As you are probably aware, many of our state, county and city officials have released their own set of guidelines for churches reopening their in-person worship services. They vary from area to area, but they provide us with some broad guidelines to consider in relaunching our public worships. However, no United Methodist Church in our California-Pacific Conference can re-open until our own set of guidelines are approved.
We have a strict set of guidelines that must be followed and as I mentioned earlier, here is the process:
- A detailed plan of opening in-person worship services must be created and approved by the annual conference.
- The church must approve these guidelines by the appointed pastor and Administrative Council.
- They must be submitted to your District Superintendent, or designated District Team, for final approval.
You will find the complete set of guidelines as a PDF via the button below. They have been created by a small team (Rev. Victor Cyrus-Franklin, Rev. Robb Fuesler, Rev. Erika Gara, Rev. Bob Rhodes, and Rev. Molly Vetter), vetted by the appointed Cabinet, Connectional Table leadership, and medical and legal teams of our California-Pacific Conference.
You will find all of these guidelines are in compliance with state, county and city officials. But, in order to ensure the safety of our laity, clergy and churches, we must follow them in every detail before re-launching your in-person worship service. Because the Book of Discipline designates your appointed pastor over all worship services, she or he must be comfortable with re-opening before it can happen. Your pastor has the right to override any decision to re-open if she or he determines it is just not safe. We also ask for those of you who having an appointment change to include your incoming pastor in this planning process. We have alerted our pastors who are taking on new appointments of this process and they are in agreement.
We still believe that none of our churches have closed – We have just continued worship and pastoral care in a new way. Re-opening your physical worship services is a risk no matter how many precautions are taken. With this in mind, each church is free to delay this re-opening until they determine it is truly safe.
Feel free to raise any specific questions with your District Superintendent, or myself.
Finally, I want to thank you for your patience and commitment to your own local church, district and annual conference leadership. Throughout this COVID-19 crisis, you have given your all to enable your church not only to survive, but thrive! I continue to pray for you daily, sometimes hourly, and will continue to do that for as long as possible. It is an honor to work side-by-side with you!
Continue to Be the Hope,
Resident Bishop Grant J. Hagiya
Los Angeles Episcopal Area
Additional: Re-Launch Phase Chart