VOLUME VI NUMBER 11
March 18, 2020
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Presbytery Pledge
Ministry Without Public Worship in the Season of COVID-19: Notes in Transition

Dear friends, 

By now you have probably seen the latest recommendation from the Centers from Disease Control that gatherings of fifty or more people cease for eight weeks:


Many of your churches did forego gathering in person yesterday, and some offered online worship you made available to others too.

Even before this latest word from CDC, I had planned to be in touch to say that, with a recommendation that churches not gather yesterday and next Sunday, we would be evaluating next week to update our recommendation. Consider this your update.
I know that some churches did hold worship as usual, some because you knew your attendance would be less than the threshold. That number has been halved . I would recommend that all churches, even our smaller congregations, comply with the advice from CDC.

Some have offered worship with the word that those who feel they are at risk or are uncomfortable might absent themselves. In my view this is not sufficient as the ongoing risk is that those who are healthy may contract the virus and transmit it to those who are at greater risk without being aware of it, certainly not intending to do so. In this case social distancing is the loving thing to do.

We all feel deep concern at the thought of suspending worship for weeks on end, especially with Easter in view. I feel concern for congregations whose members already feel themselves to be on shaky ground. I feel concern about the financial impact as congregations are not gathering, not giving opportunity to contribute through the offering plate (make online giving available if you are not already doing so). I feel concern about how any financial difficulty experienced by our congregations will affect our presbytery too.

In our difficulty lies opportunity too, opportunity for spiritual growth, growth in ministry and mission too. Our moderator, Paul Sink, pastor of our Taylorsville church, shared on Facebook a request to members of his church: he has recommended that low risk members team up with those who are at high risk, grocery shopping or taking care of whatever needs will keep the latter from having to leave their houses. Identify opportunities to be of support to one another. Share ideas with colleagues in presbytery.

Perhaps the loss of worship together will be a blow to the church, but perhaps members will gain new appreciation for the value of what it means for us to gather as the body of Christ, to experience the presence of Christ among us by the power of the Holy Spirit.
As I worshiped recently, with the congregation I sang "Amazing Grace." Ever since Judy Collins's recording was released in 1970, Presbyterian churches have sung it often, enough for it to become hackneyed (to me). As we sang, I felt the impact of every word in a way I don't remember experiencing before. Realizing what is precious gives renewed meaning to faith and life.

Please continue to share your online worship opportunities. I will update the list I have been keeping and try to make it available in a timely fashion.

Here are some links to articles relevant to church leadership today:




Ideally, you want to be ahead of the government on this one to protect the people you lead, not the last.  The "Well, the Governor/President?Prime Minister said we could gather under 250 so we're allowing 250 at a time," isn't likely the wisest route, particularly when things are literally changing hourly.  You want to be on the right side of history on this one, protecting rather than risking, helping rather than hanging on.
 
Friends, none of us has experienced what it's like to be in ministry under these circumstances. When I was examined on the floor of Suwannee Presbytery in 1979, one of the ministers who questioned me had been ordained in 1917; he would have known what it was like. An epidemic with this risk has not happened in more than one hundred years.
 
Let's pray for one another, take care of those in our congregations, one another too. Please pray for me and all who are engaged in the ministry of our presbytery as we take stock and look ahead, seeking to be faithful. We don't often use the King James Version anymore, but I prefer its translation of Deuteronomy 33:27:  " The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms."
 
God keep you all and those we serve.

Grace and peace!

Steve

Steve Scott
Transitional General Presbyter
The Board of Pensions Is Ready to help in Time of Need

Corona Virus Testing to be covered.

News about COVID-19, the new coronavirus, is everywhere. This is a rapidly evolving situation, so it's important to be prepared for questions from employees about how you are preparing for a potential outbreak and how their medical benefits through the Board of Pensions can support them.

We are continuing to monitor the situation and will provide any additional information as it becomes available.

What the Board is doing:

Effective immediately, all three medical plan options (PPO, EPO, and HDHP) will cover 100 percent of the cost for coronavirus testing - with no deductible, copay, or copayment - when done by a network provider.

In addition, for those enrolled in the PPO or EPO options, all copays when using  Teladoc * will be waived through June 30, 2020. For employees enrolled in the HDHP, the cost for a Teladoc visit is $45. The plan pays 80 percent of the cost after the annual deductible is met. Funds in the employee's health savings account can be used to help pay for these expenses.

