SOUTHEASTERN PENNSYLVANIA SYNOD | ELCA
Resources for effective church leaders
+ May 18, 2020
Pastoral Message From Bishop Eaton
Stewardship Tip: Looking Toward What’s Next

What’s on the horizon for congregations and parishes as we transition from the crisis of the moment to the long-term implications of the coronavirus pandemic? The pandemic has fast-forwarded us into our future at warp speed. Normal has changed forever. With the advent of the digital church, not all of our congregation is physically present. We are learning that telling the dispersed congregation stories of how offerings are used will generate instant gifts with a “donate now” button used during the time of the offering. 

In May’s monthly tip , Stewardship Team leader the Rev. Larry Smoose offers some thoughts and questions we all need to ponder.



Voting Changes for June 2 Primary

Philadelphia will have 77% fewer polling places for the primary due to a lack of poll volunteers and willing sites for in-person voting, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer . The state legislature passed an emergency law in March allowing counties to cut the number of polling places by up to 60% without state or court approval. Delaware County will have 40% fewer locations, and Montgomery County 60% fewer. Chester County has not yet determined the number of locations. Bucks plans to have all of its polls open.


Today, 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 .



Support Increase in the State Food Purchase Program Allocation

From LAMPa: Now, more than ever, the Pennsylvania State Food Purchase Program (SFPP), which supplies much of the food in our food banks and community and congregational food pantries, needs an increase in funding. During COVID-19 shutdowns, the State Food Purchase Program allowed Pennsylvania food banks to continue to partner with Pennsylvania small business distributors to keep a steady supply of dry and shelf-stable foods in the charitable supply chain.
 
Currently, at $18.188 million, we know it is not sufficient funding to support the increased demand we have experienced over the last 10 weeks and we know it won't be enough to cover our needs for the near future.



Becoming the Body of Christ Where All Bodies are Valued

Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton will join Bishop Kevin Strickland of the Southeastern Synod for a webinar “Becoming the body of Christ where all bodies are valued: A conversation around the ELCA’s resolution to condemn White Supremacy” on Thursday, May 21, at 7 pm.



Lutheran World Relief Seeking 75,000 More Masks

When Lutheran World Relief launched the 75,000 Face Mask Challenge less than a month ago, they knew the compassionate response would be overwhelming – and that good people like you would meet the challenge. They just had no idea you’d pull it off so quickly. Thank you!
As COVID-19 continues to make its way around the world, the poorest communities stand to bear the heaviest burdens. Cloth masks are a first barrier of defense, and the need is only increasing. To reach even more people in dire need, Lutheran World Relief is collecting 75,000 more masks! How many will you make to help stop the spread?

A Thriving Church: ELCA Assembly Video
Check out the annual ELCA Synod Assembly video, which we would have seen had the May Assembly not been cancelled by the pandemic:
How is Your Congregation Thriving in This Uncertain Time?

Share your story! Send us your news, photographs, videos, and links. Email Bob Fisher at rfisher@sepa.org .
Apply for Health Department Contact Tracing Jobs

The Philadelphia Department of Public Health  has begun hiring staff in order to be ready to implement widespread contact tracing as the COVID-19 pandemic response evolves.

Contact tracing is the process of identifying people who may have come into contact with an infected person ("contacts") and the collection of further information about these contacts. By tracing and testing the contacts of infected individuals, the City aims to reduce infections. Many of these positions do not require specialized skills. People interested in seeing all of the positions can visit the contractor’s website below!

Portico Webinar for First Call Ministers

As people of faith, we steward our gifts wisely so we’re better able to enhance the lives of others — doing God’s work in Christ’s name for the sake of the world. Join with us on Tuesday, May 19th, beginning at 10:00 a.m. until noon for a time to connect with Portico Regional Representatives, Barb Debski and Cathy Schibler, and learn how the ELCA’s comprehensive benefit solutions help strengthen members’ financial, emotional, and physical well-being. Discussion will include:
 
1.          Health coverage options and how to manage out of pocket expenses.
2.          What is the full bundle of benefits provided by sponsoring organizations and congregations
3.          How Portico resources help you plan for retirement and practice financial wellness
4.          How members can strengthen mental well-being in all dimensions of the Wholeness Wheel, the ELCA’s wellness symbol and discernment tool.
 
Time: May 19, 2020 10:00 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
 
Join Zoom Meeting
 
Meeting ID: 896 5279 5958
Password: 604488
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.
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 https://ministrylink.org/give
Thank you
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The Rev. Bob Fisher, assistant to the bishop for mission interpretation/communications
rfisher@sepa.org  / 267.323.3743