Essential Actions and Updates for June 2

June 2, 2020 | COVID-19, GNJ News
Dear Congregational and Clergy Leadership,

Below are this week’s essential actions and updates. Thank you for following through with each of these. We are also grateful for how each of you are leading. We are hearing encouraging stories of faith, resiliency, ministry and mission. Below you will find three important matters

  1. Church and other program openings.
  2. PPP program follow-up.
  3. Clergy vacations.
Church and Other Program Openings – Pastor and Trustee and Church Council Chairpersons
Several congregations have opened for worship of 10 people or less and others are planning worship of 25 or less outside. We anticipate the governors will increase these numbers in the coming weeks and that churches should begin to test their procedures for opening through small activities. For church events and activities, the following guidelines published by GNJ are to be followed and may be found here. The State of New Jersey is also permitting child/day care programs to open and churches with such programs are to follow the state guidelines and as applicable. Guidelines for Pennsylvania and New York are different. State guidelines for day cares may be found at the following links and should use these guidelines for state programs which may supersede GNJ guidelines.
New Jersey
New York
Pennsylvania

As you have questions about opening, you may email us at opening@gnjumc.org.

Some are asking how to handle disagreement about opening within the congregation. If it is a question about a specific aspect of opening, the first places to turn are the state guidelines and the GNJ reopening guidelines. We have facilitators to help guide conversations that involve if it is the right or appropriate time to open a congregation safely. Email us at opening@gnjumc.org and we will assist you.

PPP Program Follow-Up – Pastor, Treasurer and Finance Chairperson
Reporting is due for the Payroll Protection Program (CARES Act) for churches that received funding in early April. GNJ is here to help ensure that PPP funding becomes a grant and not a loan. We are also willing to pay interest accrued as long as the following conditions are met:

  • The church files its report four days following the 56 days allotted to spend the funds.
  • You consult with us or ask us to review reports by June 28.
  • You send any questions or needs to us at CARESact@gnjumc.org.
Clergy Two Week Renewal and Vacations – Pastor and Staff Parish Relations Chairperson
Everyone has made significant sacrifices during COVID-19, both laity and clergy. We cannot assist everyone with renewal time, but we would like to make a recommendation to our congregations and pastors.
  • 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.
Thank you for giving thoughtful and prayerful attention to each of these matters. Together we are making a difference.

In Christ,

GNJ Leadership