Wednesday May 27, 2020

Dear Members and Friends of the Desert Southwest Conference,

Much happens quickly in this time of responding and adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic. I write in response to an announcement that the state of Nevada is allowing worship for groups of 50 or less. This announcement does not signal our readiness to open our United Methodist Churches.

I want to affirm that we will continue the suspension of in-person worship and group gatherings of any size, including gatherings for the purpose of worship planning, streaming, or videotaping in the Desert Southwest Conference. If any of our United Methodist Churches/Fellowships share facilities with another congregation or group, that group cannot use the facility until such time our United Methodist congregation has approval to occupy the space.

The relaxation of restrictions in the community at large has created a very real concern that we may see a spike in infections and deaths. Much of this is because of the lack of the procedures that have proven to be effective in slowing the spread of the coronavirus.

I pray for the time when these restrictions will be lifted. I yearn for that day when we will be safe to return to be together physically in the familiar worship space we love. But even as we yearn for that day, we also need to be doing some important preparation. There are many things we need to consider about our church buildings as we get ready for ultimately opening our church buildings. Consult our DSC website and read through the document, “Ministry in the Season of COVID-19 and Beyond.” It contains essential information with a helpful checklist to guide you as you lead your congregation in considering the many things we need to think about and plan for. Following these guidelines, please be sure to:

  • Form a Team of leaders for your church. Meet with your Team to discuss the guidelines and checklist.
  • Develop a plan for Re-Opening that is unique to your campus and your ministry.
  • Create a Covenant to be used to prayerfully guide your congregation in the Re-Opening.
  • Share the Plan and the Covenant with your District Superintendent for her/his affirmation and the perfecting of the Plan and Covenant.
  • Be prepared so that when I signal the time when we can begin to move into the re-opening of our church buildings, we will be ready to do so.
  • Pray without ceasing for an end to the pandemic, and safety for your congregation and your community.

Please remember that in these times, we hold as a high ideal the caution and the care for our loved ones and the community. An update will be given on Wednesday, June 3rd. Until then, remember with thanksgiving that we are called by God to care lovingly for all, and to avoid causing harm to others. I am holding you in prayer as you lead your congregation and your communities.

In Christ,
Bishop Bob

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