Lovers of Christ,
These are unprecedented times to be a spiritual leader. I have been holding you, your families, your congregations, and your communities in prayer, offering petitions and lighting candles around my house to remind me to rest, breathe and pray. These are challenging times.
A few things to note as we move forward together:
The COVID19 news is changing fast, and so will our recommendations to you. We are taking great care not to pass along anything but accurate and safety conscious suggestions. Consider anything from the Disaster Preparedness Team as something from me. We are working together closely, with one another and state agencies. Right now we strongly recommend that you cancel all in-person church activities for at least two weeks and possibly eight weeks or more. Prepare your people. Find ways to stay in touch with your people. While this is hard, public safety is our primary concern. It is evolving, and so will we.
I want to hear from you – see your faces and hear more about your challenges, collaborations, fears, creativity, and prayers. We are working with the deans to create a plan for me and my staff to connect with you this week, virtually over Zoom. If you don’t have a Zoom account, please create one. It’s free and will be an important way to stay in touch going forward. (You may consider getting a subscription for your church if you don’t yet have one. It runs $12.50 – $17 per month and even the least techie person can often figure it out. I have found it invaluable for sustaining momentum already.)
Your Oregon synod office is closed for the immediate future. We are checking phone and email daily Tuesday-Fridays. The Bishop and Bishop’s Associates are working from home (phone numbers at bottom of page) and Jemae McCanna will be in the office most days to keep things flowing. Email will be a crucial way to stay connected. The website will hold all of our mailings and soon will be a repository of ministry suggestions you can share with one another. Northwest Washington Synod, for example, has had great success with that, and you may want to check out their idea page for clever ways to do ministry in these times.
The Oregon Synod Facebook Page is another excellent way to stay connected. Encourage all your members to like that page, to like the ELCA and other synods’ pages. You will find prayers, ideas, bible studies and so much more! Here’s a prayer I posted on my personal page this morning.
For Patrick, Christ was love, light, truth, peace, laughter, hope. If it works better for you, insert one of those words into this section of his well-loved prayer. I’m making it my mantra today. And wearing green.
Blessed St. Patrick’s Day!