Resources for effective church leaders
+ April 16, 2020
Some Good Ministry News
In the midst of the coronavirus crisis, SEPA congregations are stepping up to continue or create ministries to serve their neighbors. Here are a couple of these stories.

What is your congregation doing to serve in this time? Send your information, stories and/or photos to Bob Fisher and we will publish them next week.
Emmaus Road’s Manna Community Food Pantry

To help neighbors in need, Emmaus Road Lutheran Church in Levittown started an outdoor, good-will food pantry, with members of the community contributing canned goods. It is human contact-free and available to everyone. The church asks people to give what they can and take what they need.  More info: Pastor Lisa Jester
Grieving Through COVID-19: A Professional Grief Counselor Shares Her Insights and How to Find Support

Through times of loss, it is human connection that brings us comfort and hope. Amidst these unprecedented times of COVID-19, humans around the world are attempting to cope with a unique kind of loss. For many, this comes in the form of losing their sense of normalcy and everyday routine, a type of grieving that for most of us is unchartered territory. For individuals who have lost someone they love, or fear that loss happening while in quarantine, there is an additional kind of grief that makes these uncertain times especially challenging.

Sylvia Havlish, a professional grief counselor for more than 40 years, knows first-hand how difficult life has been for those grieving through the unique circumstances of COVID-19. On a normal day, Sylvia hosts grief groups in partnership with Lutheran Congregational Services (LCS) for bereaved individuals. Those groups are now on hold due to coronavirus restrictions, and for those of us experiencing loss and fear, Sylvia offers advice for navigating the “roller coaster” of grief.
Keeping Our Communities Safe with Compassion and Positivity

As the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to impact our world, the compassion and care extended through Lutheran ministries, services, programs, and communities remains vital to our mission to answer God’s call to walk with other’s during their life journey. In light of everything surrounding COVID-19, Liberty Lutheran  has highlighted the day of a dedicated staff member within one of their affiliates.

Robyn Fine is the director of community life at The Manor at York Town . You can learn more about how Liberty Lutheran is responding to current events while looking after the overall health and wellbeing The Manor’s residents.
7 Ways to Keep Donations Flowing During the
COVID-19 Crisis

Stewardship expert Rob Blezard, one of our workshop leaders at our Stewardship Extravaganza in January, outlines steps your church can take to address the financial challenges created by the COVID-19 crisis. Key strategies include staying in communication with donors, including an offering time in online worship, and considering the CARES relief program.

Shape Priorities as Congress Debates Further Stimulus

From Lutheran Advocacy Ministry in PA: In the last several days, leaders in Congress have been debating which federal resources and international policies our communities still need to adequately address the impacts of COVID-19, and how to strengthen the economy. Two things are clear: more work is needed, and our advocacy is making a difference. several critical issues under discussion that intersect with ELCA advocacy priorities . Please consider your experiences, faith reflections and the issues that are most important for your congregation and community, and highlight them in a customized message to Congress through the ELCA Action Center .
Join the 75,000 Face Mask Challenge!

COVID-19 is threatening vulnerable communities, and Lutheran World Relief urgently needs cloth face masks to send to them. The cloth mask you sew in your living room will provide love and protection to a neighbor in need halfway around the world. How many will you make to help stop the spread? Sign up for more info.

Portico Benefits Respond to COVID-19 Crisis

New updates to ELCA-Primary health benefits provide additional support for rostered ministers and church employees as they seek health care or receive testing and treatment for COVID-19.

  • Enhanced coverage for COVID-19 testing and treatment means ELCA-Primary health benefits will pay 100% of the costs for FDA-approved COVID-19 testing and the related provider visit needed to order or administer the test, including an office visit, urgent care visit, or emergency room visit. All deductible and coinsurance costs for covered COVID-19-related treatment received through May 31, 2020 will be waived.
  • For non-emergency primary care available 24/7, use the new text-based app, 98point6®, at no cost per visit. Not registered yet? Register at
  • Doctor on Demand telephone and virtual visits are available at no out-of-pocket cost to you through June 14, 2020.
  • Visit myPortico’s new timely resources page for access to frequently updated resources on COVID-19.
  • Deacon Tammy Devine offers ideas on how to pause and listen to what God might be inviting us to attend to during this time. Find them here.

