Beloved of God,
I greet you in the precious name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ. In just a few short days we will be celebrating Pentecost Sunday. The Greek word pentecoste
means "fiftieth day" and marks the time when the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles and others assembled in Jerusalem, marking the birth of the church. For many of us, the “fiftieth day” also marks our time away from in-person worship since the disruption in all areas of our lives caused by this global pandemic. Since March, the Iowa Crisis Response Team and the Appointive Cabinet have turned to specialists in the field of infectious disease to chart a course that privileges lives over every other consideration.
We used that measure as we weighed when to suspend work at the Conference Center, when to advise our congregations to refrain from in-person worship, and most recently in crafting the Reentry Plan for the Iowa Conference. The plan and additional resources can be found on the IAUMC Website, including Guidelines, Checklist for Re-entry, FAQ's, and more: https://www.iaumc.org/123churchreentry
I, along with the full Cabinet and Crisis Response Team, recommend that if you live in a county that continues to see an increase, is maintaining, or is just beginning to see a slight decrease in COVID-19 cases, the local churches in that county should continue to conduct virtual worship and refrain from in-person gathering until it is clearly safe to do so. Similarly, if you have very few cases with no recorded increase for two weeks, and if your leadership team has determined that it is ready to move forward into the Yellow Phase of Reentry, you may do so beginning June 1, 2020. We know that throughout Iowa we continue to see epicenters of new cases of the coronavirus. Therefore, please be adaptive and regularly reassess your reentry plans. Attached you will find a Reentry Checklist
to aid in your planning and procedures.
Since Polk County continues to see a rise in cases, the Conference Center will continue to be closed to the public until June 15, 2020. I invite you to join me in prayer for those who are most at risk as they care for the sick or work in essential locations, for those working to find a vaccine, and, most importantly, for those who are suffering from COVID-19 and who have lost friends and loved ones during these unprecedented times.
Bishop Laurie Haller