Dear Ministry Partners in the RMC:
Southwest Conference minister, Rev. Bill Lyons, recently shared that the word “quarantine” comes from quaresima, the Italian word for Lent. The religious term was derived from the practice of ships being “quarantined” for 40 days in port before they were able to dock and unload people and supplies. It is indeed Lent, both spiritually and physically, as we adapt our social behaviors in an effort to stop the spread of COVID19.
At this time, the best way to love one another and to love our neighbors as ourselves is not to be physically present with people outside of our own living quarters. Employing the notion of self-quarantine as this year’s Lenten discipline is the best way to show our love for one another and for God.
Thus, and in giving credence to public health professionals, the Rocky Mountain Conference Board of Directors and I strongly recommend and respectfully request that each RMC congregation immediately enact the following:
1) All RMC congregations and communities suspend all in-person gatherings through at least Sunday, April 26, 2020. This recommendation includes all worship gatherings, small groups and rehearsals through the rest of Lent and Easter Sunday.
2) All church staff aged 60 and over, and any who have underlying medical conditions be offered ‘work from home’ opportunities immediately. They are at highest risk for severe to critical outcomes if they contract COVID-19.
3) All parish clergy stop making in-person pastoral visits, and instead, use virtual methods (phone, video chat, texting) for keeping in contact with church members and their families. In addition, we encourage your partnership and reliance on chaplains serving hospitals and other care facilities to coordinate in-person pastoral care in accordance with the policies and safety procedures laid out by their employing organizations.
Leading by example…
1) Our pastors and church leaders have already demonstrated their creativity, collaboration, and care by discovering new ways to be church for their members and in their communities while being with them is not possible. Electronic services populated the airwaves last week and will so again this Sunday. The Conference Staff is currently assembling listing of all RMC services being offered electronically and it will be post through Facebook and our website by Friday.
2) The RMC staff is working from home, and hosting all meetings and trainings through Zoom. The Conference office in Denver is closed to all groups until April 30, and that directive may be extended as the public health situation warrants.
3) For connection and support, RMC is currently hosting Zoom meetings twice a week to support clergy and lay leaders of the conference as we do ministry differently in these different times. We invite you to bring your wisdom to these conversations as we resource and spark creativity for one another at 11:00 a.m. Tuesday and Thursday mornings.
Zoom link: RMC UCC is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.
Topic: RMC Leader ConnectTime: Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11:00 AM MDT
Meeting ID: 503 182 3225
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1) Rocky Mountain Conference leaders are currently discussing plans for our Annual Celebration and will keep you updated. Any decision will reflect our recommendations to you regarding in-person gatherings beyond Sunday, April 26.
2) The National Youth Event has been postponed and families who have sent in deposits will be receiving their refunds within the next week.
3) RMC and LaForet leaders are in conversation about summer camps. Even if COVID-19 is no longer a threat, other factors may impact our ability to host camps.
This is Lent – quaresima – like we have never known. As we journey closer to Easter, the pandemic is in fact expanding day by day. We do not know what is ahead of us. Right now, loving one another means physically distancing ourselves. Loving our neighbors means buying only what we need, sharing what we have, and staying home. God’s love binds us one to another and may we be open to new ways of sharing that love. Peace and blessings to each one of us.