Regional Response to COVID-19

June 25, 2020

JOAN’S ARC

This Is God’s Year to Act! … Tomorrow Is Now!

“God’s Spirit is on me; he’s chosen me to preach the Message of good news to the poor,
Sent me to announce pardon to prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind,
To set the burdened and battered free,  to announce, “This is God’s year to act!”

He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the assistant, and sat down. Every eye in the place was on him, intent. Then he started in, “You’ve just heard Scripture make history. It came true just now in this place.”  Luke 4:18-21 The Message

Dear God’s Beloved CRMR:

Jesus began his ministry in Nazareth by proclaiming God’s call on his life: God’s Spirit is leading me to preach the Message of good news to the poor, pardon to prisoners, recovery of sight to the blind, freedom to the burden and battered and call out to all that this is God’s year to act!” I imagine Jesus was feeling an urgency. This is why I like Eugene Peterson’s Message translation. He is excited about the power of these words. Can’t you feel it in verse 19 when you read it aloud: This is God’s year to act!”

On August 28, 1963 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. unequivocally called God’s people to act with urgency with and for blacks and the poor when he delivered his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech at the March on Washington, DC.

He prophetically called out our country: “We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there “is” such a thing as being too late. This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action.”  

In his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, King stated:

“… Our very survival, depends on our ability to stay awake, to adjust to new ideas, to remain vigilant and to face the challenge of change,…” 

We truly are being confronted with ‘the  fierce urgency of now’ if we are paying attention. God’s beloved, paying attention and embracing God’s call for us to change the way we act. Just like Jesus we must be good news to the poor who are being robbed of life, liberty and the right to pursue happiness. Just like Jesus we must choose to name everyone and thing of God’s creation ‘beloved’. Just like Jesus we must have the moral certitude  to name sin and evil. Just like Jesus we must have the spiritual urgency  to bend the moral arc of the universe toward  justice.  Just like Jesus we must choose to be obedient to God for this is our calling. God is calling us to act with love for everyone, especially for the ignored, the disinherited, the oppressed! This is our calling. “This is God’s year to act!”  It is God’s year to act in and through us!

Out of this sense of fierce urgency some have been asking what the Region’s Reconciliation Ministry (ReconcilMin) is doing in response to the Black Lives Matter movement and the escalating racial tensions in our country. ReconcilMin is focused on educating, equipping and inspiring our congregations and ministries to join us in uprooting racism.

The ReconcilMin invites you to join us on Facebook in a digital book group where we can educate ourselves to “where it hurts” for sisters and brothers of color. This is an opportunity to grow together into actors and agents of God’s healing and hope.

Click on the link below for more information and to register as a member of the book group. The first book on the list is White Fragility, Robin DiAngelo

Reconciliation Ministry Facebook-Book Group

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1367168003479865/?source_id=1403025349989371

What Your Region Is Doing

  • The Regional Staff returned to the office yesterday, June 2nd. This could change as Covid-19 data and information continue to emerge.

Office Hours: M-F/9:30AM-5:30PM We are not accepting in person office visits until further notice. We are easily accessible via email, phone, text. I am available via Zoom with an appointment.

  • 2020 Regional Assembly/Fall Feast has been postponed to September 2021. 
  • The Camp Ministry has discerned to cancel 2020 Summer Camp and related Events.
  • VIRTUAL CAMPFIRE Gatherings for CRMR Youth for 6 weeks:

All Jr (3rd-5th), Chi Rho (6th-8th) and CYF (9th-12th) age youth are invited to participate.

Cost: Free

When: Tuesdays, 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm June 2 – July 7, 2020

A link to the meetings will be sent only to those who sign up in order to keep them secure (so please do not share or publicize the link, we don’t want zoom-crashers).

Sign up: by email: skgarrison50@gmail.com you will be sent a reply with a link

Please let your Region Church know when you plan to return to your buildings and how we can best support you as you transition.

Helpful Resources:

General Minister and President, Rev. Terri Hord Owens’ Pastoral Call:

https://www.facebook.com/terrihordowens

Family and Children Ministry Resources & Celebrating Your Graduates:

https://www.docfamiliesandchildren.org
https://www.docfamiliesandchildren.org/graduates

Chuck Blaisdell/FCC, Takoma, Washington Covid-19 Offerings:

https://www.fcctacoma.org/covid-19-resources

The UCC/PCUSA Insurance Board: Understanding Your Insurance Board Coverage

Reopening Your Church Office

Center For Disease Control: Reopening

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/reopen-guidance.html

For Small Congregations:

Sanitizing Your Congregation

https://static1.squarespace.com/static/508590e6e4b02e0cbd20fcfc/t/5e78e76bc293951a83a2e8ed/1584981869137/Covid-19+Sanitizing+Congregational+Spaces.pdf

How To Return to Your Building/ In Person Worship

NEW: Insurance Board- Serving UCC, DOC, ELCA and Presbyterian Church

You can continue to find Covid-19 resources at our Regional and Denominational websites:

Clergy Opportunities To Stay Connected:

  • Weekly Zoom Clergy Gathering: The Meditation Room, Tuesdays, 8:00AM-9:00AM                        A time of support, inspiration, encouragement and ministry of presence with a brief meditation by one of your colleagues/friends
  • Monthly Clergy Luncheon: Taking Sabbath. Resumes in September

COVID-19 IS STILL AMONG US! WEAR MASK. SOCIAL DISTANCE. WASH YOUR HANDS. PRAY.

Always Remember: God loves you and so do I, and there is nothing you can do about it!

Joan

Joan Bell-Haynes, Executive Regional Minister

June 18, 2020

FROM JOAN’S ARK

[This came as a recommendation from one of my pastor friends:

 Joan: With my tongue firmly in my cheek, I suggest you change the name of your missive from “From Joan’s Desk”  to “From Joan’s Ark” … Not to mention the most obvious pun (even if your name isn’t pronounced the same way): Joan of Arc.

Me: Love it! But wait! Joan of Arc was named a witch and burned at the stake wasn’t she? Nope.😂

Well, she was burned at the stake (or was it with a steak), but not for being a witch — it was a trumped up heresy charge for which she was cleared 25 years after her death. And she was declared a saint, so you should be good with that, right?? I think this could work.

A picture containing drawing

Description automatically generated

 So here you have it from Joan’s Ark. LOL]

So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith.”

Galatians 6:9-10 The Message

Dear God’s Beloved CRMR:

These are tumultuous times we are in. You have probably heard it said recently that we are in the midst of two viruses: Coronavirus/COVID-19 and Racism. No news flash here. We are seeing the best and worst of humanity.  But wait! What if God is trying to tell us something in the midst of this? Rev. Reginald Chapman, pastor Lakewood Christian Church, Lakewood, CO spoke this probing statement into the room this week during the clergy meditation. Tata Vega, playing the character “Shug Avery” in The Color Purple movie sung God Is Trying To Tell You Something (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Z8WRdGIZoU). She powerfully sings the refrain in the beginning: speak Lord, speak to me…maybe God is trying to tell you something, right now.

The question begs us to seek what God might be up to in this dangerous and chaotic time when the whole world is affected by COVID-19 and when the whole world is protesting racism in the US. Certainly, there are those in the streets whose intent is not to do good. We saw them committing acts of violence, looting and destroying property. But the overwhelming numbers of people are standing up and speaking for justice for “the benefit of all…”. Diverse people in the streets for 21 consecutive days across this country protesting systemic racism. Maybe God trying to tell us something?

My question of you/us is this: Given all that you/we see, hear, feel and understand: what do you think God is trying to tell us? What do you think God is trying to tell the church? Let’s talk about it! Let’s talk about how we can inspire each other to live into the Apostle Paul’s call to “do the good God is expecting of us, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith.”

I encourage you to have conversations at your family table, with your pastor(s), colleagues, spiritual elders, members of your congregation and with friends. In the coming weeks I will give provide opportunities for us to listen/pray, learn, speak and act. Watch this space!

In the meantime here is an immediate opportunity: I invite you to join me in attending the digital Poor Peoples Assembly led by DOC pastor the Rev. Dr. William Barber. For more information see the link below:

A NATIONAL CALL FOR MORAL REVIVAL: DIGITAL MASS POOR PEOPLE’S ASSEMBLY & MORAL MARCH ON WASHINGTON, Saturday, June 20, 2020

What Your Region Is Doing

  • The Regional Staff returned to the office yesterday, June 2nd. This could change as Covid-19 data and information continue to emerge.

Office Hours: M-F/9:30AM-5:30PM We are not accepting in person office visits until further notice. We are easily accessible via email, phone, text. I am available via Zoom with an appointment.

  • 2020 Regional Assembly/Fall Feast has been postponed to September 2021. 
  • The Camp Ministry has discerned to cancel 2020 Summer Camp and related Events.
  • VIRTUAL CAMPFIRE Gatherings for CRMR Youth for 6 weeks:

All Jr (3rd-5th), Chi Rho (6th-8th) and CYF (9th-12th) age youth are invited to participate.

Cost: Free

When: Tuesdays, 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm June 2 – July 7, 2020

A link to the meetings will be sent only to those who sign up in order to keep them secure (so please do not share or publicize the link, we don’t want zoom-crashers).

Sign up: by email: skgarrison50@gmail.com you will be sent a reply with a link

Please let your Region Church know when you plan to return to your buildings and how we can best support you as you transition.

