Note to the synod: As we wait a little longer
Much like in the story of Noah in the 8th chapter of Genesis where he watched and waited and sent out birds to see if the time was right to open the doors to the ark and resettle the earth, we, too find ourselves watching and waiting for the right time to re-open the doors of our church buildings for in person worship. Governor Mike DeWine shared his plan on Monday to begin re-opening the economy of Ohio, for many business sectors the time has come to bring back employees and welcome customers, but for congregations, the dove has returned. It is not yet time for us to come together physically as the Church.
While I, like you, am disappointed that the people of God in Southern Ohio will not be gathering in person to worship, sing hymns and be together in the next few weeks, there is still work to be done.
We must continue to:
- Share the Gospel through the Word and hymns online, on the phone, in email, in letters and, at a safe distance, in person.
- Take care of each other and those in need in our communities.
- Support your congregation through prayers and offerings.
- Stay hopeful.
Dr. Jim Young Kim, one of the founders of Partners in Health, an international health organization working with several of our states on how to effectively end the pandemic, recently wrote, ‘Hope is of little use unless it is accompanied by a bold and vigorous plan.’
Our next steps as the synod and as congregations, is to plan. We don’t know exactly when we will be together in person, but when it is time we will be ready. Below are several resources you, your council and other experts in your congregations--especially those in the healthcare industry--can read, discuss and use as a basis for your re-opening plan. Although the three flyers from the Ohio Department of Health are specifically for business sectors that are scheduled to re-open in the first part of May, the flyers contain requirements and best practices we can adopt so that when we do open our doors, our members and guests will feel safe and want to be a part of our worship services and other activities. The other resource looks at 24 things every congregation should consider and address before re-opening. When it is time for us to come back together, I will send another ‘Note’ to you and set up another webinar.
Additionally, I ask you to talk with one another, with the church down the street and with our Ecumenical partners, to compare ideas, solutions, obstacles and resources. We are stronger and better together, especially now.
As a synod staff, we have been planning, connecting with many of you and giving thanks for the work you continue to do despite having no time to prepare for this time apart.
We thank you for your faithfulness, for your caring, for your prayers and for your continued mission support, again, despite these unprecedented times.
Finally, I have some good news to share. The Synod Office has found a new home and signed a lease. If all goes well, we will be in our new office space in August. Our new home is located at 9200 Worthington Road in Westerville, near Polaris. Please continue to send mail to our 300 S. 2nd Street address until you hear otherwise. I, and the staff, continue to work remotely. We will also continue to connect with you, councils and committees by way of video and phone calls, email and letter. Please reach out to us. We are here for you.
Bishop Suzanne Darcy Dillahunt