Bishop Eaton Issues Earth Day Message

“Globally, we are dealing with two interconnected crises, the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing climate change. Both demonstrate the profound consequences of our disrupted, broken relationship with the natural world,” ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton writes in an Earth Day message to the church. “According to scientists, species disruption caused by global warming has combined with human encroachment on the natural world to drive wildlife into greater and deadlier contact with people. The COVID-19 outbreak is an urgent warning that our behavior opens the door to transmission of new diseases, with devastating consequences.
“Our distorted relationship with the earth is borne most heavily by the most vulnerable and marginalized among us, who are ill-equipped to withstand the impact of climate change or implement remedies. COVID-19 and the climate crisis heighten existing racial inequity, economic disparity and social injustices. Our call to care for creation is also a call to right these wrongs.”  

Montgomery County Commissioners Call With Religious Leaders

In response to the rapidly evolving coronavirus situation, the Montgomery County Commissioners will be hosting an informational Webex on Friday, April 17 th  at 12:30 PM  for faith-based organizations and houses of worship in Montgomery County. 
You can join via computer or phone, information is below: 
Phone 1-408-418-9388 Access code: 790 966 143

Learning Opportunities

Online Security Webinar, April 21

Do you receive emails asking you to send money or trying to trick you into giving up sensitive information? Do you know what to do if your data or the congregation’s data has been breached? Do you want to learn how best to protect yourself and the church from online threats?

Please join us on Tuesday, April 21, from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. Central Time for a free webinar for ELCA congregations and synods. Chris Hueneke, information security advisor for the ELCA churchwide organization, will host the webinar, covering these topics and more. You'll learn how to avoid phishing email attacks, protect sensitive data and prevent malware infections, and what to do if your data has been breached.

This event requires no registration. On the morning of April 21, simply go to  this link  and click on the field marked "Join the event." You'll be connected immediately. If you have any questions, please contact .

Stewardship In Times Of Uncertainty

Friday, April 17, from 1-4 p.m. a free online class at LSTC will address, “Stewardship in Times of Uncertainty and Creating a Culture of Abundance.” The focus on the first section of the class been adjusted to address the effects of the pandemic on church budgets and operations. 
This webinar will be led by Mike Ward, a certified fundraising executive and vice president of advancement for the southeast ELCA camps. You can sign up through Zoom:  h ttps://  (Meeting ID: 536 621 166, Password: 065519)


Upcoming Webinar: Work Loss in a Pandemic

Join Center for Publix Justice for a webinar on what CARES Act changes to unemployment insurance could mean for faith-based employers and workers in the sacred sector Friday, April 17 at 2 pm. The U.S. unemployment rate is surging, and faith-based organizations and their workers are feeling the effects. The webinar will include a deep dive on:
  • How the sacred sector is affected by loss of work
  • How the CARES Act changed the unemployment insurance system
  • How states are adapting (or not adapting) to pandemic unemployment conditions 
  • What CARES Act unemployment changes mean for individuals and faith-based organizations

ELCA Leadership Coaching!

Every Wednesday at 1:00 pm Central Time, the ELCA Coaching Network gathers together on Zoom to offer support and accompaniment to any rostered minister. 

The ELCA has a network of trained coaches who accompany leaders in a variety of ministry areas including stewardship. During this unprecedented time, coaching is offered at no cost. For more information, contact . The Wednesday 1:00 pm Zoom connection can be found at .

Army Chaplains Answer the Sacred Call

Serve your Country part-time while serving your congregation full-time. As a chaplain and officer in the U.S. Army, you will care for the spiritual well-being of Soldiers and their families. Whether in training or operations, Army chaplains represent hundreds of American denominations and faith traditions and fulfill a sacred calling of service captured in our motto, “Pro Deo et Patria” (for God and country). Join more than 6,000 Chaplain Corps personnel and have a ministry that serves others in something bigger than you ever imagined.
Requirements: Under age 47, master’s theology degree, ecclesiastical endorsement, meet Army height/weight standards.
COVID-19 Resources
New Cares Act FAQ from Churchwide

We have new resources available addressing Paycheck Protection Program loans for churches. An FAQ document and a video to explain the process are available at


  • Resources for Worship in the Home are posted weekly at
  • Worship in Times of Public Health Concerns English | Spanish
  • Prayers for Times of Public Health Concern: COVID-19/Coronavirus English | Spanish
  • How to stream your worship service — A starter guide English | Spanish
  • Intercessory Prayers in the midst of the spread of COVID-19 from the Lutheran World Federation English | Spanish
  • Guidance for funeral practices during a health crisis Download


This is list is designed for children, youth, parents and all ages to download free resources you might use at home. Ministry leaders might want to directly share these links through emails, social media or text messages. 