Helpful Resources:

General Minister and President, Rev. Terri Hord Owens’ Pastoral Call:

https://www.facebook.com/terrihordowens

Family and Children Ministry Resources & Celebrating Your Graduates:

https://www.docfamiliesandchildren.org
https://www.docfamiliesandchildren.org/graduates

Chuck Blaisdell/FCC, Takoma, Washington Covid-19 Offerings:

https://www.fcctacoma.org/covid-19-resources

The UCC/PCUSA Insurance Board: Understanding Your Insurance Board Coverage

Reopening Your Church Office

Center For Disease Control: Reopening

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/reopen-guidance.html

For Small Congregations:

Sanitizing Your Congregation

https://static1.squarespace.com/static/508590e6e4b02e0cbd20fcfc/t/5e78e76bc293951a83a2e8ed/1584981869137/Covid-19+Sanitizing+Congregational+Spaces.pdf

How To Return to Your Building/ In Person Worship

NEW: Insurance Board- Serving UCC, DOC, ELCA and Presbyterian Church

You can continue to find Covid-19 resources at our Regional and Denominational websites:

Clergy Opportunities To Stay Connected:

  • Weekly Zoom Clergy Gathering: The Meditation Room, Tuesdays, 8:00AM-9:00AM                        A time of support, inspiration, encouragement and ministry of presence with a brief meditation by one of your colleagues/friends
  • Monthly Clergy Luncheon: Taking Sabbath. Resumes in September

Always Remember: God loves you and so do I, and there is nothing you can do about it!

Joan

Joan Bell-Haynes, Executive Regional Minister

June 3, 2020

FROM JOAN’S DESK

“Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sisterwhom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen.”   1 John 4:20 NRSV

Dear God’s Beloved CRMR:

I find it difficult to write this pastoral letter today for the pain I carry in my body that literally makes me sick to my stomach. The pain of watching the life of Mr. George Floyd being taken from him by the knee on his neck by a Minnesota policeman. This on top of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor broke something in me. To hear Mr. Floyd repeatedly saying: “Please, I can’t breathe. At one point on the video I hear him say, “Mama”. Something broke in me that day. I am broken. Broken. Tired. Angry. Hopeful. Hurt. Prayerful.

How can we say we love God who we have not seen and not love a brother…George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery; or sister…Breonna Taylor … Jews… Muslims…Immigrants, LBGTQ+ … whom you have seen? How can we? My heart hurts for us. For our nation. For our world. I hope.

Because of the loving devotion of the LORD we are not consumed,

for His mercies never fail. They are new every morning;

great is Your faithfulness! The LORD is my portion,” says my soul,

“therefore I will hope in Him.” Lamentations 3:22-24 Berean Study Bible

My offering to you this week is one of hope from my Monday, June 1, 2020 Facebook post:

“One of my young people, a member of a congregation in our region, called me to ask what should they be thinking about as they consider whether to protest here in Denver this evening. I asked, why do you want to go? They said, I want to show my solidarity and express resistance to what happened to Mr. Floyd. I asked who are you protesting with? Ask the leader you are with, how you can best be of help. Pay attention to everything and one around you. Watch what is happening. Trust God’s spirit in you. If something is not right, get out.

I pray safety for them and all the protesters across the country (There are protesters in Iran. New Zealand, Australia, Great Britain, Germany and other countries). I pray for my family and all Black, Brown siblings whose pain is too deep to speak, trusting God, who is able touch and heal even the most ancient of our pains and give us new life. Thanks be to God you who are coming alongside of us, joining us in our struggle. For our struggle is the struggle of this country. The creation of the construct of Race is the original sin. “It is the problem and it’s fruit is racism” to quote Dr. David Anderson Hooker, Transforming Communities Conferences.

But please hear this! We don’t need you to save us. We did not create this problem! Yet we are made to feel as if we did. We need you to acknowledge this truth. See us, hear us and commit to ending Race/Racism. Begin by asking us how you can best join us on this journey. Love and deep gratitude.” Joan

A word from the CRMR Reconciliation Ministry Chair, Rev. Darryl Searuggs:

“The Central Rocky Mountain Region’s Reconciliation Ministry stands in complete solidarity with those committed to rooting out the sin of racism.  Our call to action is to express the God ordained truth that everyone’s humanity must be equally valued, honored and celebrated.  We grieve the recent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmad Aubrey and so many others.”

Learn, Understand or take action?

“May we be the church we say we are.” Rev. Teresa Hord Owens, General Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples Of Christ), June 3, 2020. Let the church say, Amen.

What Your Region Is Doing

  • The Regional Staff returned to the office yesterday, June 2nd. This could change as Covid-19 data and information continue to emerge.

Office Hours: M-F/9:30AM-5:30PM We are not accepting in person office visits until further notice. We are easily accessible via email, phone, text. I am available via Zoom with an appointment.

  • The Camp Ministry has discerned to cancel 2020 Summer Camp and related Events.
  • 2020 Regional Assembly/Fall Feast has been postponed to September 2021. 

Also, I share with you the link to a Message from Rev. Terri Hord Owen, our General Minster and President, and Rev.  April Johnson, Minister of Reconciliation:

https://disciples.org/congregations/we-need-to-be-the-church-we-say-we-are/

Helpful Resources:

General Minister and President, Rev. Terri Hord Owens’ Pastoral Call:

https://www.facebook.com/terrihordowens

A NATIONAL CALL FOR MORAL REVIVAL: MASS POOR PEOPLE’S ASSEMBLY & MORAL MARCH ON WASHINGTON, Led by Rev. Dr. William Barber, Saturday, June 20, 2020

VIRTUAL CAMPFIRE Gatherings for CRMR Youth for 6 weeks:

All Jr (3rd-5th), Chi Rho (6th-8th) and CYF (9th-12th) age youth are invited to participate.

Cost: Free

When: Tuesdays, 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm June 2 – July 7, 2020

A link to the meetings will be sent only to those who sign up in order to keep them secure (so please do not share or publicize the link, we don’t want zoom-crashers).

Sign up: by email: skgarrison50@gmail.com you will be sent a reply with a link

Family and Children Ministry Resources & Celebrating Your Graduates:

https://www.docfamiliesandchildren.org

https://www.docfamiliesandchildren.org/graduates

Chuck Blaisdell/FCC, Takoma, Washington Covid-19 Offerings:

https://www.fcctacoma.org/covid-19-resources

The UCC/PCUSA Insurance Board: Understanding Your Insurance Board Coverage

Reopening Your Church Office

Center For Disease Control: Reopening

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/reopen-guidance.html

For Small Congregations:

Sanitizing Your Congregation

https://static1.squarespace.com/static/508590e6e4b02e0cbd20fcfc/t/5e78e76bc293951a83a2e8ed/1584981869137/Covid-19+Sanitizing+Congregational+Spaces.pdf

How To Return to Your Building/ In Person Worship

You can continue to find Covid-19 resources at our Regional and Denominational websites:

What Your Region Is Doing

  • The Regional Staff will continue to work from home through the month of May. This could change as data and information continue to emerge. We are easily accessible Monday – Friday, via email, phone, text. I am available via Zoom with an appointment.
  • The Camp Ministry has discerned to cancel 2020 Summer Camp and related Events.
  • 2020 Regional Assembly/Fall Feast has been postponed to September 2021.  

Please let your Region Church know when you plan to return to your buildings and how we can best support you as you transition.

Clergy Opportunities To Stay Connected:

  • Weekly Zoom Clergy Gathering: The Meditation Room, Tuesdays, 8:00AM-9:00AM                        A time of support, inspiration, encouragement and ministry of presence with a brief meditation by one of your colleagues/friends
  • Monthly Clergy Luncheon: 2nd Tuesday Monthly, 11:30AM -1:00PM                                                  This luncheon was a metro Denver in-person gathering. Due to the crisis, it is now on Zoom for all clergy in the region

Always Remember: God loves you and so do I, and there is nothing you can do about it!

Joan

Joan Bell-Haynes, Executive Regional Minister

May 28, 2020

FROM JOAN’S DESK

Acts 2:1-24; 37-47                   The Message (MSG)

“When the Feast of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Without warning there was a sound like a strong wind, gale force—no one could tell where it came from. It filled the whole building. Then, like a wildfire, the Holy Spirit spread through their ranks, and they started speaking in a number of different languages as the Spirit prompted them.

5-11There were many Jews staying in Jerusalem just then, devout pilgrims from all over the world. When they heard the sound, they came on the run. Then when they heard, one after another, their own mother tongues being spoken, they were thunderstruck. They couldn’t for the life of them figure out what was going on, and kept saying, “Aren’t these all Galileans? How come we’re hearing them talk in our various mother tongues? Parthians, Medes, and Elamites; Visitors from Mesopotamia, Judea, and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene; Immigrants from Rome, both Jews and proselytes; Even Cretans and Arabs! “They’re speaking our languages, describing God’s mighty works!” Their heads were spinning; they couldn’t make head or tail of any of it. They talked back and forth, confused: “What’s going on here?” Others joked, “They’re drunk on cheap wine.”

