To the South Georgia Conference:
As Methodists, we strive to align ourselves with John Wesley’s Three General Rules: Do No Harm, Do Good, Attend upon the ordinances of God.
I believe that doing no harm and loving God also means loving others well and being socially responsible. During this time, loving others well means caring for them and their safety. To this end, the Cabinet and I have reflected upon Gov. Kemp’s most recent statement and offer the following guidelines in order to provide clarity for the churches of the South Georgia Conference.
First, let us remember that the governor’s shelter-in-place order is in effect until April 30 and the state of emergency order is in place until May 13. Therefore, we ask all local churches to continue suspending in-person services until May 13. At that time we will release further guidelines based on up-to-date data from health officials and the governor.
Second, the governor’s most recent statement makes reference to the limited way in which in-person church services are allowed under the president’s phase one guidelines. This includes strict social distancing protocols including refraining from gatherings larger than 10 people and maintaining at least six feet of separation between each person. This is a good reason to continue the suspension of in-person services until further information is provided. In addition, Governor Kemp is encouraging all “at-risk” persons to continue to shelter in place until May 13. We know that our older members tend to be our most involved and supportive, and we do not want to put them at further risk.
Third, let’s use these next three weeks to read and address the questions posed in the blog post entitled, “24 Questions Your Church Should Answer Before People Return.” Please take each of these questions seriously. Discuss them with your pastor, lay leader, PPR Chair, Church Council chair, Trustees chair, and other leaders who need to be part of the conversation.
Finally, the Cabinet and conference staff are working on additional resources, templates, and checklists to help prepare you to safely resume in-person worship once it becomes possible. This information will be available next week on the conference website.
Thank you for the exemplary ways in which you are being adaptive, imaginative, and innovative. I have no doubt that as you think about what your post-quarantine gathering will look like these attributes will continue to shine. This pandemic has revealed in a fresh way the commitment you have to Jesus Christ and to your church and community. Thank you.
We continue to pray for those who are fighting this virus; those searching for a cure; nurses, doctors and other health-care workers treating those who are ill, and those who have lost loved ones to this illness. I look forward to the day when we can worship together in-person as a community of believers.
Alive Together in Christ,
R. Lawson Bryan