Beloved and faithful synod congregations, rostered ministers, members, and affiliates,
First, a word of gratitude and admiration. You have all been more patient, creative, and faithful than we could have imagined through these drawn out pandemic fears, griefs, and restrictions. As promised, God is indeed about to do a new thing in, with, and through us. Even so, it’s not yet clear when that will be and what that will look like.
When our Synod Council met in March and recommended no gatherings of more than 10 in congregations through May 12, we so hoped that there would be no restrictions past that date. Though talk and reality of “re-opening” abounds all around us, we have carefully studied Governor Cooper’s recommendations of a 3-phase reopening of North Carolina based entirely on the recommendations of the White House Coronavirus Task Force and the CDC for the “3Ts”: Testing, Tracing, and Trends.
The governor has extended NC’s stay-at-home orders through May 8 at the earliest. IF the trajectories of the 3Ts are encouraging, Phase 1 of his re-opening plan could begin May 8 at 5 p.m. and last for at least 2-3 weeks. During Phase 1, there would still be no public gatherings of more than 10 people allowed. If, during Phase 1, the 3Ts go well, we might enter Phase 2, which would last a minimum of 4-6 weeks. Houses of worship would be allowed, with reduced capacity (number not yet named), to re-gather. That means our congregations might begin carefully transitioning into some kind of in-person worship then. Finally, if the 3Ts continue positive trends through June, Phase 3 would further loosen restrictions on numbers in gatherings, including houses of worship.
In accordance with these guidelines, and in great concern for not only our NC Synod but for all people while this virus is still present and dangerous, our Synod Council met this morning and approved the following three recommendations for the NC Synod:
- Synod Council extends the no-gatherings in person of more than 10 in NC Synod congregations guideline and expectation through at least May 31.
- Synod Council will appoint a Task Force to produce a document/process to flesh out what in-person re-gathering in congregations and worship might look like.
- Synod Council adopted a guideline for calling and conducting congregational business meetings in a time of pandemic. This guide is both constitutionally faithful and acknowledges “pandemic grace.” If you need to have a congregational business meeting soon, consult with Michael DeNise in our office and/or our COVID-19 response webpage.
God in Christ hold, bless, protect, and keep you,