That’s when Peter stood up and, backed by the other eleven, spoke out with bold urgency: “Fellow Jews, all of you who are visiting Jerusalem, listen carefully and get this story straight. These people aren’t drunk as some of you suspect. They haven’t had time to get drunk—it’s only nine o’clock in the morning. This is what the prophet Joel announced would happen:

“In the Last Days,” God says,
“I will pour out my Spirit
    on every kind of people:
Your sons will prophesy,
    also your daughters;
Your young men will see visions,
    your old men dream dreams.
When the time comes,
    I’ll pour out my Spirit
On those who serve me, men and women both,
    and they’ll prophesy.
I’ll set wonders in the sky above
    and signs on the earth below,
Blood and fire and billowing smoke,
    the sun turning black and the moon blood-red,
Before the Day of the Lord arrives,
    the Day tremendous and marvelous;
And whoever calls out for help
    to me, God, will be saved.”

“Fellow Israelites, listen carefully to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man thoroughly accredited by God to you—the miracles and wonders and signs that God did through him are common knowledge—this Jesus, following the deliberate and well-thought-out plan of God, was betrayed by men who took the law into their own hands, and was handed over to you. And you pinned him to a cross and killed him. But God untied the death ropes and raised him up. Death was no match for him. . . .

That day about three thousand took him at his word, were baptized and were signed up. They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, the common meal, and the prayers. Everyone around was in awe—all those wonders and signs done through the apostles! And all the believers lived in a wonderful harmony, holding everything in common. They sold whatever they owned and pooled their resources so that each person’s need was met. They followed a daily discipline of worship in the Temple followed by meals at home, every meal a celebration, exuberant and joyful, as they praised God. People in general liked what they saw. Every day their number grew as God added those who were saved.”

Dear God’s Beloved CRMR Family!

Happy Pentecost! More of you will be returning to your church buildings this Sunday as we celebrate the Church’s Birthday! I pray the promised gift of Jesus will burn in our hearts once again. Burning a path forward for us to live faithfully with an even greater sense of care for the  vulnerable in our congregations, communities, country and world. For Covid-19 is still moving among us and claiming lives even though we are desperately trying to return to these “not normal times”. Let us continue to social distance, wear mask, and care for each other and the other.  I pray we will not grow weary in doing what is good and right. May it burn a path forward for us to find a will and a way to end the most hideous sin of Race/Racism. My soul is overcome with righteous anger, grief and sickness. For yet again another black man killed in the streets. We are the imago dei, all of us were created in the image of the Living God! There is something terribly broken in us as humans created in God’s image when we can commit such murderous acts upon anyone. The inhumanity is painful and traumatizing to me and communities of color. My faith will not allow us to be silent. I will not! I pray we will not be silent. Come Holy Spirit, burn a path forward for us to end poverty. If quarterly unemployment hits 30 percent — as the president of one Federal Reserve Bank predicts — 15.4 percent of Americans will fall into poverty for the year, the Columbia researchers found, even in the unlikely event the economy instantly recovers. That level of poverty would exceed the peak of the Great Recession and add nearly 10 million people to the ranks of the poor. We can end poverty in this land of God’s abundance. I pray we will.

This favorite hymn of the CC (DOC) rose up in my spirit today. It is my prayer for us:

We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord;
We are one int he Spirit, we are one in the Lord;
And we pray that all unity will one day be restored.

Chorus: And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love,
yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.

We will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand;
We will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand;
And together we’ll spread the news that God is in our land.

We Will work with each other, we will work side by side;
We will work with each other, we will work side by side;
And we’ll guard each man’s dignity and save each man’s pride.

All praise to the Father, from whom all things come;
And all praise to Christ Jesus, His only Son.
And all praise to the Spirit who makes us one.

Copyright:

Words: 1966 F.E.L. Publications. Assigned 1991 Lorenz Publishing Company (Admin. by Lorenz Corporation), Music: 1966 F.E.L. Publications. Assigned 1991 Lorenz Publishing Company (Admin. by Lorenz Corporation)

Helpful Resources:

General Minister and President, Rev. Terri Hord Owens’ Pastoral Call:

https://www.facebook.com/terrihordowens

A NATIONAL CALL FOR MORAL REVIVAL: MASS POOR PEOPLE’S ASSEMBLY & MORAL MARCH ON WASHINGTON, Led by Rev. Dr. William Barber, Saturday, June 20, 2020

VIRTUAL CAMPFIRE Gatherings for CRMR Youth for 6 weeks:

All Jr (3rd-5th), Chi Rho (6th-8th) and CYF (9th-12th) age youth are invited to participate.

Cost: Free

When: Tuesdays, 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm June 2 – July 7, 2020

A link to the meetings will be sent only to those who sign up in order to keep them secure (so please do not share or publicize the link, we don’t want zoom-crashers).

Sign up: by email: skgarrison50@gmail.com you will be sent a reply with a link

Family and Children Ministry Resources & Celebrating Your Graduates:

https://www.docfamiliesandchildren.org
https://www.docfamiliesandchildren.org/graduates

Chuck Blaisdell/FCC, Takoma, Washington Covid-19 Offerings:

https://www.fcctacoma.org/covid-19-resources

The UCC/PCUSA Insurance Board: Understanding Your Insurance Board Coverage

Reopening Your Church Office

Center For Disease Control: Reopening

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/reopen-guidance.html

For Small Congregations:

Sanitizing Your Congregation

https://static1.squarespace.com/static/508590e6e4b02e0cbd20fcfc/t/5e78e76bc293951a83a2e8ed/1584981869137/Covid-19+Sanitizing+Congregational+Spaces.pdf

How To Return to Your Building/ In Person Worship

You can continue to find Covid-19 resources at our Regional and Denominational websites:

Please let your Region Church know when you plan to return to your buildings and how we can best support you as you transition.

What Your Region Is Doing

  • The Regional Staff will continue to work from home through the month of May. This could change as data and information continue to emerge. We are easily accessible Monday – Friday, via email, phone, text. I am available via Zoom with an appointment.
  • The Camp Ministry has discerned to cancel 2020 Summer Camp and related Events.
  • 2020 Regional Assembly/Fall Feast has been postponed to September 2021.  

Clergy Opportunities To Stay Connected:

  • Weekly Zoom Clergy Gathering: The Meditation Room, Tuesdays, 8:00AM-9:00AM                        A time of support, inspiration, encouragement and ministry of presence with a brief meditation by one of your colleagues/friends
  • Monthly Clergy Luncheon: 2nd Tuesday Monthly, 11:30AM -1:00PM                                                  This luncheon was a metro Denver in-person gathering. Due to the crisis, it is now on Zoom for all clergy in the region

Always Remember: God loves you and so do I, and there is nothing you can do about it!

Happy Pentecost Birthday Church!!! May We Be The Church Of God’s Heart!

Joan

Joan Bell-Haynes, Executive Regional Minister

5/21/2020

FROM JOAN’S DESK

“The Spirit of God, the Master, is on me because God anointed me. He sent me to preach good news to the poor, heal the heartbroken, Announce freedom to all captives, pardon all prisoners. God sent me to announce the year of his grace – a celebration of God’s destruction of our enemies – and to comfort all who mourn, To care for the needs of all who mourn in Zion, give them bouquets of roses instead of ashes, Messages of joy instead of news of doom, a praising heart instead of a languid spirit. Rename them “Oaks of Righteousness” planted by God to display his glory. They’ll rebuild the old ruins, raise a new city out of the wreckage. They’ll start over on the ruined cities, take the rubble left behind and make it new”.

Isaiah 61:1-4 The Message

Dear God’s Beloved CRMR Family!

Good News! I will not give you all of my words this week. What I will do is “call us to more prayer”. Because I know you are already praying.

In our Regional Board meeting (March 14-15), our board moderator: Rev. Vinnetta Golphin-Wilkerson, Granger Community Christian Church, West Valley, Utah, intentionally called us to discern what God is calling us to do and be in this unprecedented and difficult time. What are we to do when the Covid-19 Pandemic is still very much with us (is likely to be well into 2021 when a vaccine may be ready) in addition to the existing challenges before the virus: poverty, racism, climate crisis, mass shootings in schools and public gatherings and the continued decline in church attendance and church closings (add your own concerns to this list).

Rev. Vinnetta asked us: Who are we to be as the church now and in the next 3 years. We will continue together in discernment through June. I invite you to please join us in discernment using the Isaiah text in Lectio Divina fashion. What is ours to do as followers of Jesus during such a time as this?

A Call To Prayer/Discernment

  1. Settle into your prayer place and  position.
  2. Silence your mind. Recognize what is claiming your attention. Give it to God to hold while you seek to hear God calling you and your faith community. You may not have the need to get them back J
  3. Read Isaiah 61:1-4
  4. What words or phrases resonate with or challenges you? What sensations do you notice in your whole being?
  5. Write them down
  6. Practice 5 minutes of Silence
  7. Read Isaiah 61:1-4 again
  8. What are the concerns that burden you or bring joy to your heart?
  9. Write them down
  10. Practice 5 minutes of Silence
  11. Read Isaiah 61:1-4 again
  12. What words or phrases resonate with or challenge you? What sensations do you notice in your whole being?
  13. What do you feel God calling us as church to do at this time?What is yours to do? What is ours as a faith community/region to do?
  14. Write it down
  15. Practice 5 minutes of Silence
  16. Close your discernment with a prayer, hymn, of song
  17. Repeat steps 1-16 if you leave this process without a sense of God calling

Please share with your regional church what you have heard: joan@crmrdoc.org; 303.561.1790

Thank you for the gift of your prayers.

Helpful Resources:

VIRTUAL CAMPFIRE Gatherings for CRMR Youth for 6 weeks:

All Jr (3rd-5th), Chi Rho (6th-8th) and CYF (9th-12th) age youth are invited to participate.

