Honoring GNJers Working on the Front Lines in new Relay series
Clergy Vacation Recommendations
- Renewal Leave: Due to the stress and pressure of ministry during COVID-19, we are encouraging all our clergy to take a two-week renewal leave during the last two weeks of June. We ask our SPRC committees to work with our clergy and permit this renewal leave even if the pastor had a recent renewal leave or is planning to take one in the near future. This is a special COVID-19 renewal leave. To assist, we have planned full online worship services that the congregation may use to stream on Facebook, Zoom or YouTube. The services will be available in Korean, Spanish and English. Instructions for how to participate in these worship services will be made available in next week’s essential information and actions email.
- Clergy Vacations: Depending on their years of service, clergy receive a four-week or five-week vacation that runs from July 1 to June 30. Some clergy had to cancel vacation plans because of COVID-19. We normally have a use or lose vacation policy; however this year, we are asking all congregations for this one time to extend one additional week of vacation from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021 if a pastor had to cancel vacation because of COVID-19.
Grieving During COVID-19 and Beyond
I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, just as it is well with your soul.
In this extraordinary time of the global COVID-19 virus, health, healing and resiliency are some of the greatest gifts we can offer to others. These begin as we take care of our body, mind and soul. This is what God desires for us.
A team comprised of clergy and laity with expertise and experience in the area of wellness, has curated this Wellness resource to help clergy in their journey towards holistic health during these challenging times.
For clergy enrolled in the GNJ Health Care Plan through Wespath:
- MDLIVE: provides virtual/remote doctor consultation. Call 888-750-4991, download the mobile app, or visit healthflex/webmd.com. Costs associated with this service will be waived until mid-June.
- Employee Assistance Program: includes eight visits of professional counseling for you and your dependents. The EAP line crisis line is available 24/7 at no additional cost for support and additional resources. Call 866-881-6800.
- Visit the Wespath website or call WebMD at 866-302-5742 for further assistance. Alexa Taylor is GNJ Insurance and Benefits Manager
For clergy not covered under Wespath Health Services:
- Optum Public Crisis Line: 866-342-6892, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This number is free of charge and available to anyone. You can also visit its Public Crisis Portal.
- HealthCare.gov offers information on affordable plans for part time clergy.
- Mercer County Crisis Line: provides emotional support to people in distress or crisis. 8 a.m.-10 p.m., 7 days a week. 609-896-2120; 609-585-2244
- Domestic Violence Statewide Hotline: 800-572-SAFE (7233)
- Suicide Prevention Lifeline (24/7) – 800-273-8255
Regenerating Mind, Body and Soul
Now, more than ever, in a time when we are called to care even more deeply for others, taking good care of ourselves is essential.
Irritability, fatigue, loss of sleep, difficulty anxiousness and depression are all signs of a body, soul and mind that are being depleted without rejuvenation. When you notice any of these signs or others notice it within you, it is time to reflect on what you can do to achieve balance. There is no doubt that it is natural to experience some of this during a crisis; it is the body’s natural way to react to a challenge. You can take steps even in the most challenging time to rejuvenate and experience resiliency. Here are some things you can do every day.
- Write three things you are thankful for today
- Go for a walk
- Exercise for 15 minutes
- Read a Bible verse and meditate on it for 15 minutes
- Call a colleague or friend and ask how they are doing and share with them how you are doing
- Make a list and prioritize what is urgent and important and let the other things go
- Consider setting up a text chain with close friends, family members or colleagues.
Exercise: If exercise is new for you, begin slowly and work your way up to more strenuous routines. If you have any health concerns, consult your doctor or a health professional before starting a new exercise program.
- Take a walk – and enjoy noticing what’s around you. Walk and pray for people, places around you. If you walk inside your home, turn on some music and enjoy moving.
- FitOn App – provides ideas and plans for fitness, nutrition, wellness
Diet: A healthy diet is essential for good health. Eating a variety of foods and consuming less salt, sugars and saturated and industrially-produced trans-fats, are essential for healthy diet.
- WebMD Health and Wellness Coaches help you set realistic goals, get motivated, and create a support structure. Call 866-302-5742
- Weight Watchers, Wespath WW Wellness Hotline at 866-204-2885
- Virgin Pulse – offers nutritional guidance as well as tracking and stress reducing tools.
- Wellness Apps offered by Wespath – free apps to help you get in shape and healthy.
Counseling and Therapy
- Wespath offers free resources for work, home and emotional support to help you cope. If you are feeling worried or stressed about COVID-19, call their toll-free help line at 866-342-6892.
- Sanvello App: provides clinically proven therapies for dealing with stress, anxiety, depression, or whatever you may be going through. Free access for Wespath participants.
- Next Gen Ministries has put together resources for families with children including virtual day camp and more.
- Little Flower Yoga – offers classes for children to help deal with stress.
Resources for Parents
- Child Care Aware: provides resources for families striving to be their child’s first and best teacher.
- Child Fun provides articles, activities, crafts and interactive features to make your in-home experience a better one.
- ZOOM – Host meals and celebrations. Play Trivia with friends and family.
- Go Noodle offers free short games and exercises for children.
Caring for your soul is of upmost importance for a joyful discipleship and leadership in ministry, especially during times of crisis.
Calm Place: Create a quiet space for yourself to just be and where you can do things like read a book play an instrument, read the Bible, pray, meditate, etc.
Communal Table: A place to build connection with others: virtually using technology such as ZOOM; Facetime; HouseParty (Group Video Chat) to share a time with a loved one as you both eat a meal in your own space, or physically, a place where you play games, cook together; garden or build something together.
Prayer Chair: A place where you can go to meditate on Scripture: Use your Bible, hymnal, songs of praise and worship; prayer journal; devotional books
Worship Center: a place where you can worship in community (with those at home, or virtually with your church family). Gather together items that represent God’s presence in that space. Use color, symbols, the elements-water, light, stones, flowers, leaves.
Other Activities to Feed Your Soul
- Labyrinths – print and color. Self-guided sessions.
- Taizé – the brothers of the Taizé are offering daily prayers HERE.
- Journaling: a good tool to feed your soul and cope with stress during crisis.
- Google Arts and Culture – offers virtual tours of museums, movie locations, musical events, children’s entertainment and more.
- Prayerful coloring – A link to a Mandala by Gay Brunt Miller Designs
- New Jersey Performing Arts Center – provides you access to concerts and other performances online.
Clergy Questions on COVID-19
Rev. George Morris has graciously agreed to coach clergy on steps that are appropriate for their congregation and location. Pastors may ask a question below or request a time to talk about how to lead and set up appropriate measures in your congregation.