As we prepare to light the Christ candle in a few days and remember the birth of Jesus, as light of the world, there are two important notices that require your attention: Boy Scouts of America and COVID Protocols for Worship.
I am deeply grateful for your vigilance and prayers during the time that our Ad Hoc committee has been negotiating with the Boy Scouts of America. Your engagement and prompt return of your ballots aided in having our voices heard.
There has been a change to the settlement offered by the Boy Scouts of America; this is good news AND we need your prompt attention to change your vote to ACCEPT the new plan by December 28, 2021 at 1 pm (Pacific time).
- It is suggested that all churches vote to ACCEPT (I.E., VOTE IN FAVOR OF) the plan.
- This is a change from the earlier suggestion.
- Votes that are changed will override the previous vote.
- All votes are due by Tuesday, December 28, 2021 at 1:00 pm PST.
- Electronic ballots are the preferred option.
- Paper ballots must be mailed overnight with proof of mailing by Friday, December 24, 2021to ensure on-time delivery.
A new Charge Conference is NOT needed, as the resolution voted in by each church gave permission to the Trustees to change the vote if a settlement was reached.
Electronic ballots are the most efficient option. If you had difficulties accessing your specific unique E-ballot ID#, you can connect directly with Omni by emailing them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We celebrate the UMC and the Boy Scouts of America have reached a settlement. In that settlement they achieved their five goals:
- Healing and support of the survivors – our agreements include opportunities for survivors to share their experience with a UM trained leader and our communicating with the Church the importance of preventing youth sexual abuse and working toward strengthening our ministry in this area. The UMC is the only organization outside of the BSA that made this a cornerstone of our release. This has been acknowledged by the survivors as important commitment and gratitude for our making this commitment.
- Full releases for all of our congregations that chartered BSA Troops for abuse involving scouting activities.
- Releases for all charter organizations. Our efforts assisted with all chartered organizations who were not represented during the bankruptcy to receive a release.
- Preservation of a congregation’s insurance for non BSA claims.
- A fair and just financial settlement.
If you have ANY questions regarding this ballot, how to fill it out, when it is due, or how to get electronic access, please reach out to your District Office. Calls and emails ARE being monitored through Christmas Eve to ensure all churches receive the support needed to submit their revised vote.
The second pressing matter is the omicron variant and how it impacts our ability and options for worship.
This year may have been more difficult than last year with all of the changes and responses required to consider whether and how to offer worship opportunities that allow the faithful to gather through multiple means. Even following the best practices is not guaranteed to go without incident. We are aware of clergy colleagues and church leaders who have tested positive. All fully vaccinated and still, COVID found its way into their system and through stringent protocols.
The reality of the virus is with us and we must not let up and we must not let our guards down as we gather for in-person services throughout this weekend and going forward. We are still strongly encouraged to follow these protocols:
- Everyone is to be masked, regardless of vaccination status.
- All choir members and instrumentalists need to be masked. Even if you are using soloists, it is strongly recommended they be masked, even if distanced.
- If woodwinds or brass are involved and masks cannot be worn while playing, maintain additional physical distance between and in front of the musicians.
- If using congregational candles, electric/battery operated ones are advised. If using real candles, plan how the candles will be safely extinguished without taking off masks to blow them out.
- If serving refreshments, have them outside or is having fellowship time indoors, have refreshments packaged for people to take home so they do not need to remove their masks to eat or drink.
- If passing the peace and extending greetings in included in worship or as function before or after, strongly encourage that to be done at a distance while wearing a mask.
The news of about the Boy Scouts of America settlement is no more exciting than the reminders about COVID in our midst, but both come at a time when we look to the light of Christ to come as brightly as ever into our lives. Our hope is that you will receive this information as support for all you are doing to manage safety and obverse safety for those God sends our way. May we receive each one with compassion and care this Christmas and into the new year.
Blessings and thank you – wishing you all Faith, Hope, Joy and Peace!
Be the Hope,
Bishop Grant J. Hagiya
Los Angeles Area Resident Bishop
Additional: BSA Settlement Press Release (UMCom) >>