Cost: Free

When: Tuesdays, 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm June 2 – July 7, 2020

A link to the meetings will be sent only to those who sign up in order to keep them secure (so please do not share or publicize the link, we don’t want zoom-crashers).

Sign up: by email: skgarrison50@gmail.com you will be sent a reply with a link

Family and Children Ministry Resources & Celebrating Your Graduates:

https://www.docfamiliesandchildren.org
https://www.docfamiliesandchildren.org/graduates

Chuck Blaisdell/FCC, Takoma, Washington Covid-19 Offerings:

https://www.fcctacoma.org/covid-19-resources

The UCC/PCUSA Insurance Board: Understanding Your Insurance Board Coverage

Reopening Your Church Office

Center For Disease Control: Reopening

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/reopen-guidance.html

For Small Congregations:

Sanitizing Your Congregation

https://static1.squarespace.com/static/508590e6e4b02e0cbd20fcfc/t/5e78e76bc293951a83a2e8ed/1584981869137/Covid-19+Sanitizing+Congregational+Spaces.pdf

How To Return to Your Building/ In Person Worship

You can continue to find Covid-19 resources at our Regional and Denominational websites:

Please let your Region Church know when you plan to return to your buildings and how we can best support you as you transition.

What Your Region Is Doing

  • The Regional Staff will continue to work from home through the month of May. This could change as data and information continue to emerge. We are easily accessible Monday – Friday, via email, phone, text. I am available via Zoom with an appointment.
  • The Camp Ministry has discerned to cancel 2020 Summer Camp and related Events.
  • 2020 Regional Assembly/Fall Feast has been postponed to September 2021.  

Clergy Opportunities To Stay Connected:

  • Weekly Zoom Clergy Gathering: The Meditation Room, Tuesdays, 8:00AM-9:00AM                        A time of support, inspiration, encouragement and ministry of presence with a brief meditation by one of your colleagues/friends
  • Monthly Clergy Luncheon: 2nd Tuesday Monthly, 11:30AM -1:00PM                                                  This luncheon was a metro Denver in-person gathering. Due to the crisis, it is now on Zoom for all clergy in the region

Always Remember: God loves you and so do I, and there is nothing you can do about it!

Joan

Joan Bell-Haynes, Executive Regional Minister

5/14/2020

FROM JOAN’S DESK

And we urge you, beloved . . . Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:14-18

Dear God’s Beloved CRMR Family!

How is your heart today? What brings joy to your heart. What makes your heart heavy? The Apostle Paul encourages us to “rejoice always, pray without ceasing and give thanks in all circumstances because this is God’s desire for us in Christ Jesus.” How can I sing praises to God when I am sad, angry, concerned and fearful? Sad because we are still losing people to Covid-19  daily. As of today: Colorado has over 1000 deaths, 7 in Wyoming, 75 in Utah, 69 in Idaho and 208 in New Mexico. Angry because young black men and women are being gunned down in broad daylight because of racism in our country. Fearful for us that our church buildings are still be places and spaces where we are more likely to get the Covid-19 virus leading someone to possibly die from it. Concerned for the more than 20.5 Americans who are no longer receiving a paycheck as of 10:31AM this morning.

As I continue to follow the science available, seek the latest data on the covid-19, attend the  Governor of Colorado’s conference calls, discuss the pandemic with my colleagues, including our General Minister and pray, I remain concerned. I am also in agreement with a dear friend and colleague, Rev. Debra W. Haffner, senior pastor of the Unitarian Universalist Church, Reston, Virginia who wrote these words in her pastoral letter this week to the congregation:

“NOTHING WE DO INSIDE OUR CHURCH WALLS IS WORTH DYING FOR”

With all of this sadness, anger, concern and fear, I sat down and started singing the words my beloved Mom sung to her 7 children on Mother’s Day via Zoom: “Lord I thank you for being here. If it wasn’t for the Lord, where would we be. It is just another Mother’s Day that the Lord has allowed us to be here”. The truth, you wouldn’t call what I do singing, so let’s just say I was making a joyful noise to the Lord.  But I am thankful to God that I am still here.

Yesterday, in the clergy meditation room, I prayed the hymn God of Grace and God of Glory. I didn’t dare try to sing it. I researched the story of how this hymn came to be. Some of you may know the history:

“Harry Emerson Fosdick was the author of this hymn.  Fosdick was ordained in 1903 as a Baptist minister.  He was obviously a man of great talent, but controversial. John D. Rockefeller, however, recognized his talent and asked him to serve as pastor of Park Avenue Baptist Church.  Fosdick refused, in part because of Rockefeller’s wealth and in part because Park Avenue Baptist Church was too swank.  Rockefeller didn’t give up, though, and finally persuaded Fosdick to be the pastor of a new church that he would build in a more modest area near Harlem — Riverside Church.  After gaining a number of concessions, Fosdick finally agreed.  He wrote “God of Grace and God of Glory” to be sung at the opening service of that great church. This hymn is a prayer — a prayer for God to bestow power upon the church — and wisdom — and courage “for the facing of this hour.”  The hour that they were facing at that time was the Great Depression — an economic disaster that drained the nation of life and hope.  “For the facing of this hour,” however, is a timeless phrase, because there is never a time when we do not need God’s help “for the facing of this hour.”

“Save us from weak resignation” is an important part of the prayer.  “Save us from weak resignation to the evils we deplore.”  We are always tempted to believe that the evils that we face far outstrip our resources to deal with them — tempted to retreat into a safe place and wait for the storm to blow over — but evil unopposed doesn’t blow over.  It takes the sacrifices of dedicated men and women to build a better world.

“Grant us wisdom, grant us courage, for the facing of this hour.”  That was a good prayer when Fosdick first wrote this hymn in 1930.  It is a good prayer today.”

Copyright 2006, Richard Niell Donovan

It is still a good prayer today.

  1. God of grace and God of glory,

On Thy people pour Thy power. Crown Thine ancient church’s story, Bring her bud to glorious flower. Grant us wisdom, grant us courage, For the facing of this hour, For the facing of this hour.

  • Lo! the hosts of evil ’round us, Scorn Thy Christ, assail His ways. From the fears that long have bound us, Free our hearts to faith and praise. Grant us wisdom, grant us courage, For the living of these days, For the living of these days. 

Words by: Harry Emerson Fosdick 
Music by: John Hughes 

Come God’s beloved, let us give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for us.  Give God the praise whether our hearts are joyful or not. Give God a sacrifice of praise and allow God to transform our sadness into joy, our fear into boldness and our anger into righteous indignation. Then maybe we will be able “to build a better world” for God out of this mess.  Amen

Helpful Resources:

VIRTUAL CAMPFIRE Gatherings for CRMR Youth for 6 weeks:

All Jr (3rd-5th), Chi Rho (6th-8th) and CYF (9th-12th) age youth are invited to participate.

Cost: Free

When: Tuesdays, 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm June 2 – July 7, 2020

A link to the meetings will be sent only to those who sign up in order to keep them secure (so please do not share or publicize the link, we don’t want zoom-crashers).

Sign up: by email: skgarrison50@gmail.com you will be sent a reply with a link

Family and Children Ministry Resources & Celebrating Your Graduates:

https://www.docfamiliesandchildren.org
https://www.docfamiliesandchildren.org/graduates

Chuck Blaisdell/FCC, Takoma, Washington Covid-19 Offerings:

https://www.fcctacoma.org/covid-19-resources

The UCC/PCUSA Insurance Board: Understanding Your Insurance Board Coverage

Reopening Your Church Office

Center For Disease Control: Reopening

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/reopen-guidance.html

For Small Congregations:

Sanitizing Your Congregation

https://static1.squarespace.com/static/508590e6e4b02e0cbd20fcfc/t/5e78e76bc293951a83a2e8ed/1584981869137/Covid-19+Sanitizing+Congregational+Spaces.pdf

How To Return to Your Building/ In Person Worship

You can continue to find Covid-19 resources at our Regional and Denominational websites:

Please let your Region Church know when you will return to your buildings and how we can best support you as you transition.

What Your Region Is Doing

  • The Regional Staff will continue to work from home through the month of May. This could change as data and information continue to emerge. We are easily accessible Monday – Friday, via email, phone, text. I am available via Zoom with an appointment.
  • The Camp Ministry has discerned to cancel 2020 Summer Camp and related Events.
  • 2020 Regional Assembly/Fall Feast has been postponed to September 2021.  

Clergy Opportunities To Stay Connected:

  • Weekly Zoom Clergy Gathering: The Meditation Room, Tuesdays, 8:00AM-9:00AM                        A time of support, inspiration, encouragement and ministry of presence with a brief meditation by one of your colleagues/friends
  • Monthly Clergy Luncheon: 2nd Tuesday Monthly, 11:30AM -1:00PM                                                  This luncheon was a metro Denver in-person gathering. Due to the crisis, it is now on Zoom for all clergy in the region

Always Remember: God loves you and so do I, and there is nothing you can do about it!

Joan

Joan Bell-Haynes, Executive Regional Minister

5/7/2020

FROM JOAN’S DESK

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

Hebrews 11:1 NRSV

Dear God’s Beloved CRMR Family!

