Resources for effective church leaders
+ May 13, 2020
Considerations for Returning to In-Person Worship
In anticipation of the eventual easing of stay-at-home restrictions, the ELCA has issued guidance for returning to in-person worship. As ELCA congregations face difficult decisions regarding when and how they will be able to gather again for worship, this resource offers general guidance.

Please note that this not a comprehensive, one-size-fits-all resource; it will need to be interpreted and adapted for your local context . In many, if not most contexts, it will not be safe or advisable to gather for in-person worship for some time. National, state, and local medical and legal guidelines will need to be consulted and followed. While risk is not avoidable, this guidance is presented with the aim of reducing the level of risk for your community.
Register to Vote, Request Mail Ballots for June 2 Primary
Next Monday, May 18 is the deadline to register to vote in the June 2 Pennsylvania primary election. May 26 is the last date for registered voters to apply for a mail-in ballot .

Communications 'Office Hours' With Bob Fisher

This week in our communications share session (Thursday, May 14 at 11 am) we will talk about ways that the tools and techniques we've learned during the stay-at-home period will help our churches navigate into a "new normal". Bring your ideas and questions to our Zoom meeting.

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: Combat Racism
May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month . As a result of misinformation about the source of the coronavirus – U.S. leaders have called it the “Chinese flu” and “Kung flu” – there is a documented rise in anti-Asian sentiment across the country. The Asian Pacific Policy & Planning Council (A3PCON) reports through its  Stop AAPI Hate initiative that it’s received more than 1,500 reports of “verbal harassment, shunning, and physical assaults” against Asians since launching on March 19, 2020. This disturbing trend impacts ELCA Lutherans who are Chinese, Hmong, Indian/South Asian, Indonesian, Laotian, Japanese, Korean, Filipino, and Thai, as well as people of Asian descent who worship in white congregations.

The Synod has joined religious, professional, and community organizations in signing a Community Statement Regarding Anti-Asian Racism Associated with Coronavirus . The statement “urge(s) the media, elected officials and community leaders to help stop the spread of bigotry and scapegoating.”

‘Standing with, not targeting people’  On the ELCA Advocacy blog , the Rev. Amy E. Reumann, ELCA Director of Advocacy, writes that such discrimination is a “manifestation of the viral racism that infects our body politic and, as put in an opening question by theologian Howard Thurman to his classic book,  Jesus and the Disinherited ’Why is it that Christianity seems impotent to deal radically, and therefore effectively, with the issues of discrimination and injustice on the basis of race, religion and national origin?’”

‘We are not the virus’  In a blog for Women of the ELCA the Rev. Gigie Sijera-Grant, president of the Association of Asians and Pacific Islanders-ELCA, describes harassment directed at the community and offers resources to educate yourself about this discrimination.
Help Churches Challenged in This Crisis

You can help SEPA churches struggling in this difficult time by giving to our new COVID-19 Relief Fund.

And thanks to generous donors, there is still an opportunity to have your dollars doubled for the first $3,000 donated.

Make a difference at
Grief and COVID-19

Last week, Philadelphia's Mayor's Office for Public Engagement hosted "A Time to Grieve: A Conversation about Living Through and Beyond the Losses of COVID-19." Nearly 300 people joined this well received discussion with faith, civic, and healthcare leaders about the complicated grief our city is experiencing as we face the COVID-19 pandemic. If you missed it, watch the recording here.

There’s more to talk about! Join "Shades of Blue: Making Room to Unravel During COVD-19" on Wednesday, May 20, at 11am. We’ll focus on tangible nourishment practices that will help us work with and through our individual and collective “shades of blue”. If you’d like to register now, go here. We’ll send you the Zoom link to participate the day before the webinar.
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The Rev. Bob Fisher, assistant to the bishop for mission interpretation/communications  / 267.323.3743