Dear friends, our uncompromising mission remains to “make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” With this holy calling comes the obligation to be disciples of Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul reminds us...
By this time, we had all hoped that the life would be re-opening to in-person worship and social interaction our churches and communities. Tragically the rise of the Delta variant of COVID-19 is threatening to swamp our hospitals and disrupt our common life together. If you’ve read or watched the news, been on social media or even overheard a conversation at the store in the past week, you are likely aware that the secular response to the surge in COVID cases in Texas (and across our nation) caused by the Delta variant has shifted from the medical to the extremely political. Legal actions between national, state, county and local government agencies make for battlefield headlines. Internet postings can consume us like a raging forest fire.
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:3-5)
A Radically Different Response Based in Patience and LoveI am calling on us as disciples of Jesus Christ to share a radically different witness to our society and culture. The modeling for our behavior is to come from Jesus and not our favorite political commentator (regardless of your own political persuasion). Jesus is Lord and this is a really good thing!! As His followers, let us respond to the conflagration in our midst and the debate over how best to respond with grace-filled compassion to and for all.
In the name of Christ, I ask you please do not let the rancorous political debate corrupt our congregations and faith communities. Remember the great commandment given by the Lord to love God with all our being and to love our neighbor as a we properly love ourselves. Our neighbor is every accessible human being we may reach and come in contact with (See Luke 10:25-37).
Remaining Open Safely and With Those At Risk In MindEven with the recent surge, I remain convinced that CTC churches should reopen in some capacity to in-person worship and ministries wherever possible while continuing online worship and teaching (think hybrid not either/or!). While doing so, it is critical that in-person worship should be done safely and with the best interest of those at risk firmly in mind.
- Those who are not vaccinated should be wearing masks.
- Extra care should be taken to protect unvaccinated children and youth.
- Maintaining appropriate social distancing is a simple and straightforward way we can love our neighbor as Christ commands us to.
- Continuing to have sanitizer and cleaning products readily available are still strongly encouraged.
The current CDC guidance states that even those who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 should return to wearing masks indoors in parts of the U.S. where the coronavirus is surging – which, according to the latest tracking information, now includes every Central Texas Conference county. Together, we as the Central Texas Conference Cabinet, ask congregations (lay and clergy leadership together!) to continue to be vigilant in monitoring the situation in their communities and continue to follow all guidance and mandates from local, county, state and federal officials as well as those of health organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). I’d also add that this guidance is NOT in conflict with Gov. Abbott’s Executive Orders nor those of any county official. Houses of worship have been exempted from these orders all along, plus the Orders only apply to governmental entities and/or officials, including a county, city, school district, and public health authority. Individuals and non-govt supported organizations are still free to require masking if they choose.
As in the past, I am mindful that the context and situation varies greatly from county to county and urban areas from rural setting. Together, exercise a holy judgment bathed in prayer and guided by Christ-like love. If, after evaluating the latest medical guidance from organizations like the CDC, the leadership of your church prayerfully decides to require masks or limit the number who may participate in-person or even go back to all online for a while, that decision is the local churches to make. I would ask that these decisions be made in consultation with your DS and that each church let your district office know if you’ve made changes to your worship schedule/policies just so we can be aware.
Click on the player below to view a brief video update on the CTC's response to COVID-19 and the Delta Variant, or visit the CTC's Vimeo page to download and share the video message.
For more on the CTC's continued response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, visit ctcumc.org/coronavirus-covid-19-updates.