Our communities are slowing opening up again and we as people of faith are preparing to return to our church buildings while Covid-19 is still with us; less so for some areas of our region and more so in others. Some of our congregations will return on this Sunday, Mother’s Day. Some are planning to return with a hybrid format: in-person and virtual worship services.

Our General Minister and President and our General Ministries are asking my regional colleagues and I how they can best support our congregations. Our regional district representatives will be contacting you, if they haven’t already to engage you in what have you found exciting about the challenge of the covid-19 pandemic? What is difficult and disconcerting about this time? What are resources do you need now, in your return plans and in the future? What ministries are being hampered by Covid-19? Are there ministers, families and individuals that need support in your congregation or community? I invite you to let your Region Church know when you will return to your buildings and how we can best support you as you transition.

In our planning for return to our buildings may our hope in God flourish. After all, we are people of faith and in being so, we are people of hope. For hope transforms anxiety into courage. Hope converts fear into creativity. Hope conquers death and gives birth to resurrection. Hope is our way out of this crisis, our way through the pain, death and grief of loss and our path to the future. Our hope for the future lies in and with God:

“10 For thus says the Lord: Only when Babylon’s seventy years are completed will I visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. 11 For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” Jeremiah 29:10-11 NRSV

In many ways we have been in exile. Have we not? Richard Rohr speaks of having a hope that is not depend on outcomes but is a source of grounding. Journey with him into this meditation on hope:

“Mystical Hope Thursday,  April 16, 2020

Hope is the main impulse of life. —Ilia Delio, OSF [1]

Because we are so quickly led to despair, most of us cannot endure suffering for long without some sliver of hope or meaning. However, it is worth asking ourselves about where our hope lies. My friend and colleague Cynthia Bourgeault makes a powerful distinction between what she calls

ordinary hope, “tied to outcome . . . . an optimistic feeling . . . because we sense that things will get better in the future” and mystical hope “that is a complete reversal of our usual way of looking at things. Beneath the ‘upbeat’ kind of hope that parts the seas and pulls rabbits out of hats, this other hope weaves its way as a quiet, even ironic counterpoint.” She writes,

We might make the following observations about this other kind of hope, which we will call mystical hope. In contrast to our usual notions of hope:

Mystical hope is not tied to a good outcome, to the future. It lives a life of its own, seemingly without reference to external circumstances and conditions.

It has something to do with presence—not a future good outcome, but the immediate experience of being met, held in communion, by something intimately at hand.

It bears fruit within us at the psychological level in the sensations of strength, joy, and satisfaction: an “unbearable lightness of being.” But mysteriously, rather than deriving these gifts from outward expectations being met, it seems to produce them from within. . .

[It] is all too easy to understate and miss that hope is not intended to be an extraordinary infusion, but an abiding state of being. We lose sight of the invitation—and in fact, our responsibility, as stewards of creation—to develop a conscious and permanent connection to this wellspring. We miss the call to become a vessel, to become a chalice into which this divine energy can pour; a lamp through which it can shine. . . .

We ourselves are not the source of that hope; we do not manufacture it. But the source dwells deeply within us and flows to us with an unstinting abundance, so much so that in fact it might be more accurate to say we dwell within it. . . .

The good news is that this deeper current does exist and you actually can find it. . . . For me the journey to the source of hope is ultimately a theological journey: up and over the mountain to the sources of hope in the headwaters of the Christian Mystery. This journey to the wellsprings of hope is not something that will change your life in the short range, in the externals. Rather, it is something that will change your innermost way of seeing. From there, inevitably, the externals will rearrange. . . .

The journey to the wellsprings of hope is really a journey toward the center, toward the innermost ground of our being where we meet and are met by God.” https://cac.org/mystical-hope-2020-04-16/

May we hope to be a better people for God. May we hope for our buildings to become more of a tool for ministry and less of a place to be worshipped. May we hope to become more fully:

“. . . Disciples of Christ, a movement for wholeness in a fragmented world.

Helpful Resources:

Family and Children Ministry Resources & Celebrating Your Graduates: https://www.docfamiliesandchildren.org https://www.docfamiliesandchildren.org/graduates

The UCC/PCUSA Insurance Board: Understanding Your Insurance Board Coverage https://www.insuranceboard.org/understanding-your-ib-coverage/

Reopening Your Church Office https://www.insuranceboard.org/reopening-your-church-office/

Center For Disease Control: Reopening https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/reopen-guidance.html

For Small Congregations: https://saranavefisher.com/2020/04/25/small-churches-and-re-opening-our-doors/?fbclid=IwAR3JRlOMUPTDD1IF9_nSKXeMqJoDOdy1DdqyqUYnGboEe4APkkNbSCBgFvI

Sanitizing Your Congregation https://static1.squarespace.com/static/508590e6e4b02e0cbd20fcfc/t/5e78e76bc293951a83a2e8ed/1584981869137/Covid-19+Sanitizing+Congregational+Spaces.pdf

How To Return to Your Building/ In Person Worship https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0uAKQXagwms&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR1_E6GfxWK2pOP6sC_BWJBqqUZyBYORBB074kOxS3p6kN8wLITGZrIEe84

You can continue to find Covid-19 at our Regional and Denominational websites:

· http://www.crmrdoc.org/for-i-am-convinced/ · https://disciples.org

What Your Region Is Doing

· The Regional Staff will continue to work from home through the month of May. This could change as data and information continue to emerge. We are easily accessible Monday – Friday, via email, phone, text. I am available via Zoom with an appointment.

· The Camp Ministry has discerned to cancel 2020 Summer Camp and related Events.

· 2020 Regional Assembly/Fall Feast has been postponed to September 2021.

Clergy Opportunities To Stay Connected:

· Weekly Zoom Clergy Gathering: The Meditation Room, Tuesdays, 8:00AM-9:00AM A time of support, inspiration, encouragement and ministry of presence with a brief meditation by one of your colleagues/friends

· Monthly Clergy Luncheon: 2nd Tuesday Monthly, 11:30AM -1:00PM This luncheon was a metro Denver in-person gathering. Due to the crisis, it is now on Zoom for all clergy in the region

Always Remember: God loves you and so do I, and there is nothing you can do about it!

Joan

Joan Bell-Haynes, Executive Regional Minister

4/30/2020

FROM JOAN’S DESK

12 So, brothers and sisters, because of God’s mercies, I encourage you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice that is holy and pleasing to God. This is your appropriate priestly service. Don’t be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you can figure out what God’s will is—what is good and pleasing and mature. Romans 12:1-2 Common English Bible (CEB)

Eastertide Greetings God’s Beloved CRMR Family!

Last week, the critical question I asked of you was to begin discerning with your congregation when and what returning would look like for you. Our country’s leadership ramped up its discussion of lifting the Coronavirus/Covid-19 “stay home” restrictions.  Indeed, some states opened up the end of last week including Utah and Colorado.

I have been in meetings with my regional colleagues, our General Minister and President and Pastors of our Racial Ethnic Ministries about this very pressing and present question. What clearly emerged out our time of discernment was “caution and preparation”. We want to theologically and practically discernment when to return to our sacred buildings and planned events.  One of my colleagues aptly named her pastoral letter last week: “Return to Worship or Still Safer at Home”. That is really the question.

Here is what we discerned and recommend to you:

A Letter to the Church on Being the Church in This Moment

Dear Disciples of Christ,

As your Regional Ministry colleagues, we have listened carefully and prayerfully to the questions you are asking about when and how to meet again in person as the Church. We are asking many of the same questions.

We miss being with you in the spaces where we worship God together, witness the baptisms of eager youth full of hope and share the Bread of Life and the Cup of Salvation. It has been months now since last we hugged or shook hands. It has been too long since we have seen you in person, and yet we continue to be inspired by your acts of service and leadership that we see on-line, and we continue to celebrate your ministry and share your story. It troubles our spirits to know that we cannot be physically present for funerals, visit at hospital bedsides or join in the celebrations of commissioning or ordination.

We are aware that this is an unprecedented time of challenge and uncertainty. Even medical experts are not ready to declare that they understand fully how this very contagious virus works, the range at which it can spread, or how to enhance prevention with a vaccine. It has already cost the lives of tens of thousands of our neighbors and more than a million confirmed cases have been reported in the U.S. and Canada.

The disease does not discriminate but we can take steps to protect the most vulnerable among us.

First and foremost, we write to encourage you to be patient and take your time, and not rush back into full in-person activities before we are confident it is safe to do so. We also write to ask that you join us in considering these questions when you discuss whether and how to be together again in sanctuaries, fellowship halls, classrooms, offices, and other special, sacred spaces. In addition to logistical questions about how to share communion, have appropriate social distancing, and disinfect the sanctuary, etc., consider these deeper, theological questions also:

  • How have you found ways to share in ministry without gathering as you normally did?
  • If you hosted online worship, Bible study, or other ministry, what have you discovered that may be encouraging or helpful for the times ahead?
  • Who are the people among you who have shown themselves to be strong, loving, and wise companions in this challenging time?
  • We are often acutely aware of what we miss in a time such as this. Has the congregation gained anything that it did not have or realize a gift or a strength it already had before?
  • In what ways might the congregation be affected if, because of contracting the novel corona virus at your next in-person gathering, a member or visitor’s illness resulted in death?
  • Jesus said to the first disciples: I give you a new commandment, that you love one another.

Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. John 13:34 (NRSV) What will we do, who love one another as Jesus loved, when the medical community continues to call attention to the risks of in-person meetings?

