Helpful Guidance to Pastors and Churches
We celebrate the power of the creative God, the redeeming Christ and the animating Spirit evidenced through the creativity, adaptation and energy of the clergy and laity of the East Ohio Conference. Throughout this global crisis of the COVID-19 virus, you have lived by the Word of God, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew 22:37-39) You have embodied the love of Christ as you have: cared for neighbors and strangers alike in contributing to the healing of body and soul; increased your technological knowledge and capacity for the proclamation of the Gospel; and been the church without walls. We can hear God’s voice and echo it, “Well done, good and faithful servants.” (Matthew 25:23)
The following guidelines are based upon the most current best practices as communicated by the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control, and the Ohio Department of Health. Please employ them in conversation with your local church “pandemic protocol” team so that they are most applicable to your context and are communicated to your congregations and communities completely, clearly, and consistently. We are each invited to take personal responsibility for the wellbeing of us all. These guidelines are provided so that the covenant community of United Methodists in East Ohio may continue to minimize risk, stamp out disease, and step into God’s new thing – a truly post-COVID-19 pandemic world – with confidence and hope.
As we step into this new territory, we invite you to do so as those who have been shepherded by God through a wilderness. In the desert land we have received the gifts of sustenance, presence, and hope at the hand of our guiding God. Let us now, in grateful response, allow God’s gifts to flow through us. Let us engage our own weary spirits and one another – clergy, church members, and community partners – with patience, kindness, and understanding. Let us continue to pray for the complete eradication of this deadly virus and for those who have suffered the loss of loved ones. Let us give thanks for the ways in which the healing of the nations is at hand and for the privilege to partner with Jesus the Christ in that transforming work.
In the great name of Jesus,
Bishop Tracy S. Malone and the EOC Cabinet
Executive Secretary to the Bishop
Board of Ministry
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
Fax: (330) 499-3279
Monday through Friday
8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
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