The Bridge Conference Ministers sent the following message to churches on April 1:
In the past week we have seen local and federal officials asking to continue the Stay Home / Stay Safe guidelines through the end of April. We have also heard the projection that there is an anticipation that the rate and number of people confirmed to have Covid – 19 will peak across the country in the next 2-3 weeks. It is also feared that the rate of death will peak shortly there after. The concern continues, as well, for the capacity of our medical system and the safety of health care professionals. In many of our local areas this has also led to the closure of public gathering places, including outdoor parks and beaches. Sadly, we have also seen stories from across the country of church gatherings being a place of virus transmission that has led to the death of church leaders and church members.
Your Bridge Conference Ministers want to ask you again to suspend all in – person services of worship through, at least, the end of April.
We are grateful for, and impressed by, the creativity that our clergy and church members are discovering that is allowing them to provide worship in safe ways. This includes ensuring no person to person contact or proximity and no chance that worship leaders and participants may be exposed to infection or contamination from this virus. The CDC and WHO have offered clear guidelines for all of us to follow in order to ensure people are keeping themselves, others and their loved ones safe. Thank you for helping us ‘flatten the curve’. It’s working.
Among the creative approaches being used by many pastors are "Drive In Church" (gathering in a parking lot, enclosed in your vehicles, while listening to the churches worship broadcast on the radio through a low range FM transmitter) and "Drive Through Church" (people drive through a parking lot to receive communion elements or Palm Branches). Folks have been experimenting with a variety of ways to attempt this within all the recommended protocols for precautions to avoid contamination or infection. When people asked about this we encouraged them to consult with their local or state health agents. This week we received word from a local health agent discouraging these approaches. People are people and there is no way to guarantee safety. And this week we have seen new and tighter restrictions and concerns. As your Conference staff we can no longer encourage these approaches, creative as they are.
Please visit SNEUCC Leadership Forum Facebook group for a conversation of some alternative approaches.
We also want you to know that your Conference and Denomination are offering worship resources for Holy Week and Easter. Your SNE Conference is developing an exceptional Easter service that will be available for churches to use in whole or in part. This will be posted and downloadable next week. For many of our churches you will want to use these resources on Easter Sunday. Some may look at the resources from our Conference and Denomination and utilize them for the Sunday following Easter. Our Conference’s Coronavirus webpages will give you links to these and many more resources.
Please know that we continue to pray for you in this extraordinary time. It is a time where the messages, meanings and stories of Holy Week come alive in a whole new way.
Bless you for all you are doing to be faithful to the Risen Christ.
Your Bridge CMs,
Don, Marilyn and Kent