearing masks, maintaining social distancing, observing strict

hygiene practices and the suspension of in-person worship and gatherings, we are beginning to see a

slow improvement in the number of deaths and positive cases.

 

AN ENCOURAGEMENT . . . While we wait for the moment when we can meet the benchmarks for

entering Phase 1 of the DSC Ministry in the Season of COVID and Beyond (download here), I encourage

you to continue to engage in safe practices that have demonstrated effectiveness in controlling the spread

of the virus. While the continuing presence of COVID-19 in Nevada and Arizona make it important

that we continue our suspension of in-person worship and other gatherings, there are exceptions

being allowed for a variety of reasons.

 

FORWARD MOVEMENT . . . Because I know it has been very difficult for our laity and clergy to not be

able to meet in person, and because I know that in specific locations, the threat of contracting COVID-19

is lower than in other places, you may be interested in these new exceptions even as we wait for the time

when we can all resume ministry in-person. If you would like to pursue any of these options, I ask that you

submit your plan and covenant for re-opening which should have been created along with a team of

leaders from your congregation. Your church’s plan and covenant should be submitted to your District

Superintendent who I am asking to work with you and your team. On a case-by-case basis, your District

Superintendent, in consultation with the DSC Covid-19 Response Team will review and may approve

your local church plan for:

 

 



1. Small groups of no more than 10 gathering at churches for purposes of ministry including, but not

limited to memorial services, Bible studies, support groups, and recording or live-streaming of worship.

2. Outdoor worship in locations where the rate of COVID infection has been low for 14 days. District

Superintendents have suggestions for websites that you might use for this information. If you have a

trusted source of statistical information that you would like to share, I would welcome your input!

Drive in worship following stringent precautions detailed in a plan. (See examples in #4 in “Resources”

below.)

 

AN INVITATION TO YOU . . .These are just a few of the possibilities we might engage in even now.

I invite you to use your creativity to design additional ways of ministering. Share your ideas with your

colleagues, your District Superintendent, and with me so we can collaborate.

 

 

RESOURCES OFFERED TO YOU . . . Along with your plan and covenant, we are offering some

resources that may be helpful to you for your reference.

 

Have you considered the use of signage to clarify your requirements (masking, health concerns, etc.)?

Several examples of signage that you are free to utilize are on the conference website.

1. As we learn more about emerging concerns about liability, we strongly encourage you to use a

waiver for third-party groups, as well as for volunteers from the church during any interaction with the

public through food pantries, clothing closets, etc. These waivers are being created and will be on the

website soon.

2. As we invite church members to be present for hospitality ministries or program ministries, we have

created a covenant (download here) that will be discussed in the legal webinar described below.

Some samples to request an exception or for a full re-opening plan are available for you to utilize as

models and templates if they can be helpful.

 

A BLESSING TO YOU . . . Just as I began this update with thanksgiving for your courage in face of the

Coronavirus pandemic, I again offer my heartfelt appreciation for you. I pray for the day when we will

leave the pandemic behind us. Until then, as we are reminded in Philippians 2:1-4, “Therefore if there is

any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if

any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same

love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.” Let that one purpose be the glorification of God in Jesus

Christ through our worship, our ministry and our mission.

 

In Christ,

Bishop Bob