A Message from Bishop Mark W. Holmerud

A Message from Bishop Mark W. Holmerud

With each passing week of living through this COVID-19 Pandemic, new questions emerge. Questions about whether we are seeing a decrease in the number of people being infected, hospitalized, admitted to critical care units, or dying from Coronavirus. Questions about how soon we will be allowed to relax some of the restrictions that have been in place to prevent the spread of this virus. Questions about how soon businesses will be able to re-open and life will get back to “normal.” Questions about how we will be church together – now and in the weeks and months to come.

Later this week, Presiding Bishop Eaton and our ELCA Churchwide Organization will be releasing a document entitled, “Worship in Times of Public Health Concerns: Returning to Public Worship – Being Church Together during the COVID-19 Pandemic.” We will send this document to our synod as soon as it is received. We hope it will be a helpful guide for pastors, deacons and leaders in our congregations and ministries to use as we seek to eventually come together in a manner that is in keeping with our concerns for the most vulnerable among us and with government restrictions.

Which begs a challenging question for us to consider: How does a synod as large and diverse as our Sierra Pacific Synod respond to the many different government entities that are issuing orders for how and when restrictions will end? We are a synod of 185 congregations and other ministries in two states and over 50 different counties. How do we reconcile the different messages that are being offered in these states and counties? There is confusion, and rightly so, when we hear one government authority speaking with one voice, and another speaking a different message.

My strong encouragement is to be aware of both state and county guidelines. Do the homework required to become aware of what guidance is being offered with regard to restrictions on how and when we can gather. If there is a conflict between the two, please consider following the more stringent of the two sets of guidelines in terms of restrictions and cautions, out of an abundance of concern for the most vulnerable among us. I believe this is the wisest course, and will ensure that our congregational practices are not contributing to the spread of COVID-19.

Thank you for the creative ways you are being church together in this time. It has been gift and grace to know of the ways you have responded in faith to meet the needs of the people we are called to serve. May we be blessed and a blessing as we continue to shelter in place and serve as we are able. Take care.

Bp. Mark