Essential Actions and Updates for July 28

July 28, 2020 | COVID-19, Essential Actions

Dear Clergy and Congregational Leaders,

This week, as we celebrate the life and ministry of Myrna Bethke, we are reminded of Myrna’s legacy to answer God’s calling to our ministry with love and laughter in our hearts.

The following are the essential actions and information for this week:

1. Health Insurance Premium Rates and new Healthflex Exchange – All clergy and chairpersons of Church Council, Finance and SPRC

The Board of Pension and Health Benefits (CBOPHB) has set the health insurance premium rates for local churches, effective January 1, 2021. Click here. In addition, effective 2021, HealthFlex will no longer offer the traditional stand-alone health plan and instead will offer the HealthFlex Exchange that includes six medical plans, three dental, and three vision plans. Information about these plans will be shared over the coming months and on the website here.

2. Mail-In Ballots – All Annual Conference Clergy and Lay Members

On Thursday, Rev. Shelley Smith, who is serving as acting conference secretary, sent an email outlining procedures for a mail-in ballot for Rule 26, legislation from our Rules Committee to allow annual conference to be held remotely in case of an emergency such as COVID-19. If you are a clergy or lay member to annual conference and believe you should have received this email and did not, please email We will verify your credentials and send you voting information. All ballots must be postmarked by July 31 to be considered.

3. Survey – Lead Pastors

This will be the last weekly survey until September. We thank everyone who has been faithful in responding. The weekly survey continues to provide valuable information for the cabinet to make decisions to serve congregations.  This week’s survey can be found here and will be open through Thursday at 10:00 a.m. in order to process the results and consider at the cabinet’s Monday meeting. Please take a moment now to complete the survey. To check out our results from last week, click here.

4. Shared Ministry Apportionment Holiday

July ends the four months of shared ministry holiday. During this unprecedented season, GNJ is doing everything it can to support congregations through the COVID-19 crisis. One thing we have provided is up to a four month holiday for shared ministry giving. That means congregations that are experiencing significant challenges may not pay up to four months of shared ministry and still receive 100% credit for shared ministry giving. We have been blessed by a number of congregations that have indicated that they will be paying the full 12 months or some indicated they will give 10 months of shared ministry which is helping all of us through the COVID-19 pandemic. If congregations are able to pay 100% of your shared ministry, your giving will help us to repay the money we will borrow to meet the mission and ministry of GNJ.

5. Celebrating the Life of Myrna Bethke – All

More than 1200 people joined us for our service to honor and celebrate the life of Myrna Bethke. You can view the full service, download the bulletin and read a collection of her writings here. We are blessed to have had Myrna as a part of our ministry and ask for your continued prayers for Drew and her entire family.

6. Reopening Guidance – All Clergy, Trustee Chairpersons
Our goal is to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ and ensure zero transmission through United Methodist activity. The landscape for the pandemic continues to change and you are advised to be ready to make changes to your reopening plans based on state government guidance. Before opening church buildings, all congregations in GNJ are to continue to follow the guidelines established by their governors and create a plan according to GNJ guidelines that can be found below.

New Jersey         New York           Pennsylvania      GNJ Guidelines

Thank you for your ministry and leadership.

In Christ,

GNJ Leadership

Quick links to items in this email:
Health Insurance Premium Rates and new Healthflex Exchange
This week’s GNJ Survey
GNJ Survey Results
Myrna Bethke Memorial Service
New Jersey
New York
GNJ Reopening Guidelines