We are in about the sixth week of social isolation now, and there are a number of observations to make about this time. The global pandemic has taken its toll on all of us, and even with “safer at home” protocols, we have probably been more pressed than ever. It is a conundrum: we have more time at home, but it seems that time is elusive, fleeting, eaten up by an unknown force, like the Corona virus itself. Part of our time problem is that the anxiety that we are feeling is making it harder to focus, and with that comes distractions that eat up more and more time. Uncertainty breeds anxiety, and with that comes looking for mindless ways to cope, as in streaming services at all time high enrollment. Having trouble concentrating and wondering where your time goes? There may be good reasons for it!
One of the anxieties of our clergy, laity and churches right now is the financial downturn that has put millions out of work. This alone is enough to make our stress levels spike to all- time highs. In fact, this is one of the main concerns we hear from many of you during this period of social isolation. How is our church going to pay its bills and what about our apportionment giving when we are unable to physically meet? We completely understand these concerns, and ironically, some churches who have been forced to go to online giving have increased their pledges and commitments! However, others have not been as fortunate.
As far as apportionments go, do as best you can. But, we understand if you cannot pay them right now, and perhaps you can make it up later when the protocols are removed. The one thing that your church cannot avoid paying is your appointed pastor’s salary. By our Book of Discipline, this is the one thing each church must be responsible for. Our California-Pacific Conference is doing everything we can to help and, already, our Board of Pensions will be paying the next three months of your pastor’s pension. If your church absolutely cannot pay your pastor’s monthly salary, please contact your District Superintendent immediately. Our Conference Council on Finance and Administration (CFA) has set aside some emergency funds for this very purpose and they are developing the criteria for these loans. But, be sure to contact your District Superintendent as soon as you can.
For inspiration this week, we look no further than the late Mr. Rogers – Fred Rogers – on how to find good during scary times:
“When I was a boy and would see scary things on the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers — so many caring people in this world.”
May we all be one of those “helpers” during this challenging time!
Be the Hope!
Bishop Grant J. Hagiya
Los Angeles Area Resident Bishop