|Dear Clergy and Congregational Leaders,
The governors have been providing increased ability for people to reengage in communities, including larger worship gatherings. We are proud that our congregations are developing plans that are keeping United Methodists and our communities safe. There is wisdom to the saying, go slow to go fast. Thank you for all you are doing each step of the way during COVID-19.
This week, we want to draw your attention to the following essential actions and items:
1. Taking A Stand to End Racism in GNJ
Bishop Schol is working with GNJ leaders on action steps to be a more racially just, equitable and inclusive church. Your input is essential for this work. Three listening sessions across GNJ have been scheduled to hear your hopes for our future. Please share this information with your congregations. The calls are scheduled:
Thursday, June 18, 9:30 a.m.
Dial-in: 1 646 876 9923 / Meeting ID: 946 2425 1860
Friday, June 19, 11:30 a.m.
Dial-in: 1 646 876 9923 / Meeting ID: 970 1267 4283
Monday, June 22, 7:00 p.m.
Dial-in: 1 646 876 9923 / Meeting ID: 917 8620 2983
2. Reopening Guidance – All Clergy, Trustee Chairpersons
GNJ’s goal is to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ during COVID-19 with zero transmission of the virus by United Methodist activities. For guidance about reopening please refer to your state’s specific directives and GNJ’s guidelines.
New Jersey New York Pennsylvania GNJ Guidelines
Our insurance agent Church Mutual has provided guidance about liability issues if worshipers contract COVID-19 during worship or other activities in our churches. You can access their response to questions here. Please note that their guidance covers all activities within the church, both a congregation and renters/lessees.
3. PPP and Miracles Everywhere COVID-19 Fund – Clergy, Church Council and Finance Chairpersons
Overwhelmingly, the GNJ congregations who have received PPP funds from the CARES Act are larger, suburban churches. We are thankful for our congregations who are making donations to the COVID-19 Relief Fund as part of Miracles Everywhere to provide assistance to all congregations including ethnic and low income rural and urban congregations in GNJ. If your congregation is in a position to support our connection, please consider tithing to Miracles Everywhere. Congregations may apply for COVID-19 funding for food ministries, clergy salaries and paying bills using the application here.
Starting next week, we will reinstitute the weekly survey as we assess congregations’ opening, finances, ministry and needs. We recognize most clergy will be on renewal leave and recommend assigning the survey to a lay person during this time. We anticipate that all churches will be completing the survey starting in July.
5. Summer at Home – Youth leaders, parents
Our Next Gen Ministries has created a special opportunity to engage young people this summer with curriculum that will deepen faith and unleash the potential of our youth. From July 6 through July 30, young people can release their creativity with Inspire at Home or explore the intersection of faith and racism with Transform at Home. Please share these opportunities with the young people in your congregation.
6. Clergy Renewal Leave – Pastors and Staff Parish Relations Chairpersons
All clergy are encouraged to take the last two Sundays in June as renewal leave. GNJ is preparing full worship services for use June 21 and June 28. The first week of services will be available for download on Wednesday and will be livestreamed from YouTube and on Facebook on Sunday. More information will be posted in the Digest. For details.
Thank you for your ministry and leadership,
Quick links to items in this email:
GNJ Reopening Guidelines
Church Mutual Questions on Liability
Miracles Everywhere Tithing
COVID-19 Relief Grant Application
Summer at Home for Youth
Clergy Renewal Leave