If employees have concerns about medication stockpiling, OptumRx is closely monitoring drug supplies and does not expect any delays in filling prescriptions
through mail order or through OptumRx Specialty Pharmacy.

In addition, employees with medical coverage can also contact the  Employee Assistance Program (EAP) * 24/7 for emotional support by calling 866-640-2772 or logging into Cigna's  website . Anyone who lives in the employee's household can also use this free, confidential service.

Actions employers can take:

In addition to  everyday preventive measures , all workplaces should have plans that focus on preparation for an outbreak in their community. Here are things you can do as an employer to help protect the health of your employees and those you serve.

Use materials developed by credible sources, such as your local state and public health departments or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to promote everyday preventive actions. 

Have supplies, including soap, hand sanitizer, tissues, and waste baskets, on hand for your employees, volunteers, and those you serve.

Be prepared for employee absences by identifying critical job functions and positions, and plan for alternative coverage by cross-training employees if needed.

Identify services that might be limited or suspended during an outbreak and find alternatives that will ensure continuity for your community, especially for vulnerable populations you serve.

Establish relationships with community partners and stakeholders, such as the local health department, other community and faith leaders, local businesses, and educational institutions, and collaborate with them on broader efforts.

Postponed CREDO and Board seminars

Out of an abundance of caution, the Board of Pensions has suspended upcoming CREDO conferences through April 15. CREDO faculty and participants have been notified and will receive information as the conferences are rescheduled. All other group seminars through April 15 have been canceled as well. The Board will continue to monitor the situation, evaluate the status of future gatherings after April 1, and continue to provide updates.

We continue to pray for good health and for healing for those who have been impacted.
The Creating a Culture of Generosity workshop will hold its initial meeting in September rather than the May 2nd date originally announced. Please follow the link below to register.

Provided by Church Campaign Services (CCS), this 18-month training process will improve the level, generosity, and financial stewardship among Salem Presbytery congregations and their members. Salem Presbytery's Church Growth and Transformation Committee will subsidize this training so that congregations can participate with a financial commitment of only $500 over two years!! Information and registration for this exciting training process is available at the link below.

Stewardship Needs of Congregations and Salem Presbytery . . .

. . . continue during this season of COVID-19. Even as public worship takes a pause for the sake of all (" The sabbath was made for human beings, and not human beings for the sabbath" [Mark 2:27]), the ministry of the church of Jesus Christ continues, seeking new forms, reordering priorities, as ministers and other church staff members continue to think and plan for the needs of a congregation, and as all of us reach out especially to those who are most vulnerable, most at risk. In one service I saw online Sunday, everything proceeded as normal, even with no congregation, and at the time of the offering, people learned how they could give online. 

Many of our churches have been taking advantage of online services, and many already encourage members to send checks via online banking. We'd love to share your experiences of which platforms and service are most convenient and least costly to use. Please send information to me or to our Stewardship Committee, whose moderators are Kim Priddy and Kyle Goodman. 

-- Steve Scott
1001 New Worshiping Communities . . .

. . . will host a webinar on this Thursday, March 19th on how to use the Zoom platform to stream worship services. Click the link below for the article in PCUSA News.

Your Help is Needed! Support Rev. Jeff Smith's D.Min Mini-Project

Dear friends,

I am doing a mini-project as a part of my D. Min. course focused on "non-traditional" ministry.   "Non-Traditional" ministry is defined as any ministry that seeks to reach people where they are within our communities.  "Non-Traditional" ministry is an alternative to the "traditional" programs that the church provides for its members and is meant to be an extension of the church, not seeking to create a new or alternative church.  Your responses will help  provide clarification on how we understand sharing the good news of Jesus Christ in Salem Presbytery.  All responses will remain confidential and if you choose to share your name for any follow up conversation, it will not be shared within the research project or with anyone else.  The survey will take less than 10 minutes to complete.  Thank you for your help! Click the link below to access the survey.

Gratefully,

Rev. Jeff Smith
First Presbyterian Boone

Click Here to Access Survey
Peace and Justice Task Force Event (Postponed)

The Peace and Justice Task Force is presenting an event on Monday, April 6, 2020 entitled Bonhoeffer, Barmen, Belhar, and Resistance. The keynote speaker and leader will be Dr. Jennifer McBride, President Bonhoeffer Society - English Language Section, and Associate Dean, McCormick Seminary. The event will be held at Sedgefield Presbyterian Church, 4216 Wayne Road, in Greensboro. 

