Important Update from the Presbytery Regarding Covid-19

Friday, March 13, 2020

Friends and Colleagues,

On Wednesday, the Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area emailed you an extensive list of possible actions and responses to the quickly growing risks from COVID-19, or coronavirus. With daily changes in news about and response to the coronavirus, today, your officers and executive presbyter are providing you with updates and new insights.

These ideas and responses are being put together not only withattention to the news, but also with deep attunement to the movement of the Holy Spirit. We know that God is with us - and with all people - in this uncertain time.

It is clear that the way we can spread the light of the Gospel at this moment is by caring for both our individual health and our congregational and community’s health in every possible way. And besides thorough handwashing, the absolutely best-proven tool to care for the health of all will be to spend less time in groups and gatherings right now, and for at least the next few weeks. While avoiding in-person gatherings is important, it also challenges us to find other tools and ways to demonstrate care and support with and for one another.

To that end, we include in this email some opportunities and forthcoming resources (listed in purple), as well as some announcements:

The Scheduled Presbytery Meeting on March 21

After prayerful consideration, the officers have determined that we will not hold an in-person Presbytery meeting on March 21. Yet our caution and care should not limit our creativity, so we will meet via video and phone conference, focusing on worship and the kind of brainstorming and communal support we so urgently need in this time. The business of the stated meeting will be addressed at our May Gathering (Tuesday, May 12, beginning at 4:00pm). Look for more details early next week on how we will creatively and faithfully come together in a ‘virtual’ format during the same time as the scheduled Presbytery meeting (albeit in a shorter time frame).

Your Congregation’s Worship Services

Thursday afternoon, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services began discouraging gatherings of 250 people or more. The Minnesota Department of Health has not yet made a public recommendation on large or small gatherings.

We continue to encourage each session to follow the worship advice and precautions in Wednesday’s email, to stay informed with the best information available, and to make decisions consistent with and faithful to your membership and context.The Presbytery is committed to providing continuing information to you as well.

The Presbytery has been invited to meet with the Minnesota Department of Health early next week. Meanwhile, we will also begin to collect a list of the names and websites of its churches who livestream or record their Sunday morning services, so that, if your church does not or cannot, those who choose not to attend worship can still worship with their siblings in Christ.

We will also explore options for offering short tutorials on “free-range” (virtual/web-based) worship and devotions on various platforms, including phone conferences, You Tube/Facebook Live, or Zoom. More information forthcoming.

Zoom Calls for Support and Crowdsourcing

Your officers are inviting our pastors and clerk of session or other designated leaders to participate in some Zoom conference calls hosted by stated clerk Barbara Lutter and executive presbyter Jeff Japinga, as we support each other and crowdsource together best practices during these times.

The first, on Managing Coronavirus Concerns in Congregations, has two times:

• Monday, March 16 from 10am – 11am

• Tuesday, March 17, from 10am – 11am

The agenda for the call will be for Pastors/Clerks of Session to confer with peers on how you are addressing Covid-19 concerns in your congregation. The list will include (but is not limited to):

1. General Worship Best Practices

2. Alternate Forms of Worship / Ways to Conduct Virtual Worship

3. Congregational Food Events

4. Planning for member care in case of church closure

5. Stewardship/Financial Planning

6. Staff/Employment Issues

7. Re-Entry Celebration Planning

Instructions for accessing the zoom call are at the end of this email.

In order to address questions or particular concerns you hope to have addressed on the call please fill out this 3-minute survey at this link: We will focus on the most popular items, and take other questions or concerns that arise as well.

We encourage as many congregations as possible to send a representative to the call. We will also record these calls so that if you are unable to attend, we will send out an email on Monday afternoon and Tuesday afternoon next week with a link to the recordings. Some of the content may repeat across both calls, but we hope that hearing the conversation might give you food for thought.

The second set of calls, on Caring for Our Neighbors During a Time of Crisis, also has two times:

Monday, March 23, from 10am – 11am.

• Tuesday, March 24, from 10am – 11am

The agenda for this call will be for Pastors/Clerks of Sessionand/or Deacons and other Mission/Social Justice teams to confer with peers on how we might faithfully and mindfully respond to vulnerable populations in our communities in this time of stress and high need.

We will send further information or add more calls as needed.

Please don’t hesitate to be in touch with any of us if we may be of assistance. What other issues can we be helping you think about in these anxious times?

Fear can cast an awfully long shadow, one we see all around us today. But we know another way. And there is no more important time to live out that alternate way than now. We have an extraordinary opportunity to act - not in fear, but with the hope and peace God offers.

We are in this together, and journey forward with God’s help. Let us know how we can support you.

Your officers and staff,​

Anna Kendig, moderator​​

Jean Emmons, vice-moderator

Barbara Lutter, stated clerk​​

Rocky Rockenstein, Presbytery Leadership Team chair

Steve Robertson, treasurer​​

Jeffrey Japinga, executive presbyter

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ZOOM Instructions

Topic: Coronavirus Concerns in Congregations

Time: Mar 16, 2020 10:00 AM Central Time (US and Canada)

On your computer or phone (video):

On your phone (audio only): dial 646-558-8656

​Meeting ID: 884 853 121#

- - - - -

Topic: Coronavirus Concerns in Congregations

Time: Mar 17, 2020 10:00 AM Central Time (US and Canada)

On your computer or phone (video):

On your phone (audio only): dial 646-558-8656

Meeting ID: 531 730 994#

- - - - - -

Topic: Coronavirus Response to our Neighbors

Time: Mar 23, 2020 10:00 AM Central Time (US and Canada)

On your computer or phone (video):

On your phone (audio only): dial 646-558-8656

Meeting ID: 179 155 525

- - - - - - - -

Topic: Coronavirus Response to our Neighbors

Time: Mar 24, 2020 10:00 AM Central Time (US and Canada)

On your computer or phone (video):

On your phone (audio only): dial 646-558-8656

Meeting ID: 553 465 718