Dear Clergy and Congregational Leaders,
This week I invite you to pray for Superintendent Myrna Bethke who had a stroke last week. She is in intensive care and is making progress. Myrna is a woman of deep faith with a spirit of adventure. She gives everything she can to serve God and others. Superintendents Glenn Conaway and Brian Roberts are covering the Gateway South District, and clergy and congregational leaders may contact Southern Regional Administrator Le’Ora Stokes for assistance.
The following are actions important to our ministry together.
1. Survey – Lead Pastors
We have reinstituted the weekly survey as we assess congregations’ opening, finances, ministry and needs. We recognize most clergy are on renewal leave and recommend assigning the survey to a lay person during this time. Click here to complete the short survey. The survey will be closed on Thursday at 10:00 a.m. to process the results and consider them at our cabinet meeting on Monday.
2. Reopening Guidance – All Clergy, Trustee Chairpersons
In an abundance of safety, the MRC will most likely not open before Labor Day. Staff will continue to work from home. The State of New Jersey has increased the limit for indoor gatherings to 25% of capacity with a maximum of 100 people. 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. For guidance about reopening, please refer to your state’s specific directives and GNJ’s guidelines.
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.
3. FAQs for Liability, Rental Agreements and Waivers – All Clergy, Trustee Chairpersons
Our insurance agent Church Mutual has provided guidance about liability issues if worshipers contract COVID-19 during worship, agreements for rentals and other activities in our churches and information on waivers. You can access their response to questions here. Please note that their guidance covers all activities within the church for congregations and renters/lessees.
4. Clergy Renewal Leave – Pastors and Staff Parish Relations Chairpersons
GNJ is preparing new worship services for congregations to use on June 28 so that clergy can take renewal leave. The June 28 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.
5. Staff Furloughs – All GNJ staff will be furloughed one day a week this summer. The first furlough day will be observed on Thursday, July 2 and then the MRC offices are closed on Friday, July 3 for Independence Day. The remaining weeks of summer, GNJ staff will be furloughed every Friday. Furloughing staff means that some work will be shifted or delayed, and we thank you in advance for your grace in understanding the schedule change for our employees.
Thank you for your ministry and leadership.