Bishop Webb: March 31, 2020
April 2, 2020 / By Bishop Mark J. Webb / 1 Comment
The following email was sent from Bishop Webb on March 31, 2020 to clergy, certified lay ministers, and other congregational leaders in the Upper New York Conference.
Keep me safe, my God, for in you I take refuge. I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing” . . . Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely, I have a delightful inheritance. I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With God at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore, my heart is glad, and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. - Psalm 16.1-2; 5-11
I have found myself drawn to the reminders of God’s faithfulness and the promise of hope we have in our God. It is these truths that I have been praying be revealed in fresh ways within each of your lives.
I again want to thank you for the many ways in which you are living out your call and leadership in these days. I know there are challenges and with each new day added to this time of physical distancing those challenges change and increase, yet God is amid those challenges and your willingness to trust God and continue to say yes to God’s call is an inspiration. The continued stories of ways in which you and your congregations are “living the Gospel” are profound. I have been blessed by many of your online devotions, messages, and worship services.
I continue to believe that God will not waste these moments and the ministry of the Church will continue to be transformed while individuals who seek peace in the midst of anxiety, health in the midst of disease, hope in the midst of despair will come face to face with the good news of Jesus Christ.
I know there is great disappointment as we approach Holy Week and Easter and continue to follow the federal and state guidelines and not hold in-person worship, YET, the message and truth has not changed. God will continue to use your creative efforts to assist those who are already a part of the Church to experience again the good news that Jesus is alive and allow those who have yet to embrace the meaning of that truth to have their lives changed through an encounter with the living Christ!
Our communication team will be providing a 3-5-minute Easter video from me next week if you desire to use it in any way in your Easter worship. If there are others ways we can be helpful as you continue to offer worship on-line, please reach out to any of the conference communication or IT staff.
I also wanted to acknowledge one of the potential challenges that result from not gathering physically for worship – a decline in financial giving. The Conference staff is working on resources that will be available to assist you in the area of stewardship and giving during this time. Please watch for an announcement about this opportunity in the coming days. We want to partner with you to ensure that your commitments to your local ministry can be met.
We have received some calls regarding the ability of congregations to continue to care for the salary of pastor’s and staff during this time. If you and your congregational leaders find yourself having these conversations, please contact your District Superintendent immediately. We want to help you find ways to address this potential reality. You do not have to travel these challenges alone.
Please frequently check the resource page provided on the conference website at http://www.unyumc.org/about/uny-covid-19-response. If there are resources that you have found helpful that are not included, please share them with us.
Again, I encourage you to reach out to me or your District Superintendent with any specific need you have or specific ways in which we can join you in prayer during this time.
Please continue to care for your body, mind, and soul. Reach out to colleagues and friends and share this journey we are on. Trust God! Trust the gifts the Holy Spirit has given you and remember none of us can fix this, but each of us can shine the light of Christ into the reality of this time and be the very presence of Jesus in the midst of every need.
I am grateful for each of you! I am praying for you! Thank you for your faithful and courageous leadership.