For the complete flyer and information, click on the link below. Email Frank Dew (link below) for more information.

Adjusting To a Smaller Staff

As Salem Presbytery makes do with a smaller staff (two full-time staff members at present; two part-time), please remember to allow sufficient lead time for support of your committee's work, to obtain needed keys or supplies, or for other needs. Those who remain are eager to be of support but may not be available on short notice.
Help Us Keep Salem's Online Directory Updated

We have been encouraging members of Salem Presbytery, volunteers, and members of our congregations to take advantage of this handy resource, to which you have access through the Salem Presbytery website. As our staff grows smaller, and as fewer are available to answer the phone, you will find this directory easier to use (password = clemmons3950) than calling the presbytery to get phone numbers and email addresses of committee members or others you want to be in touch with. If using a list you received an email that bounces back, check the directory. Please check your own entry to make sure we have accurate information, especially in a time when we have to rely more and more on the telephone and digital communication and have less face-to-face contact. 
Session Minutes Reviews - To Clerks of Session

After much consideration of the current public health crisis, I have decided to suspend the review of Session minutes prior to May 12. We will review Session minutes following the May 12 Presbytery meeting at Boone. If your minutes are not reviewed then, Clerks may bring 2019 and 2020 minutes to the traditional winter/spring gatherings in 2021. (You may feel free to slip this announcement in with your unreviewed minutes if you are inclined to do so.) I am deeply appreciative to the hosts of the previously-scheduled gatherings; we'll probably call on them in 2021!  

David Vaughan, Stated Clerk 
Post-Easter Respite at William Black Lodge - 
April 13-15, 2020

All church professionals (ministers, christian educators, church musicians, etc.) serving a PC(USA) congregation are invited to find rest and renewal after Easter at William Black Lodge in Montreat. Visit  the William Black Lodge website (link below)  or call 828-669-6314 for more information about this 2-night respite. Cost:  $150 for 2 nights and 5 meals.

First Presbyterian - Burlington's Women's Retreat 
March 28, 2020

Click the link below for information and registration for the Women's Retreat at the First Presbyterian Church in Burlington.

Olive Picking in Palestine

Click below for information about a fall trip to Palestine for olive picking and other interesting adventures. The trip will be led by Dr. Ron Shive (First Presbyterian, Burlington), and is sponsored by the Israel-Palestine Mission Network of the PCUSA.

Funeral Worship for Rev. Bill Sosebee

The Funeral services for Rev. Bill Sosebee (HR and Pastor Emeritus of the former Second Presbyterian Church of Lexington) have been postponed by his family - until the public health crisis is passed.
Click HERE for the 
2020 Prayer Calendar
March Prayers for:

Committee on Representation
CPM - Preparation for Ministry
Baird_s Creek - Vilas
El Bethel - Eden
Bixby - Advance
Tom Nesbit - Chaplain - Medi Home Hospice
Mission Leaders In Salem Presbytery

Salem Presbytery is compiling a list of "Mission Leaders" in each of our congregations. We seek contact information for mission committee chairs, mission coordinators (staff or volunteer), or those excited about the mission of the church. Click the link below to add your info. 
 
Add Your Information Here
Become a Peace and Justice Church!

Become and Peace and Justice church! Let your Salem Presbytery Peace and Justice Task Force help, inspire, equip, and send you on a journey. Contact Frank Dew at the link below.
 
Email Frank Dew
2020 Prayer Calendar

Click the link below for the 2019 Prayer Calendar for Congregations and Ministries of Salem Presbytery.

Other Special Events

Are you hosting a special event *(concert, speaker, training, etc.) at a time OTHER than on Sunday morning worship? Submit your event through the link below to be included on our SPECIAL EVENTS Calendar.

Meeting Calendar Available

Don't forget to use our Calendar of Meetings for planning your 2020 monthly agenda. 

Hunger Action

Become a Hunger Action Congregation! Check the links below for more info.
Church Anniversaries

If your congregation is celebrating a significant anniversary (25, 50, 75, 100, etc.), please let the presbytery office know.
Board of Pensions

Click below for Board Bulletin - Spring 2020

Board Bulletin
Board of Pensions Call to Health

Click the link below to join the Board of Pensions Call to Health.

Board of Pensions Call to Health
PCUSA News and Announcements

Click below for the latest news and announcements from the PCUSA.

PCUSA News
Salem Presbytery | PO Box 1753, 3950 Clemmons Rd., Clemmons NC 27012
336.766.3393 | Email | Website
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