April 22, 2020
Dear East Ohio clergy,
Grace and peace to you from our Lord Jesus Christ! During this time of sheltering in place, we pray you and yours are also sheltering under the wings of the Almighty. We write with requested updates and clarity during this rapidly changing pandemic.
In-person worship is still suspended pending direction from public health officials. Inviting the church back to the building will be contextual, phased, and very different from what it was before. You can begin thinking about the factors that influence your context: How many of your congregants fall into the high-risk category? How could you designate where people could safely sit, and thus how many can attend at once? What will you need to change about high-touch rituals like the offering, passing of the peace, etc.? We will continue to be guided by the principles of doing the most loving thing and preserving life. Because our church contexts are different both from businesses and from each other, we will have to think carefully, creatively, and ethically rather than taking a one-size-fits-all approach.
Retirements and Appointment Changes
Retirements and appointment changes will still happen as of July 1. We will still be celebrating the good and faithful work of our retiring clergy at the Clergy Session and at Annual Conference. We are working on adapting our transition resources to help our congregations with the crucial farewells and welcomes of their pastors during this complex time. We welcome your creative ideas and invite you to share them with your superintendent. The transition resources and materials will be posted by May 1.
District and Charge Conferences
Before September, we are planning on only very limited in-person meetings—and even that plan is fluid based on public health updates. The Three Rivers District is experimenting with a remote district conference while the others are on hold. Your district superintendent will notify you of your district’s plans, as they normally would. Annual fall charge conferences will not begin before September, and again, your DS will notify you of the plan as they normally do. SPRC consultations may begin earlier by Zoom at the scheduling and discretion of the district superintendents.
Thank you for the tremendous work you are doing for Christ and his church! We applaud your creativity, learning, experimenting, caring, and loving – all while under great social and personal stress! You have led the way in showing that physical separation is not spiritual isolation. Let us know how we can help and support you. Take some time to rest and renew—and feel good about it! While we always strive for excellence, we remember that people have been able to get very polished video worship online for a long time. They care less about the imperfections of your technical glitches and much, much more about connecting with Christ’s love through your particular faith community. Thank you for all you are doing, including and especially that which is seen only by our Lord.
Nothing in all creation separates us from the love of God which is ours in Jesus Christ!
Bishop Tracy S. Malone and the East Ohio Cabinet
Executive Secretary to the Bishop
The East Ohio Conference Office:
located in North Canton, OH,
near Akron-Canton Airport.
8800 Cleveland Ave. NW
North Canton, OH 44720
Local: (330) 499-3972
Toll Free: (800) 831-3972
Monday through Friday
8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
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