Important! New pulpit supply process and lists

(A hard copy of this letter is being sent to all congregations.)

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Grace to you in these challenging days. These weeks away from our sister and brother worshippers have been difficult. We all yearn for the days of gathering together as God’s people. As congregations begin resuming corporate worship, it is important to talk about pulpit supply.

COVID-19 presents a real and significant threat to the health and well-being of all God’s people. While people following the orders of the Governor and the Director of the Ohio Department of Health have flattened the curve, gathering together still poses substantial health risks. This reality is necessitating changes in the supply process.

Several weeks ago, I asked everyone on the pulpit supply list to complete a survey having to do with supply preaching. Their responses have been helpful in determining how we go about providing this leadership. After discussion with Bishop Dillahunt and consultation with Sister Sally, I am presenting our new pulpit supply process to you.


Two Lists

Indeed, these times call for trust in God. Some of the ways God provides protection is by raising up experts, first responders, and various means by which we can act to safeguard ourselves and others, such as by making wise use of technology, washing hands, wearing masks, and being appropriately physically distanced or staying home. The main concern of this plan is to get congregations and supply preachers to talk with one another as quickly as possible. During this time especially, there is a real need for detailed conversations at the beginning of the process. We are grateful for the ministry of Sister Sally for all her years of putting preachers and congregations together. We are making a change at this time, in order to facilitate the needs of the process in the COVID climate and because it is unfair to put Sister Sally in the middle of these complicated conversations. As is already the case in most synods, our supply preachers will be listed in our website. Congregations will be asked to contact them directly so that congregations and worship leaders may engage in these important conversations about congregational plans to safeguard their members’ and worship leaders’ health. However, unlike most synods, we will have two lists—those able and willing to provide supply using technology and those who are willing to supply in person.

Remote Worship Leadership: The spread of the coronavirus has caused a burst of creativity in using technology to provide a worship life while we were/are not gathering. Even as congregations begin gathering again, there will be people who are unable or unwilling to return until there is a greater level of safety, effective treatment, or a vaccine. It is our hope that technology will continue to be used to provide a worshipful experience for those who are not physically present. Those who supply via technology will need to talk with congregations about the specific technology desired and then to work out all the necessary details. There are no strict rules here. For example, if a congregation

offers virtual communion—and a potential preacher is authorized to preside at the table—but the preacher is not comfortable with the virtual practice, they may decline the request. The congregation may then decide not to have communion on the Sunday being discussed so as to secure the preacher for the date or move on to another potential preacher.

In-Person Worship Leadership: For congregations that are gathering together, the Bishop’s concern is for the safety of worshippers and leaders. The Bishop has asked that each congregation prepare a plan that explains the measures that the congregation will undertake in order to be as safe as possible in their context. Congregations that wish to use in-person pulpit supply must be able to provide their gathering plan to potential worship leaders. Those whom you contact may refuse to accept your invitation if they feel that the safeguards of your plan insufficient for them to lead worship in your congregation. My hope is that they tell you so. This can be helpful information for you to have. Should a worship leader arrive at your congregation having agreed to your plan but find that you are not following your plan, they have the freedom not to lead worship. Similarly, you should feel free to ask a potential preacher about his or her personal COVID safety practices in general. If, for example, they say that they do not wear masks or observe physical distancing as a regular practice, then you may decide that this is not someone you would like to come to your congregation at this time. It all depends on your standards.

Who is on Each List

These lists are built based on the responses to the survey. Please, contact only the people on the lists. Only people who volunteered are on the Remote Leadership List. People have been removed from the In-Person Leadership List if: a) they requested removal, b) they are uncomfortable providing in-person worship leadership at this time, or c) they did not respond to the survey. If a supply person wishes to be added or removed from the list, they should complete the Supply Preacher Update Form. The lists are posted in the Congregations section under Pulpit Supply.

Information on the Website

The contact information posted for each person on the list is limited to name and email address. Please make initial contact via email. If you are requesting in-person leadership, please include a copy of the congregation’s plan in the email and invite follow-up phone conversation. Additional information is provided on the list itself, such as city of residence and distance willing to travel to help you determine who might be an appropriate person to invite.

What You Need to Do

I will update the list regularly so please check it for updates.

Supply Rates
  • One Service: $175 (If the sermon is recorded and reused for multiple services, the honorarium is still $175)
  • $25.00 for leading worship each additional time that same weekend.
  • Round-trip mileage should be paid at the IRS standard mileage rate for employee reimbursements (see irs.gov for the current rate).
  • As a courtesy to in-person supply preachers, it is appreciated to have a check ready to give them on the Sunday they provide leadership.

I have covered a great deal of information here. Please feel free to contact me with questions. If you have questions in the future about pulpit supply, please direct those questions to me as well.

Health and peace,

The Rev. Dr. C. Lynn Nakamura
Director of Candidacy and Leadership Development

e: lnakamura@southernohiosynod.org

p: 614.464.3532 Option 7