A message from Bishop Jon V. Anderson
Thanks for your courageous leadership to serve the mission of Jesus in the life of your congregations and community while protecting and keeping people safe.
Collaboration is a value we have been lifting up because congregations that have been finding ways to support one another appear to be doing better with all the extra questions and work that comes with living deeper into the COVID-19 pandemic.
The change of seasons will disrupt our new abnormal. We are at a tipping point now. Our strategies that have worked to gather and worship outside will grow more and more challenging with the weather changing. Congregations that have not had worship inside their space will need to decide if they want to have indoor worship or continue with only online worship experiences. Many are looking at some mix. Questions about faith formation strategies have already moved beyond discernment about options to decisions. Now we have to move forward and see how this works. Testing and treatment of the virus slowly grows more effective. Rumors of vaccines and treatments grow. We are a long way from back to normal. The election process before and after will make all this more complicated.
Prepare. Learn. Act. Practice.
I want to lift up a group of resources below to help you in you and your congregation plan into the future. Discernment and deciding. Two words that have different meanings.
- discernment (to separate apart issues)
- deciding (to cut)
Discerning, deciding, planning into decisions, executing, and evaluating experiments and strategies.
I piled all those words together because that is how life has been and we are all tired. I want to encourage you and express my appreciation in advance for your care and wisdom in these uncharted times.
Keep Learning and Be Ready to Pivot
As schools open, we will be learning from their experiences. Each week as the numbers of infections in our areas move up or down, we will know more. There are resources that go deeper than the short newspaper stories, news stories on television, or social media. One that I appreciate, which you can listen to is a podcast from the U of MN led by Michael Osterholm. You can listen and learn while doing your commute or your daily chores. Another helpful link is the state web site that shows you what percentage of people are sick in your county. Click the links below.
- University of Minnesota, CIDRAP, COVID-19 Podcasts and Webinars.
- Stay Safe MN – 14-day COVID-19 Case Rate by County
Safety Plans – Revisions
Congregations need to have a safety plan according to our state. This is a document that helps us plan forward. If you have one, it needs to be public and signed. We suggest posting it on your web site. The plan will need revising as conditions move. If there is an outbreak in your community, you may need to go back to more restrictions. If you do this, you may want to plan for now, a future where things get worse with infections, and a future where we are freer because infection or treatments change for the better. If you share your safety plan link or document with us, others can learn from you. We will put them into a shared folder for others to learn from and to save them time. Click here is a state template and instructions if you are looking for a basic skeleton for your model.
Minnesota Dept. of Health Resources
I recently received a large group of documents from the State Dept. of Health. Click the links below.
- Faith-based Communities –Staying Safe MN
- Faith-based Organizations & COVD-19 Webinar PowerPoint
- Faith-Based Organizations & COVID-19 Webinar Chat Room questions with responses (8.26.20)
- Music Activities and Performances During COVID-19 (see page 6 for music in faith-based organizations)
- COVID-19 Decision Tree for People in Schools, Youth, and Child Care Programs (image below)
SW MN Synod Resources
Through the summer we have published a variety of articles that might be helpful. Go to the top menu of our website’s homepage – www.swmnelca.org. Look for Blog text, then click to journey back through the articles posted. Click the links below.
- Phone Live Streaming
- Stepping into the Digital World
- Worship Has Moved Online. So What’s Next for Your Digital Ministry?
- Another Curve We Need to Flatten
- What Might the “Next” Normal Look Like for Your Church?
- Now What? Up to 50% Worship Space?
- The Church was Deployed
- The Healthy, Holy Work of Grief
- Things Just Keep Moving: An Update
- Best Practices: Online Meetings for Congregation Councils
- Risks of Signing During a Pandemic
- Financial Giving in Such a Time as This
- That was the Easy Part: Leadership and “Reopening” Congregations
- Denial or Kenosis (Emptying Ourselves) in Love
You can find multiple articles on worship, administration, service, faith formation and more at elca.org/publichealth.
I love this poem when things get difficult in my life.
by Judy Brown
There is a trough in waves,
a low spot
where horizon disappears
and only sky
are our company.
And there we lose our way
we rest, knowing the wave will bring us
to its crest again.
There we may drown
if we let fear
hold us in its grip and shake us
side to side,
and leave us flailing, torn, disoriented.
But if we rest there
in the trough,
being in the low part of the wave,
keeping our energy and
noticing the shape of things,
then time alone
will bring us to another
where we can see
horizon, see land again,
regain our sense
and where we need to swim.
I have normally read the poem to be about me and my challenges. But look at the pronouns. “We” keeps showing up with “us.” We are not alone. God is with us. God has given us to one another to journey through life in the gift of human community and in our communities of faith.
You are doing great work. You are making a great difference in the lives of your community, congregation and world following Jesus. Let’s go.