On Sunday, March 22, Governor Mike DeWine issued a stay at home order for the residents of the state of Ohio effective at 11:59 p.m. on March 23, 2020, to remain in effect until 11:59 p.m. on April 6, 2020. The order in its entirety may be found here. I encourage you to read this document particularly as it relates to religious entities.
Dr. Amy Acton, Director of the Ohio Department of Health, said, “Life is not shutting us down, life is waking us up.” There is no doubt that many of us are waking up to new experiences in ministry. This is certainly true as I think of our pastors and their nimbleness as they led worship digitally, many of them online for the first-time. THANK YOU for your effort in bringing the Gospel to the people of God.
Here is my interpretation of the Governor’s Order as it applies to our work:
- The West Ohio Conference Center is closed to visitors but the work of the staff continues. The majority of the staff will be working remotely. You should expect responses by telephone and email. Messages left in the general voicemail will be forwarded to staff the same day. The district offices are following the same pattern. Please check the appropriate conference or district webpage for precise details.
- Our local churches are closed to large group gatherings until after Easter per my message of 3/20/20. As you are able, please continue your important ministry to the most vulnerable in your context. As you minister to the hungry, homeless and indigent, please follow the clear guidelines that keep you and others safe.
- If you are doing online services from your church building, please feel free to continue them with a maximum of 10 people involved and great care for the health and safety of all. There should be no gathering of more than 10 people in our churches at any time. In every instance please adhere to the healthy guidelines as prescribed by the Centers of Disease Control and Ohio Department of Health such as maintaining social distance of at least 6 feet, handwashing, use of hand sanitizer, etc. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/prevention.html
- You should expect updates from me on Tuesday and Thursday through the conference newsletter, NewsNet, the conference website, westohioumc.org, and our social media channels.
- We are in this together. Should you have any questions, please contact the Conference Center at (614) 844-6200 or your district office. Please expect and extend grace and practice kindness and humility as we navigate our way through these times.
Be assured of my continuing prayers for you and my support of your ministry. I serve you in the confidence that we are not alone. We have each other - connection. "Best of all God is with us."
Yours in Christ Jesus,
+Gregory V. Palmer
PS: Please join me for an online Prayer Meeting on Wednesday at 12:15 p.m. via Facebook.