Letter from the Bishop December 10, 2020

As we continue in the ninth month of the 2020 coronavirus outbreak, all of us are trying to figure out how to be faithful to our mission, maintain public safety, and serve one another with joy and kindness. Wilderness times are filled with unknowns. It’s difficult to come up with long-term plans; however, we can set short-term goals.

We have answered questions about remote (online) council and congregational meetings when congregations have asked. As the pandemic lingers on, more congregations will face this question, so we have looked at Texas and Louisiana non-profit law and are offering these guidelines.

The most recent interview with Dr. Michael Osterholm, Director for the Center of Infectious Disease Research and Policy and Professor at the University of Minnesota, suggests we will still be dealing with this virus next year at this time. As Jeremiah said to his people in Babylon, we’re going to be here for a while. Live into it. We know we can’t stop living. We need groceries. We need school. We need worship; on the other hand, we can’t overwhelm our hospitals. So, we will be doing a careful dance for a while.

  • ELCA resource: Resuming Care-Fille Worship and Sacramental Life During a Pandemic in English and Spanish
  • The ELCA Considerations for Returning to In-person Worship in English and Spanish. These guidelines recommend waiting until Phase 2 (as determined by White House guidelines or state and local before inviting people back into your building. This is prudent council.
  • Guidelines for Coming Back Together as a Congregation English or Español.
  • Coming Back Together for Worship Resources that can be found here.
  • The letter from May 6, 2020 includes some updated recommendations for returning to in-person worship.

Louisiana Information regarding Outdoor Religious Services Guidelines and what type of businesses can be open has been provided.

Texas Open Texas – where you can find the Open Texas Checklists and schedules for opening that are regularly updated.

Sermons by the Presiding Bishop and the Bishop and Bishop’s Associates are available here. Please feel free to borrow from these sermons or use the videos, dropping them into your livestream. We also offer for use our 50/40/10 Sermon Series.

If you are a pastor or deacon and test positive for coronavirus, please notify the synod office as soon as possible. We need to know, and we may be able to help you get pastoral coverage.

Think about finances with your leaders. Promote online giving (for example, check out Tithely) or sending tithes and offerings in by mail. Have a frank conversation about finances with your members. Churches have salaries, mortgages, utilities and ministries to maintain. Think about best financial practices, including who will process checks that arrive by mail, always in groups of two or more. We recommend that you have an offering time in your online services us the time to share impact stories of your congregation’s essential ministries.

As it is, there are many parts, but only one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you.”

~ 1 Corinthians 12:20-22a