Shenandoah District Connection
Guidelines and Best Practices Edition
May 29, 2020
We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love be with us, Lord,
    even as we put our hope in you (Psalm 33:20-22, NIV).
From the Desk of District Executive Minister John Jantzi
Find attached a Best Practices document with an accompanying pastoral letter from the District Executive Minister. Numerous pastors and individuals requested the District create a concise summation of best practices for use as congregations grapple with questions regarding opening for worship.

As a follow-up to those requests, a committee of five was formed to create a summation of best practices, drawing from existing guidelines and from the knowledge base of those serving on the committee. Serving on the committee are:
Dr. Emily Shonk Edwards

Dr. Greg Byrd
George Bowers
Phil Stone
John Jantzi
Family physician in Nelson County and camp doctor for Brethren Woods
Family physician in Woodstock, Virginia
Pastor, Antioch Church of the Brethren
District legal counsel
District Executive Minister
This group spent several days drafting and redrafting the document. After completion of this phase, five other district pastors and leaders reviewed the proposed best practices and added comments and edits.

On Wednesday, the document was sent to the District Leadership Team for review and action. The District Leadership Team completed the review and approval of the Best Practices document on Wednesday evening, May 27.

We send this document for your use with a mixture of humility and urgency. Humility with the realization that COVID-19 is extraordinarily complex in both its medical and economic impact. Urgency in that we have a deep and passionate desire for District congregations to be thoughtfully deliberative and use the very best practices as we consider if, when and how to open.

Congregations are approaching the opening with different timetables. For some, plans have been made and are being implemented for opening the sanctuary for worship. Other congregations are waiting until mid-June and beyond before proceeding with opening.

I have noted a common theme. All congregations, of which I am aware, are and will maintain several venues for worship. Congregations are considering opening the sanctuary on a limited basis, maintaining a significant online presence and, in some cases, maintaining parking lot services. This means some congregations will have as many as four or five options for worship. Sanctuary worship is and will be only one of several multiple choices.

In addition, there is a spirit of creativity and entrepreneurship that has emerged. Some congregations are planning to hold initial services outside with best practices in place. One congregation is considering holding initial meetings in small groups in a variety of locations.

I have engaged many of you in conversation and have received a few of your plans for opening. I am impressed with the thoughtfulness with which this question is being engaged. I implore you to continue to be thoughtful, prayerful, and deliberative. In that spirit, I ask that you consider implementing the best practices submitted for your use. My prayers continue for your well-being and witness in the neighborhoods in which God has called you to serve.

As we continue to grapple with questions regarding opening of congregations, I also ask you to continue to reflect on the question contained in the last number of issues of the Daily Connection. That question is the Pentecost question, “what does this mean.” In our understandable desire to return to normal, we run the risk of short-circuiting the movement of the Spirit that may be asking us to consider other ways of being together.

I believe we are in the midst of seismic cultural and economic shifts that will significantly impact how we are the church in the future. We cannot and do not yet know the shape of things to come.

Current circumstances call us to develop a maturity and spirituality that lives with ambiguity and uncertainty. We may well serve a God that does not wish for us to return to normal. During the variety of processes and preparations, are we able to stand still and listen? And then move in whatever new and/or old ways God may direct?

John Jantzi
District Executive Minister
Sources:
New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by  Biblica, Inc.®  

Today's photo courtesy of Brenda Sanford Diehl
If you have questions about the Daily Connection, contact:
Director of Communications
Shenandoah District Church of the Brethren
P.O. Box 67
Weyers Cave, Va. 24486
(540) 234-8555
www.shencob.org
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