We do not presume to have all the answers for you. Every congregation will prayerfully and carefully discern for itself how and when to reconnect onsite. What we can offer is to tell you how we Regional Ministers and the General Units of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) are dealing with our own gatherings.

We will not make on-site visits for the time being. We believe that we have a responsibility to exercise an abundance of caution for the safety of all those we serve. We will reconsider that decision when there is more medical evidence that the pandemic has been effectively contained.

We are carrying on our work online, many from spaces in our homes. We are meeting once a week by Zoom and we are connecting with pastors and lay leaders by phone, email, text, and social media. We are sharing some of the best information and creative resources being compiled. These are available on disciples.org, regional websites and social media outlets. Frankly, we would be devastated if the health of any one of us were compromised because another of us were, unknowingly, carriers of the virus. By God’s grace and your support, we have the means to keep in touch, do the work you have come to expect from us, and pray with you.

We Disciples are a people bound by nothing more or less than a covenant with God and one another. When we read together in worship the Preamble to the Design for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), we conclude with this powerful reminder of the extent of our shared calling:

“In the bonds of Christian faith we yield ourselves to God that we may serve the One whose kingdom has no end.

Blessing, glory, and honor be to God forever. Amen.”

With you, we desire to bless, glorify, and honor God in this moment and always.  Affectionately yours in Christ,

The College of Regional Ministers, Christian Church (Disciples Of Christ)

As you engage and wrestle together with the question of when to safely return to your building and resume regular and planned events, I am here to walk alongside you in your discernment. I will continue to provide you with resources that can guide and support you in preparing you to continue to “be and make disciples” of Christ where God has planted you.

Helpful Resources:

The UCC/PCUSA Insurance Board: Understanding Your Insurance Board Coverage

Reopening Your Church Office

Center For Disease Control: Reopening

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/reopen-guidance.html

What Your Region Is Doing

  • The Regional Staff will continue to work from home through the month of May. This could change as data and information continue to emerge. We are easily accessible Monday – Friday, via email, phone, text. I am available via Zoom with an appointment.
  • The Camp Ministry has discerned to cancel 2020 Summer Camp and related Events.
  • 2020 Regional Assembly/Fall Feast continues to discern whether to move forward with our schedule gathering in September. Stay tuned

Clergy Opportunities To Stay Connected:

  • Weekly Zoom Clergy Gathering: The Meditation Room, Tuesdays, 8:00AM-9:00AM                        A time of support, inspiration, encouragement and ministry of presence with a brief meditation by one of your colleagues/friends
  • Monthly Clergy Luncheon: 2nd Tuesday Monthly, 11:30AM -1:00PM                                                  This luncheon was a metro Denver in-person gathering. Due to the crisis, it is now on Zoom for all clergy in the region

Two questions that remain a part of my discernment as your regional leader during this time are:

  1. What is the safest and most compassionate thing to do for the most vulnerable? With this virus, we continue to see that all of us are vulnerable. Babies children, young and not so young, we are all getting Covid-19. And tragically, some are dying. The virus does not discriminate. My sister who works at a clinic in Middle Georgia, was rushed to the hospital after registering fever of 103 for more than a day and a half. She was sent home after being tested for Covid-19 and a pneumonia diagnosis. She tested negative for Covid-19. But she is very sick.
  2. Secondly, what is our liability, both morally and legally, if someone were to come to our place of worship or event and contract the virus? The nature of our faith is relational, our entire worship liturgy is communal. When we sing, recite the Lord’s Prayer, enact the Lord’s Supper, Pass the Peace,  and even speak to each other, we could be sharing the virus.  When we gather for camp or assembly in any way as the faithful, we express love and connectedness.

No, we have never been here before. But this one thing we know:

“Certainly the faithful love of the Lord hasn’t ended; certainly God’s compassion isn’t through!
23 They are renewed every morning. Great is your faithfulness. 24 I think: The Lord is my portion! Therefore, I’ll wait for him.”

Come God’s beloved, let us “figure out what God’s will is—what is good and pleasing and mature” in this new, difficult and unprecedented season of our lives. Christ is Risen! We are a resurrection people and we will have come through this.

Always Remember: God loves you and so do I, and there is nothing you can do about it!

Joan

Joan Bell-Haynes, Executive Regional Minister

4/23/2020

FROM JOAN’S DESK
 
“I thank my God every time I mention you in my prayers. I’m thankful for all of you every time I pray… I’m sure about this: the one who started a good work in you will stay with you to complete the job by the day of Christ Jesus…  Philippians 1:3-11 CEB
 
 
Eastertide Greetings God’s Beloved CRMR Family!
I love the Apostle Paul’s greeting to the church at Philippi! “I thank my God every time I think of you. Every time I pray for you, I thank God. See, this new and good work you are now doing, is certainly going to be completed because it is God who has begun it in you.”
 
Indeed, my cup overflows with thanksgiving and joy for you. It was especially so this Easter as I worshiped with as many of you as I could in your virtual celebrations! You are facing the challenges of the Coronavirus/ Covid-19 Pandemic in ways that are changing the way we see and do church. We are inspiring each other, learning from each other and connecting more deeply with each other. In the midst of the most horrific crisis of our lifetime, you are working overtime with God to resurrect the Church for this new season we find ourselves in.
 
Those of you who rarely used email are now using Facebook live to preach the “good news.” Holy Glory! You are having virtual coffee hours. I hear that you are getting more guest visits to virtual church that to regular church. One congregation had a person to join their community on Easter Sunday! Look at God!!! We are more eager to talk to each other. The commitment to stay at home is making us yearn for the gift of each other’s presence.  We are inspiring each other to see and seek ways that we can care for our neighbors and the most vulnerable among us (taking meals to our local hospitals, making protective mask for our hospital staff, family, friends, neighbors and strangers, sending notes, making phone calls, expressing gratitude to and praying for medical staff and all of our front line workers). Thank you for the lavishness of our kindness and compassion.
 
I celebrate what we have accomplished in mitigating the advance of Covid-19 by staying home and self-quarantining ourselves. Some states are showing a flattening of the curve of persons with the virus. True there are some hospitals that are not as overrun with covid-19 patients. True, testing is more accessible. True, the number of persons testing positive is slowly declining. These gains are worth celebrating.  However, each of us we must wrestle with the question in our own context, with our own congregation.
 
As our local, state and national leaders began re-open our communities, I call upon us to begin our own discernment and preparation for returning to our buildings. Let’s keep at the core of our decision-making what is the best and healthiest thing for us to do to continue to protect ourselves and the most vulnerable among us. Congressman Joe Kennedy III wrote:
“It is among the most basic human truths: Every one of us, some day, will be brought to our knees. By a diagnosis we didn’t expect, a phone call we can’t imagine, or a loss we cannot endure. That common humanity inspires our mercy. It fortifies our compassion. It drives us to look out for the sick, the elderly, the poor, and the most vulnerable among us. …This nation’s character has never been defined by the power we give the already strong — but by the strength we give the weak.”
 
The question that we face is what do we need to do to be ready to move into our “new normal or new abnormal” where our ministry focuses on giving strength to the weak?
 
Here are some resources that I hope will be helpful in your discernment:
 

  • From colleague and friend Bishop Valerie Melvin, North Carolina Regional Minister -A  video created by Jake Morrill from the Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church in Oak Ridge, TN. It’s short and a good frame for how we can look at
    questions moving forward.

     
  • This list originated out of Kansas as a result of congregations wanting to return to their regular in-person worship with special thanks to Rick Spleth, Indiana Regional Minister – Judge Broomes’ order specified 24 protocols the churches will have to follow to have in-person services:
  1. Prior to and following the in-person service, the facility will be deep-cleaned
  2. Invitations will be directed to regular church attendees for this in-person service
  3. Individuals will be advised to continue to engage in “stay at home” protocols as directed by executive order 20-16 in order to attend the service
  4. No church members are known to have had any contact with known COVID-19 confirmed cases
  5. Attendees will be advised to perform temperature checks at home on all attendees prior to attending the service. Individuals that are ill or have fevers will not attend
  6. High-risk individuals will be advised not to attend the in-person service
  7. Attendees will be advised to bring their own personal protective equipment, including masks and gloves
  8. Attendees will be advised not to engage in handshaking or other physical contact
  9. Hand sanitizer will be available for use throughout the facility
  10. The in-person service will be limited to 50 individuals in a space that has a capacity for 300 individuals (a cross-shaped auditorium 50 feet by 74 feet at the center; 2,950 square feet total, allowing almost 57 square feet available to each attendee at maximum social distancing)
  11. Co-habitating family units may sit closer together but otherwise the maximum social distancing possible will be used, however, at a minimum, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommended protocol will be observed with a minimum distance of at least six feet
  12. A single point of entry and single point of exit on opposite sides of the building will be used, establishing a one-way traffic pattern to ensure social distancing
  13. Ventilation will be increased as much as possible, opening windows and doors, as weather permits
  14. These procedures will be communicated to church members in advance of the service
  15. Church bulletin and offering plates will not be used during the service
  16. Attendees will be advised to wash their clothes following the service
  17. If Church leadership becomes aware of a clear, immediate, and imminent threat to the safety of the attendees or cannot follow the protocols listed above, the gathering will be immediately disbanded.
  18. Splitting out pews and marking designated sitting areas to keep non-cohabitating congregants at least six feet apart before, during, and after the worship service
  19. Marking multiple entrances to encourage socially distanced foot traffic
  20. Propping doors open to prevent the need for congregants to touch doors while entering and exiting the church or sanctuary
  21. Suspending passing offering plates and bulletins
  22. Actively discouraging handshaking or other social touching
  23. Offering hand sanitizer throughout the building
  24. Providing face masks to offer to any interested persons

 
This is an onerous list. I share it because it conveys how much is needed to prepare our sanctuaries/buildings to be healthy and safe. It also makes us aware of just how much we are not ready to return to in-person gatherings. Think about this: We do not have a vaccine. There is no cure for Covid-19. We do not have accessible testing for the masses. We do not have herd immunity. Are we really ready to return to worship and the work of ministry in our regular spaces and places, even if we can?
 
