FIFTH EPISCOPAL DISTRICT
MAY 2020
Bishop Teresa Jefferson-Snorton, Presiding Prelate
Now that Pandemic Restrictions Being Lifted….What are the Churches to Do?

It’s been two looong months since the shutdown of normal life began due to the Coronavirus Pandemic! Congratulations to those pastors and congregations who were able to migrate their worship services and other church gatherings to Facebook, Zoom, WebX, conference calls or other virtual means! I know it has been a challenge and our grief over being suspended from normal operations and fellowship is real!

As of Monday, May 11, 2020, the state of Alabama has lifted most restrictions on group gatherings, which would include worship services. Florida has lifted most restrictions as well, although some counties have tighter restrictions. So, what does that mean for the Fifth Episcopal District churches?

It is tempting to rush back into our sanctuaries, but let me remind you that the Coronavirus is still in our midst. And the COVID-19 disease it causes is still a real threat, as the virus continues to be passed. There is NO vaccine for this disease, there is NO cure for this disease, there is NOT even a confirmed treatment for it (only experimental treatment to lessen hospital stays). The death toll is high and will continue to grow unless we are vigilant and patient.

We are blessed that only a few of our CME brothers and sisters have been affected by COVID-19. We thank God for the recovery of those who were. We pray with those who are grieving the loss of loved ones, near and far.

So, what does this mean for the churches? When can we open?
My RECOMMENDATION is that we do not reopen any churches for worship before the first Sunday in June or later. Why? There is much that must be done to prepare the sanctuaries and congregation for worship in these dangerous times.

A checklist is attached here for what is REQUIRED for a CME Church in the Fifth District to reopen. Once the Presiding Elder has received the checklist, indicating that your church is taking ALL the necessary steps and precautions, that local church can resume in-person worship. Either the Presiding Elder or the Bishop will contact you if they still have concerns about your local church reopening.

You can also click here to get the full list of Alabama’s recommendations for churches.

Click here to get recommendations for choirs and singing.

PLEASE continue to be careful, stay safe and healthy! Our cautiousness is a statement of LOVE for our sisters and brothers (whom we don’t want to infect) and our FAITH in GOD who will see us through every trial.


ADVOCATING FOR EXPANDING COVID-19 TESTING

Last week Bishop Jefferson-Snorton spoke to Alabama Governor Kay Ivey about expanded testing for COVID-19, particularly for African Americans, incarcerated and homeless individuals, and rural communities as a part of the Clergy Leadership Team of Faith in Action Alabama.
 
Alabama Pastors, please sign your name supporting our work as outlined in the linked petition. Our goal is to secure signatures of at least 100 Alabama clergy by this Friday, May 15th.
 
 
Please sign this petition, even if you signed an earlier one. Thank you for your support of our efforts to protect our members.  


WHERE CAN I GET TESTED FOR CORONAVIRUS? 
(Click on the desired link below)

(click the tabs at the bottom of the document to change health districts)


SO WHAT ABOUT THE 2020 ANNUAL CONFERENCES?

In consultation with the Presiding Elders, we have decided to restructure the 2020 Annual Conferences in view of the ongoing pandemic and related gathering/travel restrictions.

Our revised format for 2020 will be as follows:

  • Friday from 4-6 pm - Zoom call with Cabinet and Joint Boards setting with Elders
  • Saturday from 10 am - 2 pm- Opening Communion, Business Session and Closing Ordination  (This will be done via Zoom, or in-person at a local church or some combination of the two formats depending on the situation)

The dates then would be these Friday-Saturdays:

  • July 17-18 - Birmingham/SE Alabama
  • July 24-25 - North Central Alabama
  • July 31- Aug 1 Florida Region 

The Presiding Elders are determining which local churches we might use IF small gatherings are permitted but the idea is not to have to use hotels. If small gatherings are not safe, we will only convene via Zoom. We will wait until early June to make final decisions about the format based on what is happening with the virus. 

Once we have finalized the real or virtual locations, Rev. Longstreet will post the registration form. We will do pre-registration as usual, but only during the month of June, and those who register will then get the link to the meeting.

Pastors, Ministers on trial and delegates are expected to register and be present as permitted, unless excused.

Ministers on trial should be on the lookout for instructions from their Committee on Ministerial Examination. APT Classes that need to be completed will be offered via ZOOM in late June and early July for those who need to complete them from this year or begin them for next year. Information will be coming to you from the Bishop’s office in a few weeks.

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CONGRATULATIONS GRADUATES!!!!

Rev. Larry Jermaine Woods, Master of Divinity (MDiv) degree, Phillips School of Theology at the Interdenominational Theological Center.

Rev. Jeremy Williams (Ph.D. candidate) has earned a Master of Arts degree in New Testament and Early Christianity, Harvard University.

Rev. Dr. Rodney Dillard, Doctor of Ministry (DMin) degree, South University College of Theology.

Rev. Dr. Lawrence Jefferson-Snorton, Doctor of Ministry (DMin) degree, Payne Theological Seminary.

Rev. Dr. Ericka Dunbar, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in Biblical Studies (OT/Hebrews), Drew University.

VIRTUAL GRADUATION FOR HIGH SCHOOL SENIORS

Our CME high school graduates were going to be recognized in June at the Connectional Youth and Young Adult Conference (CYYAC). Since the conference has been rescheduled for June 2021, the Department of Christian Education and Formation will host a virtual graduation on Saturday, June 27 th . Click here to see flyer with details on how to sign up!


PASTORAL CONCERNS

Bereavement

  • Rev. James Q. Smith, Presiding Elder, MPCO District, lost his mother.
  • Rev. Virgie McNair, pastor, Prosperity CME Church, Orrville, lost a cousin in Detroit to COVID-19.
  • Mrs. Lawanda Yearwood, first lady, St. John CME, Gadsden, lost her father.

Illness, Hospitalizations, Surgeries and other health challenges

  • Rev. John Ward, pastor, St. James, Midway, AL (currently in UAB Hospital)
  • Rev. William Treadwell, pastor, New Purchase CME, Beatrice, AL
  • Rev. Marvin Lue, pastor, Stewart Memorial CME Church, Mobile, AL
  • Rev. Winfred McCoy, pastor, St. Luke CME, Oakbowery, AL
  • Rev. William Gary, pastor, Poplar Springs CME, Reform, AL  
  • Rev. Izea Blanks, pastor, Grant’s Chapel, Cuba, AL
  • Pray for the mother of Mrs. Cheryl Luther (first lady, Pace Temple CME Church) who lives in Ohio. 
Fifth Episcopal District, The CME Church
Mailing Address: PO Box 13383, Birmingham, AL 35202
Office Address: 2615 12th Ave, N., Birmingham, AL 35234

mail: cmec35203@yahoo.com phone: 205-202-6504
www.cmefifthdistrict.org www.thecmechurch.org

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