Letters from the Bishop July 8, 2020

In light of both Texas and Louisiana Governor’s statements regarding the spike in COVID-19 cases, and for the safety of the community, I strongly urge you not to move to reopen in-person worship at this time.

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.

  • 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 Governor Edwards entered Phase 2. Information regarding Outdoor Religious Services Guidelines and what type of businesses can be open has been provided. For more information from the State of Louisiana click here. Additional resources are available here or by clicking Local, US, and World Updates from the menu below.

Texas Governor Abbott has launched Open Texas – where you can find the Open Texas Checklists and schedules for opening that are regularly updated.  Texas has entered Phase 3. The May 7, 2020 the executive order establishes the Minimum Standard Health Protocols for COVID-19.  This section is a specific Updated – Checklist for Churches/Places of Worship.  For more information from the State of Texas click here. Additional resources are available here or by clicking Local, US, and World Updates from the menu below.

Sermons by the Presiding Bishop for June 7, 2020 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.

Synod Assembly ReportsMore information on SA 2020

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