What Your Region Is Doing
Shelly Garrison, our regional associate for camp and conference is gathering her team to come to a decision about camp this year. Our regional board has been in discernment about how we move forward with Fall Feast/Regional Assembly and other scheduled events for the remainder of the year.  Jennifer and I will continue to work from home for the foreseeable future. We are easily accessible Monday – Friday, via email, phone, text. I am available via Zoom with an appointment. We are constantly seeking resources that will support you creating new ways to “make disciples.”
 
Clergy Opportunities To Stay Connected:
 

  • Weekly Zoom Clergy Gathering: The Meditation Room, Tuesdays, 8:00 AM-9:00 AM                        A time of support, inspiration, encouragement and ministry of presence with a brief meditation by one of your colleagues/friends
  • Monthly Clergy Luncheon: 2nd Tuesday Monthly, 11:30 AM -1:00 PM                                                  This luncheon was a metro Denver in-person gathering. Due to the crisis, it is now on Zoom for all clergy in the region

 
…This is my prayer: that your love might become even more and more rich with knowledge and all kinds of insight. 10 I pray this so that you will be able to decide what really matters and so you will be sincere and blameless on the day of Christ. 11 I pray that you will then be filled with the fruit of righteousness, which comes from Jesus Christ, in order to give glory and praise to God.” Philippians 1:3-11 CEB
 
Remember: God loves you and so do I, and there is nothing you can do about it!
 
Joan
Joan Bell-Haynes, Executive Regional Minister

4/9/2020

 FROM JOAN’S DESK
 
ANCIENT WORDS . . .
I  haven’t a whole lot to say this week. I imagine you are saying,  good. She has given us too many words over these last weeks. 
 
This week is ‘the holiest of weeks for we who bear the name Christian. Instead of my words this week, let’s return to the Holy words of the ancient texts of our faith. Ancient words that remind us who we are, what we believe and what we are called to do. As we read these ancient texts again in spaces and places; both familiar and unfamiliar; may we let them wash over us many times as this week unfolds. May these ancient words sink deep down into our flesh, bones, mind and spirit.
 
Into our flesh, heavy of carrying the anxiety and fear of the Novel Coronavirus/Covid-19 Pandemic that is ravaging our communities one by one across the globe. Into our bones weary of data and curves that are not flattening quick enough because they reveal thousands of persons who have contracted the virus and thousands who have died. Into our spirits overwhelmed with sadness, anger, compassion and grief. Grief for what is and for what is yet to come.  Into minds filled with gratitude for congregations determined to be church even when we are called to “stay home and save lives”, scientists who truthfully tell us what they know about this silent killer and for the multitudes who live out their professions faithfully even though they could be the next to contract the virus including: medical teams (doctors, nurses, chaplains, certified nurse assistants, cleaning teams, food service providers, hospital administrators, etc.) first responders, public sanitation workers garbage collectors, funeral homes, social workers, grocery store staff, pharmacy workers, food delivery persons, pastors, ministers of education, music, technology, administration, lay and faith leaders, local, state and national leaders.
 
May the ancient word “Hosanna” sung by the crowds exuberantly waving palms as Jesus made his way into Jerusalem find its way into every inch of our flesh breathing this truth: Jesus saves. Jesus rescues us from death. Jesus gives us his resurrection power. (Matthew 21:9)
 
Let these ancient words, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” seep into every pore of our skin, shaping us into living epistles- love letters from God to all of God people and creation. Then will we be true disciples of Christ. (John 13:34)
 
Bless these ancient words, “But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.” So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples.” to pierce our hearts so that the good news of Christ life, death and resurrection will fervently flow unhindered from deep within us with the message that God created each and every one of us and all of creation as “beloved revelations of God”. (Matthew 28:5-8)
  Ancient Words
Lynn DeShazo
 
Holy words long preserved
For our walk in this world
They resound with God’s own heart
O let the ancient words impart
Words of life words of hope
Give us strength help us cope
In this world where’er we roam
Ancient words will guide us home
 
Ancient words ever true
Changing me changing you
We have come with open hearts
O let the ancient words impart
 
Holy words of our faith
Handed down to this age
Came to us through sacrifice
O heed the faithful words of Christ
Holy words long preserved
For our walk in this world
They resound with God’s own heart
O let the ancient words impart
 
Ancient words ever true
Changing me changing you
We have come with open hearts
O let the ancient words impart
 
Martyr’s blood stains each page
They have died for this faith
Hear them cry through the years
Heed these words and hold them dear
 
Ancient words ever true
Changing me changing you
We have come with open hearts
O let the ancient words impart
 
We have come with open hearts
O let the ancient words impart
O let the ancient words impart
 
Amen. 
HAPPY EASTER-RESURRECTION GOD’S BELOVED!!!
MAY GOD’S SPIRIT MEET US IN THE VIRTUAL SPACES AND PLACES WHERE WE DWELL WITH GLORIOUS PRAISE IN SUCH A TIME AS THIS!!!
 
Joan
Joan Bell-Haynes, Executive Regional Minister

4/1/2020

FROM JOAN’S DESK
ALERT: ZOOM BOMBS: VIRTUAL/ONLINE WORSHIPS ARE BEING TAKEN OVER BY HACKERS!!!
One of our congregations had their first ZOOM Virtual Worship Bombed (similar to being photo bomb but in a malicious way). The intruder took over the Screen Share and displayed Anti-LBGTQ+, Anti-Abortion photos and offensive language multiple times. The congregation was eventually able to reclaim their screen and block what appeared to be multiple hackers.

What to do: Make sure the host is the only one controlling the “share screen”. Discern whether you want to publish your virtual worship link. If you publish your link, you are subject to hackers. You can give a private pin to your congregation providing access to your worship/meeting. However, this decision prohibits the ability of guests to join you in virtual worship.
https://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/national/fbi-warns-of-zoom-bombing-where-teleconferences-and-online-classrooms-are-hijacked

https://www.tomsguide.com/news/stop-zoom-bombing

On Tuesday, March 31, 2020, I launched our first Clergy Meditation Room on ZOOM!!! Thank you Duncan Miller, Cheryl Breiner, Teri Nilson Baird, Doug Goodwin and Bill Germundson for the gift of your presence! We reflected on the Matthew 21:1-11 Jesus Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem passage. “Jesus sent two of his disciples into the village to get a donkey and its baby colt. He said, If anyone says anything to you, just say this, “The Lord needs them.”
Summary of Reflection:
What do you need?
What does your family and congregation have need of today and all the days ahead of us?
What do you need during this Coronavirus Pandemic? Beyond this pandemic?
What do you need as we move toward Palm Sunday and our Holy Journey to the Cross with Jesus. A journey of sacrifice, suffering and faithful obedience. A journey to Easter/Resurrection Sunday? What do you need God’s beloved?
What do you have need of in order to fulfill God’s purpose for our life?

I invite us to hold each other in thought and prayer this week, for we all have needs.

  • Clergy Meditation Room/CMRm: Every Tuesday, 8-9AM (for now)
  • Meditations will be provided each week by one of our colleagues. It can be on anything of spiritual value: scripture, poetry, music, art, literature, etc. 
  • If you are clergy (active, retired, chaplain, minister in other arena) in the Central Rocky Mountain Region join us next week!
  •  April 7th, 8AM, Teri Nilson-Baird, meditation leader
  • April 14th Bill Germundson, meditation leader

If you have not received the ZOOM  invitation link please contact me: joan@crmrdoc.org/202.299.6511
I am in awe of you! You are visiting your parishioners while practicing social distancing. One pastor shared she visited one family who was so excited to see her outside their home that they all wanted to talk to her simultaneously. They quickly learned what a challenge that was, with all of them trying to talk to her at the same time. So, they set up interview times with their pastor at the window of their home. Another pastor is putting together Palm Sunday Packets to distribute to her members that includes portable communion. You are ZOOMing fellowship hour after Virtual Worship. Creating Online Bible Study groups. Members who have the gift of sewing are making masks for our local hospitals. You are taking food to hospital staff, keeping your food pantries going and most importantly “PRAYING”! Look at God!!!

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you for doing your part to slow Coronavirus/COVID-19. I know the news is not encouraging right now but we must preserve.  Dr. Deborah Birx,one of the government’s top doctors and the Coronavirus Response Coordinator, said on Tuesday, March 31, 2020, that “between 1.5 and 2.2 million people could die in the US from COVID-19 — and that’s only with the intervention of strict social distancing measures in place”. I keep hearing, “could die”. This is what the data models project. Let’s make it our goal to reduce this expectation to a significantly lower number of deaths. With God’s help, we got this!

https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/live-blog/live-coronavirus-updates-u-s-death-toll-passes-3-000-n1172706

https://www.tomsguide.com/news/stop-zoom-bombing

Beloveds, we must continue to stay home and reduce the number of lives this pandemic can claim. These numbers we are seeing (below) are somebody’s son, daughter, wife, husband, child, friend.

