A letter from Bishop Scott J. Jones
Date Posted: 8/26/2021
My heart continues to be heavy as I hear the stories of how the Delta variant of Covid-19 is sweeping across Texas at alarming rates, even personally affecting many of you and your churches.
As your bishop and brother in Christ, please know that I am praying diligently for you.
I want to commend you for your leadership in adapting so precipitously – as the pandemic continues to be a constantly fluid and ever-changing situation. I hear stories regularly of the new and innovative technologies you are utilizing for worship, the care ministries you have established, and how you are responding faithfully to difficult questions every day. Well done, good and faithful servants!
What can you do as pastors?
First, continue to keep your spirits up by keeping your Sabbath and taking time to feed your soul. These are the most stressful times we have ever experienced in ministry. Rest. I would like to hear from you on how this is going -- burnout is real during this season of ministry.
Second, continue to educate your congregation about the facts on Covid-19 from your local authorities and hospitals and the importance of caring for your neighbors. This includes hand hygiene, social distancing, and respiratory etiquette. As I have said time and time again, this means wearing a mask in worship. It is not my place to mandate masking for local churches, but even vaccinated persons should consider masking when in large groups. You’ve all done your part to stop the spread of this deadly virus by getting vaccinated, and I commend you for it. Please continue to convince those who remain unvaccinated to do their part if we are ever to achieve the herd immunity necessary to stop the spread of the virus and to prevent the creation of potentially even deadlier variants in the future.”
Third, I encourage you to retain the creative and innovative spirit that so many of you have demonstrated during this pandemic. Find ways to remain connected to your congregants, because they need your guidance and your listening ear. One lesson the past year has taught us is how much people need their church family and miss it when it becomes inaccessible. Remember to reach out and call members; check on the elderly and homebound at your church. Families might be struggling with fears related to going back to school. Also, look for where your church can provide leadership, help and support in the community. There is so much need in our neighborhoods right now.
My mind goes back to the scripture we recently used as a theme for Annual Conference, “The three most important things to have are faith, hope and love. But the greatest of them is love.” These words could not be more true today.
We lean on faith in trying times like these, and we must continue to hold onto hope. Most importantly, however, we have to show love – and support and encourage each other.
Grace and peace,
Bishop Scott J. Jones