Faith Finder Fun :   Mon-Sat Videos: Backyard Monday, Treasure Tuesday, Creative Wednesday, Magic Thursday, Science Friday and Random Sat.
Illustrated Ministry:   Free Devotionals and Coloring Pages
Morning Watch:   Daily videos with scripture/song/prayer - one for everyone, one specifically for kids and families. (From 2 ELCA pastors in NC)




During the COVID-19 pandemic, the ELCA churchwide organization is here to support our members, congregations, synods and partners. Call 800-638-3522 and press #4 or email  for prayer, support and to ask your questions.
Bishop Davenport's Easter Message
"There Will Be Joy"
A Video Message From Bishop Eaton
We Pray...
...For the church  

  • For Bishop Kevin Strickland and the Southeastern Synod as they respond to devastating and fatal tornadoes across their territory.
  • For our congregations as they navigate this uncertain time, especially those who are financially fragile. 
  • For Presiding Bishop Eaton, Bishop Davenport, and all of our bishops, and for our Deans, assistants to the bishop and administrative staff as they lead the church in this uncertain time.  
  • For our rostered ministers who are working hard to transition church services and programs to the digital realm, that they might find rest and refreshment. 
  • For the food ministries across our synod who serve growing numbers of food insecure people, that they might find the funds, volunteers and food supplies to meet their needs. 
  • For our ministries among the marginalized, especially Welcome Church and The Well and Feast of Justice, as they serve the people entrusted to them. 
...For those who mourn  

  • For the family of Rev. Violet C. Little on the death of her mother.
  • For those who; have died of COVID-19, including Barbara and Beverly.
  • For the family and friends of Pastor Cindy Ray, who has died. 
  • For the family of Pastor Charles Leonard on the death of his brother 
  • For the family of Rev. Dr. John Vannorsdall (LTSP president 1986-1990) who died of complications of COVID-19. His wife, Patricia, is currently hospitalized with the same diagnosis 
  • For the family of Pastor Kay Braun on the death of her father, Mike Bender, who died April 3. 
  • The family of  the Rev. Charles H. Eiss, Jr who died on March 1. 
...For those in need of healing  

  • Pastor Arlene Greenwald
  • The cousin of Pastor Bob Fisher, who has COVID-19
  • For all who are infected with COVID-19 
  • For the brother of Pastor Violet Little, who is infected with COVID-19 
  • For colleagues in the Lutheran World Federation who have contracted the virus or are exposed. 
...For those who are at risk of COVID-19  

  • For all healthcare workers who are facing this growing crisis with no end in sight. 
  • For all those called to be hospital chaplains, doing their best to walk with patients, families and medical staff in spiritually trying times 
  • For all the college students quarantined on their campuses, including Kendall 
  • For the staffs of our Lutheran retirement and nursing communities, and for the volunteers making cloth masks for their work. 
  • For our doctors, nurses, respiratory and pulmonary specialists, as well as the maintenance workers who keep hospitals sanitized and functioning, that the love of God surrounds them as the place themselves in danger. 
  • For essential workers - firefighters, police, EMTs, grocery clerks and stockers, workers in the financial sector -- who are in harm's way. 
  • For the families of healthcare and public safety workers who assume greater risk of contracting the virus. 
  • For our police and all who are victimized by the spike in violent crime in Philadelphia 
...For all affected by this pandemic, physically, mentally, or economically
  • For our children, of all ages, isolated from their lifeblood of time with friends. And for parents and guardians, school guidance counselors and therapists who recognize and help them deal with their fears and anxieties. 
  • For those who are unemployed and underemployed 
  • People who live alone or are hospitalized away from family. 
  • For those who grieve and who are not able to gather with family to mourn their loss 
  • For those experiencing anxiety, depression, and/or risk of suicide during this crisis. 
  • For the college students who remain on campus away from their families, while taking digital courses. 
  • For the high school students, particularly seniors, missing graduation and end-of-year activities. 
...For the whole world  

  • For those who are unjustly imprisoned, especially refugees, that they may soon know God's mercy and care in the joy of freedom.  
  • For our national and local leaders, our president, our governors and their administrations, and public health workers as they race to contain this virus outbreak. 
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayers!  
Send your prayer concerns and thanksgivings to 
Thank you
for taking the time to read this edition of MinistryLink.  Tell fellow church members and colleagues to subscribe by clicking here.

The Rev. Bob Fisher, assistant to the bishop for mission interpretation/communications  / 267.323.3743