Essential Actions and Updates | Week of April 8

April 8, 2020 | COVID-19, GNJ News

Dear GNJ Lay and Clergy Leaders,

In this time of uncertainty amidst a global health crisis, our goal is to provide the most up-to-date and relevant information without burdening you with numerous or duplicate emails. To serve you and your congregation with clear and critical information, we are structuring our communication to focus on three primary email messages each week:

  1. Mondays: An email from GNJ Leadership that has essential actions and updates for the week (the subject line will read Essential Actions and Updates). All clergy and congregational leaders are to follow through as appropriate.
  2. Wednesdays: The GNJ Digest on Wednesdays that includes announcements, resources and information about conference-wide activities and opportunities.
  3. Fridays: A message from your district superintendent that includes specific district information and initiatives.

Each of these emails will have specific, relevant and urgent information that will relate to your congregation and community as we carry out our mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ and grow vital congregations for the transformation of the world.

We expect you will review these communications and follow up with the items that relate to you or your congregation. All resources, actions and updates will also be found on our website and at this time particularly on our dedicated COVID-19 pages.

Essential Actions and Updates for the Week of April 6

1.  Finances and Giving Information for Pastors, Treasurers and Finance Chairs: 
CARES Act – Funding is available for congregations as a part of the emergency relief package passed by Congress. Information about the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) was shared last week on conference calls and can be found here. All congregations should apply for this funding, and future decisions about GNJ grants including GNJ congregational and clergy grants and shared ministry grace will be dependent on your applying for this relief funding. A secondary loan program, the Emergency Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), was announced Friday and information on this program can be found here under CARES Act resources. Urgent action is required as these funds will be quickly exhausted with thousands of businesses, nonprofits and churches applying already. If you need assistance with these applications, email caresact@gnjumc.org and your email will be answered promptly.

Online giving – Creating avenues for online giving is critical for receiving tithes and offerings during Covid-19. If your church does not have online giving, GNJ has established an online giving site for your congregation here. Copy and paste this link into your email communications to your congregations and a check will be cut each week for gifts received for your church. Already GNJ churches have raised $47,652 for its congregations through the GNJ online giving site. For more information about setting up online giving, contact Rev. Jana Purkis-Brash.

Miracles Everywhere – GNJ has established a Covid-19 Relief Fund through our Miracles Everywhere Campaign to assist congregations with ministries and help individuals with financial needs during this time. You and your congregation may contribute here.

2.  Charge Conferences – Lead Pastors
After applying for CARES Act Funding, all congregations must hold a Special Charge Conference. Pre-drafted legislation and how to call a special charge conference can be found here.

3.  Weekly Survey – Lead Pastors
All lead pastors are to complete a weekly survey (takes 5 minutes or less) by Wednesday noon that GNJ leadership uses to assess how congregations are doing during Covid-19 and to allocate resources and support for congregations. Complete the survey here. Results of the survey will be posted here.

4.  Online Worship – Pastors and Worship Leaders
GNJ has done an outstanding job in organizing and moving congregations to online worship during Covid-19. Many congregations have even seen an increase in worship attendance. Our goal is to provide outstanding Easter worship and to continue to improve online worship. Access resources to strengthen online worship here. You can find technology resources here.

5.  Annual Conference Postponement – Pastors and Lay Delegates
GNJ is postponing the Annual Conference (originally scheduled for May 31 – June 2). We have tentatively rescheduled the conference for October 4, 5 and 6. More information is forthcoming as plans are finalized.

Superintendent Manolo Sardiñas continues to make good progress and is coming home from the hospital. His wife Lissie is also progressing well at home. Your prayers are deeply appreciated by the family. Thank you.

By all reports, the next two weeks will be very difficult for the people of Greater New Jersey as our area reaches a peak for infections and our medical resources and personnel reach exhaustion. We will see physical, emotional and spiritual suffering. We are called to be the church during this time – to minister to those who are hurting, to feed the hungry, to serve those who need care, to provide centering for those who are anxious and hurting and to show the world the transformative power of Jesus Christ. It will be difficult.

Thank you for all you are doing and for working with us to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ as together we stamp out Covid-19 and have zero infection through United Methodist activities.

In Christ,

GNJ Leadership

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