Bishop Webb: April 29, 2020
April 29, 2020 / By Bishop Mark J. Webb / 2 Comments
The following email was sent from Bishop Webb on April 14, 2020 to clergy, certified lay ministers, and other congregational leaders in the Upper New York Conference.
We pray for our world; those stricken by the Coronavirus; those grieving the loss of loved ones; the lonely and those separated from friends and family; the medical personnel and caretakers in many places; those who risk their own health to serve in places of essential business for our sake and comfort. We pray for these and many more needs, known and unknown. Lord in Your mercy, hear our prayers!
I continue to give thanks to God for each of you and the tremendous leadership you are providing in these extraordinary days. As we continue to live within the realities and dynamics of a global pandemic, your witness of trust in God and faithfulness to your call is an inspiration. Thank you for all that you are doing. Thank you for your willingness to be bold, creative and open to the ways in which the Spirit of God is leading in your lives, your congregation and the community you serve among and with.
It is been a blessing to join when I have been invited and able in various district, cluster and other ZOOM gatherings. It has been a joy to see your faces, share in conversation and hear the stories of celebration, as well as struggle. God is at work and I am convinced that the ministry of the Church will emerge stronger as a result of this time. Your leadership will emerge stronger because of these days.
I know this has been a difficult and exhausting season. In some ways, everything that we previously knew has been tested, yet everything we need has been a part of our prior experiences. Continue to trust your call, the gifts of the Holy Spirit within you and most of all the sufficiency of Christ.
I hope that you are finding ways to rest, renew and care for your physical, emotional and spiritual needs. Please let your district superintendent know if you are struggling in any way, so that we may come alongside and offer the support and encouragement you need. Your district superintendent will be contacting the chair of your Staff Parish Relations Team to encourage them to continue to offer the support you need. If you find you need a break during this time, do not hesitate to have that conversation with your SPRC. Your district superintendent is ready and willing to assist in those conversations. As I shared with you before, be kind to yourself and help your colleagues to do the same.
As our state, counties and other municipalities begin to develop and release steps to “re-open” we will do our best to provide guidance and resources. Currently, we are developing principles for re-opening that will be shared at the appropriate time to serve as a guide for you and your local congregation. For now, as the stay at home order for New York continues through May 15th, we are urging you to not hold in-person worship and continue online worship through Sunday, May 17th. As guidance from governmental and medical authorities is updated, we will update our suggestions and guidance as well.
The work all of you have done in providing on-line worship experiences has been inspiring and used by God to touch the hearts, minds and spirits of many during these days. It has come with sacrifice, hard work and long hours. Members of the Cabinet, as well as other conference staff will be preparing an on-line worship service that you can use if you choose on a Sunday morning, allowing yourselves and your team a well-earned break. This worship experience will be available to use beginning Sunday, May 10th and any Sunday after that you choose. Our communications team will be sharing the necessary information next week to access this resource if you choose to use it.
I also want to invite you to join me and one another in a time of reflection and prayer on Wednesday, May 13 at 9:30 a.m. You will receive log-in information for this gathering through your email or you will be able to find it on the conference website at www.unyumc.org. I will be inviting laity (and clergy) who desire to join in a time of reflection and prayer on Wednesday, May 13th at 7:00 p.m. Please feel free to share this opportunity with the members of your congregation.
Again, I want you to hear me say thank you for who you are and how you are offering your lives for the mission and ministry of Jesus Christ! These are days of great frustration at times, yet days of great potential all the time. We know the One who offers the hope, peace and assurance people are yearning for. Continue to boldly offer Jesus in all that you do and say. Continue to pray for God to have God’s way in us and the world around us. May this be a time of spiritual awakening among the Church and within the world! I’m praying for you always!
I close with these prayers of blessing for each of you:
“I pray that from God’s glorious, unlimited resources God will empower you with inner strength through His Spirit. Then Christ will make His home in your hearts as you trust in Him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high and how deep His love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. (Ephesians 3.16-20)
“May the Lord of peace give you peace at all times and in every way.”
(2 Thessalonians 3:16)
With love and gratitude,