A Pastoral Letter to the Members of the Pacific Mountain Region
As we learn to live with the circumstances created by COVID-19, the Regional Executive and Staff are searching for ways to relieve the profound stresses on Communities of Faith and leaders.
I am awed by you all and how you are exercising meaningful and safe ways of staying connected through online and printed worship resources as well as phone calls to those who feel loved and cared for in hearing a kind voice. Someone said to me today, “I’m loving the phone calls! People are being so kind.”
The Regional Executive members join me in being deeply grateful to our Regional Executive Minister and all our staff for their work in continuing to support and care for us all especially in these trying days.
The Executive met by video conference on Friday to discuss issues raised at the first online Townhall video conference, emergency financial support for Communities of Faith, and the 2020 General Meeting. The results are as follows:
- Approximately 100 people attended the Townhall meeting. The major concerns I heard expressed which I shared with the Executive included the desire for emergency funding to assist Communities of Faith in paying their staff, grief regarding the limiting and/or cancelling of all food services, online worship opportunities, and the long hours people are working from home. The next Townhall meeting will be Wednesday March 25th, at 1pm. There will be an agenda and a process for managing the opportunities to speak. See the Region’s website for more information.
- The Executive took action asking the Regional Executive Minister, with the support of staff, to put together an emergency plan for Communities of Faith in financial crisis. The details of the plan will be provided later this week.
- The General Meeting has been postponed to a date and location yet to be determined. I am grateful to the many people who have put months of work into planning this gathering and we will, at some point in the near future, gather again in person. The General Meeting details are not the highest priority for the Executive or the staff right now as our efforts are going into the care and support of one another in this crisis.
We are called to bear witness to the power of God’s grace at work in the world by exercising wise and compassionate behaviours. Many people, among them our beloveds, are taking risks to keep us safe and we must not increase their risk by disregarding the precautions we know we should and must take. So, please don’t panic. Stay home unless you are truly an essential service. Do not go out unless you must. Keep the physical distance requirements. Wash your hands thoroughly and often with soap and water.
Who would have thought that keeping physical distance from others would be a profound act of love? Who would have thought that the physical acts of kindness that we do instinctively would now put others at great risk for serious illness? This new way of being is hard for us all especially those with few options.
As I write my phone just pinged with this message. “Well, now I know I have friends! My upstairs neighbour left 4 rolls of TP at my door! Who would have thought that this would be a blessing!” This was sent from someone who has self-isolated after being in contact with someone who’s spouse is seriously ill and hospitalized with the virus.
Friends, this crisis will pass, and my prayer is that when it has, we will discover that we have deepened our practices of faith, found more meaningful ways to care for each other, become more generous and dismantled the social and economic “golden calves” of privilege.
The peace of Christ is with you all,
March 23, 2020