Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Dear Members and Friends of the Desert Southwest Conference,

As we watch how the world is affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, there are some encouraging signs for us in the Desert Southwest Conference. Some indicators suggest that the “curve” of the spread of the virus may be flattening. Many who have been negatively impacted by the economic distress may see some relief as governments relax restrictions. News is emerging that the research into a vaccine is progressing. These signs hint at hope on the horizon.

At the same time, one of the key indicators cited by the CDC for a reopening has not yet been met. We have not seen a “downward trajectory of documented cases within a 14-day period.” In fact, the numbers in both Nevada and Arizona demonstrate daily increases in the numbers of confirmed cases. As one would expect, the numbers of persons who are dying also continues to rise. There is concern that reopening too quickly may result in new outbreaks of infections.

This tells us that although we see hope on the horizon, we must continue to practice safe distancing, and we must continue the precautionary measures to protect ourselves, our families, our loved ones. These measures are making a positive difference in our effort to slow the devastation of COVID-19. We will continue the suspension of in-person worship gatherings of any size, including small groups to produce worship.

This suspension creates challenge for us, as we are by nature persons who practice our faith in community. We love to greet, hug, gather. So, it is difficult for us. But we are also persons of deep love for one another, and by continuing to observe the suspension, we are helping to get us to the moment when we can resume some gatherings. That day will come, but it is not yet here. Please continue to observe safe practices: stay at home, work from home, care for yourself if you do not feel well, practice physical distancing when you must be out of your homes, wear a mask, wash your hands frequently.

I celebrate that during this time of suspension a wide range of creative efforts has emerged. I ask you to keep finding ways to connect with each other to be the church in action. Some of these learnings will be critically important to us for the future. Keep checking for resources for help and support. Please continue to be patient and care for each other. Reach out into the community as you are able, especially to those in need. Participate in worship, invite others to share the joy of being the body of Christ, even at a distance.

Pray for safety for your families and loved ones, for those on the front lines who serve us in many ways, for the vulnerable at risk, for our children and families, for researchers and scientists rushing for a cure and a vaccine. Pray for those who are economically devastated.

And after prayer, let’s do whatever we can to bring hope, healing, and help in these most challenging times. We are called to be the church in these days. We are called to be a courageous church, loving like Jesus. May it be so!

In Christ’s love,
Bishop Bob

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