COVID-19: U.S. at a Glance*†

  • Total cases: 163,539
  • Total deaths: 2,860
  • Jurisdictions reporting cases: 55 (50 states, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands)

Cumulative total number of COVID-19 cases in the United States by report date, January 12, 2020 to March 30, 2020, at 4pm ET (n=163,539)*†

WHAT IS YOUR REGIONAL CHURCH ASKING OF YOU TODAY?
I know this is a repeat of my last Pastoral Letter. My husband often reminded me, “Repetition is learning”.

  • Continue To Stay Home Please. No Physical Worship
  •  Not Now. Not For Easter! Begin To Prepare Now
  • No In Person Meetings/Events Please
  • If you have rentals, etc. continue to communicate your decision to stay home and save lives
  • Continue to heighten sanitary practices
  • Encourage congregants and friends to set up giving with their financial institution, set up internet/web-based giving, ex: Givelify, Tithely, etc.

For How Long?

  • Until the Medical Coronavirus Task Force, Governmental Officials and Faith Leaders say we have accomplished the goal of slowing the spread of the virus and saved lives.

PRAYER
Every morning we wake up, O Lord, and tune our attention to the news, listening with the expectation that the curve has flattened; yet, the numbers keep rising.  Protect us from harm.  Keep us alert to what we need to do to keep our neighbors and ourselves healthy.  Encourage us to use our time wisely.  Some of us are over stress; others bored.  Lead us forward into the glory of your kingdom come here on earth. We give thanks to the Lord for creative ways that keep us connected in surprising ways.
We give thanks to the Lord for friends celebrating birthdays: 
We give thanks to the Lord for friends celebrating wedding anniversaries this week: 
We give thanks to the Lord for . . . 
We pray to the Lord for friends who have had their surgeries postponed to later times.
We pray to the Lord for patience in these strange times.
We pray to the Lord for . . .
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy . . . .  Amen. Rev. Doug Goodwin, First Christian Church, Sheridan, Wyoming

Joan
Joan Bell-Haynes, Executive Regional Minister

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” —Philippians 4:6 (NIV)

3/25/2020

FROM JOAN’S DESK
A lot has happened since last week with the Coronavirus/COVID-19 Pandemic. More tests are being administered across the country. As a result, more people are being diagnosed with the virus and receiving treatment. More of us are staying home and changing the way we gather with each. This is a real good thing.

Thank you for listening to the directives of your Pastor, faith leaders, expert medical professionals and local/ state/ national leaders in your discernment to cancel worship, meetings and events for the sake of vulnerable family, friends and neighbors.  I know you and your leadership struggled to come to this decision. What I have witnessed across the expanse of our Region is you allowing God’s spirit to tap into your creative potential. Wow! You are doing some amazing things: outdoor labyrinth worship, live steaming on Facebook/Zoom/GoToMeeting/YouTube, reaching out to members and neighbors offering to run errands. Thank you for your commitment to working together in solidarity with our communities to slow the spread of the virus and save lives. This pandemic will end!

But listen God’s beloved! We are not there yet. We cannot stop now. We must continue to stay home. Why? Because the virus is continuing to spread exponentially. The Center for Disease Control latest figures are:

COVID-19: U.S. at a Glance*

  • Total cases: 44,183
  • Total deaths: 544

Jurisdictions reporting cases: 54 (50 states, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and US Virgin Islands)
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-updates/cases-in-us.html

The rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. is doubling every 60 hours. Our health care delivery systems are overwhelmed. They are now operating without enough medical personnel, beds and protective equipment. Their own wellbeing is at risk. My sister is an administrator at a clinic in rural Georgia. Every day she leaves work with the fear that she might be carrying the disease home to her diabetic husband. She removes her shoes before she enters the house, removes her clothes and showers immediately and washes her clothes is hot water. As of yesterday, she shared that her small clinic has 10 Coronavirus testing kits on the premises for both staff and patients. This is just a small glimpse into what is happening across the country today.

WHAT IS YOUR REGIONAL CHURCH ASKING OF YOU TODAY?

  • Continue To Stay Home Please. No Physical Worship
  • Not Now. Not For Easter! Ask your pastor how can you help within the boundaries of social distancing mandates in your community.
  • No In-Person Meetings/Events Please. Follow your Pastor’s leadership.
  • Check on each other and your neighbor. Remember to practice social distancing!
  • Check on your pastor, staff and church leadership. They are working hard to lead you in these difficult times. Send them notes of gratitude, gift cards and pray for them and their families
  • Continue your financial giving. Talk to your financial institutions about automatic payments to your congregation.  Ask your pastor/layleader about setting up online giving. Here are a few options: Givelify, Tithely

For How Long?

  • Until the Medical Coronavirus Task Force, Governmental Officials and Faith Leaders say we have accomplished the goal of slowing the spread of the virus and saving lives.

https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public

I expect more stringent social distancing mandates in the days to come. The Mayor of Denver request all non- essential businesses to shut down and that people work from home as of 5pm on March 24, 2020 through April 10th. Our schools are closed and all events have been cancelled. We know that this could change any day based on hard data. God’s beloved, let us do our part with the joy of knowing that God is with us, God is faithful, God will give us victory if we stay the course.

I close my care for you with these words from the Apostle Paul, “Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8-9 NRSV

God loves you and so do I and there is nothing you can do about it!

Joan
Rev. Joan Bell-Haynes
Executive Regional Minister

Central Rocky Mountain Disciples Of Christ

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39 NRSV

I write this letter to you and to myself as we live amid the growing Coronavirus /COVID-19 Pandemic. I want to remind us as a Region of God’s grace and lavish unfailing love in these times of fear and uncertainty. As the Apostle Paul teaches us in this Romans passage: “there is nothing in all of creation that can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord”.

The disruption of our daily lives is unprecedented. Our governments and major institutions throughout the country are suspending events and activities for the foreseeable future. Our schools, colleges and universities are closing their campuses.  This is the world we now live in. But I am convinced that nothing will separate us from God’s love in Christ Jesus!

I have been in daily conversations with my regional colleagues, our moderator and vice-moderator and some of you about how to faithful live in the face of this virus that is rapidly advancing. We are diligently watching as the information about the Corona Virus COVID-19 Pandemic is changing daily.  We must respond to fear and uncertainty with the truth of the gospel.  God loves the world and calls us to live out that love in this world, right now!  

As your regional pastor, I pen these words to assure you of God’s grace and love for you and the world.  In this hour, we are called to be living epistles – love letters from God to God’s people throughout the world with acts of love, discernment, and wisdom.

RECOMMENDATIONS FROM THE REGION

  • I am recommending we suspend gathering for worship for the next two (2) weeks.
  • I recommend we suspend in person meetings as well for the next two (2) weeks.
  • Please contact me immediately if there is an outbreak of COVID-19/Corona Virus in your congregation or community
  • Please do not disclose publicly the name or personal information of anyone impacted by COVID-19/Corona Virus in your congregation or community.
  • Share what you and your congregations are doing to love one another, your neighbor and the stranger among you in the midst of the pandemic.

 WHAT IS THE CRMR DOING?

  1. ALL REGION RELATED TRAVEL IS SUSPENDED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE, including
    1. International Affairs Seminar for our youth
    1. Executive Minister’s Travel
    1. Regional Board Travel and Scheduled Regional Events (to be evaluated)
  • CONNECTED TO RELIABLE SOURCES FOR INFORMATION
    • General Church
    • Center for Disease Control
    • Public Health Officials
    • World Health Organization
  • SHARED INFORMATION and RESOURCES
    • Watch your Email for updates
    • Facebook Updates

GOD’S CALL TO BE LIVING EPISTLES – LIVING LOVE LETTERS TO THE WORLD

In the words of my colleague David Shirey simply stated: “our faith mandates us to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves. “In this circumstance, what does love require?

1. Love requires us to protect the vulnerable. 

This virus puts the elderly and people with compromised health conditions at special risk. To protect the vulnerable, we are making hard decisions to cancel corporate worship this Sunday and offer different worship formats that will safeguard our most vulnerable and address the deeply ingrained desire to worship weekly.

2. Love calls for us to seek the common good. 

By voluntarily taking a sacrificial action such as cancelling corporate worship, we love our neighbors by doing our part to take an action that we hope will slow down the spread of the virus, thereby preventing as-yet-healthy persons from contracting the virus or making it easier for infected persons who may not yet know of the infection to spread it unknowingly to others.

3. Love calls for us to act in solidarity with persons of good will. 

We choose to follow the best wisdom of public health officials, and we choose to join a community-, state-, nation- and worldwide concerted coalition whose cooperative efforts will protect the well-being of all people. 

4. Love calls for actions that minimize regret. 

If we were to proceed with events or activities that lead to the infection of persons or the unwitting spread of the virus, we would rue the decision to proceed with “business as usual” when we could have chosen otherwise.

I pray for God’s wisdom for us to live faithfully and lead with the confidence of Christ in these exceedingly difficult days. Let us pray for one another and the health and safety for all of God beloved children around the world. And so, God’s beloved, let us have confidence “no thing” will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Joan

 Joan Bell-Haynes, Executive Regional Minister

Share

Comments are closed.