Dear Northern Illinois Conference,
Today, the President issued new guidelines to help stop the spread of the coronavirus in our nation asking that people avoid social gatherings of more than 10 people for the next 15 days. On March 15, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued its guidelines that for the next eight weeks all gatherings of 50 people or more should be canceled or postponed.
I think it’s time we suspend in-person worship services in our churches until further notice. But that doesn’t mean we stop being in ministry. In fact, we need to put our ministry in high gear! As people experience fear, uncertainty, and isolation, we need to find new ways of reaching out and sharing spiritual strength as well as emotional support and ways to serve those in need. I would also highly discourage in-person meetings and Bible studies at least for the next couple of weeks.
If the restrictions of the full eight weeks per the CDC guidelines are instituted, that takes us into Holy Week and Easter. We still want those important days in the life of every Christian to be as meaningful as possible, so plan now. If we are not able to hold in-person services, churches should have a plan “b” to share their message.
We’ve created a new NIC Facebook group for clergy and church leaders to start sharing ideas and resources about what’s working and what they’ve learned in being a “virtual church” during these unprecedented times. Be sure to join the group and engage in this discussion to learn new ways to be in ministry to our faith communities. We are also working on an online training session for later this week to learn technical tools and how to develop content for Livestreaming services. Look for details soon.
Also, remember our elderly, homeless and school students who are impacted by the restrictions and closures and who will need our extra care and support.
To watch my entire message click on the video link below. For resources, visit umcnic.org/coronavirusresources. We are updating this webpage daily during this quickly evolving situation.
Be gentle with one another, be kind, and please, be safe.
You are all in my prayers,
Bishop Sally Dyck
Psalm 46: 1-2 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea…