Lutheran bishop captures anxiety of time
Northwest Intermountain Lutheran bishop captures anxiety of time
Bishop Kristen Kuempel - Bishop of Northwest Intermountain Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) reported March 17 that the Synod Executive Committee cancelled regional gatherings for April 25 in Pullman, May 2 in Twin Falls and May 16 in Moses Lake.
"With the constantly changing guidelines and extended timelines for this pandemic, there are no plans to reschedule these events," she said, noting there is a synod staff travel ban in line with CDC recommendations.
An eight-week ban on worship and other gatherings includes Holy Week and Easter.
Synod Staff are working from their homes and "with the wonders of technology, people can continue to call the synod office during normal business hours and talk to a real person at 509-838-9871," she said.
"We hear concern about financial needs in this pandemic, recognizing that some people cannot use or are uncomfortable with electronic giving," said Kristen, reminding that is it vital for financial support of congregations to continue so staff can continue to work.
"It feels as if leadership is building the plane while we're flying it, and just when we think we have it figured out someone comes and tells us that it was supposed to be a boat," she observed.
The Synod office is working on a best practices document.
For members who are not fluent with technology, congregational leaders will communicate regularly with letters and newsletters.
"As we weather this COVID-19 pandemic, I am consistently surprised at the spirit, the compassion and the care I hear expressed for one another," Kristen said, noting that is the case even though "we are frazzled, fragile and forlorn."
"As difficult as this time is, I think we will learn about what it means to be church in this age," she said. "If it is anything like I see every day, all will be well, different, but well.
"Many congregations oversee ministries to the marginalized—clothing closets, food pantries, feeding programs," she said, urging that those ministries continue if they can be done so volunteers and those served are protected.
"I encourage an over-abundance of caution over disregard of safety in every situation. This response is about the safety and well-being of our neighbors," she said.
On March 20, Kristen posted information for congregations that host recovery groups in their buildings and are conflicted about closing buildings adding to stresses of individuals breaking their sobriety.
She suggested churches check with their insurance companies, but added that many recovery programs are offering meetings by phone to allow for "compassionate distancing and self quarantine."
For information, call 838-9871 or visit nwimsynod.org.
Copyright@ The Fig Tree,April, 2020