Dear West Virginia Conference Family and Friends,
As your bishops, we want to thank you for all that you have done to ensure the safety of everyone who comes into a United Methodist building during this season of COVID-19. We acknowledge that this has been a very challenging season. We all are grieving the loss of a way of life. Some are grieving the loss of loved ones. We have all felt the economic impact of the virus. And some of us have had contentious conversations about safety protocols, including vaccinations. We are praying for your strength, health, and wisdom during this time.
We are grateful for your continued efforts to do everything possible to keep everyone who comes into a United Methodist building safe. And we encourage you to continue to work with your relaunch/safety/protocol teams to stay vigilant in your efforts. In the words of the gospel song, “The storm is passing over”, however, the storm has not yet passed. And as disciples, we have an obligation to do all that we can to keep those in our community safe until it does.
We strongly encourage all churches to continue to follow CDC guidelines. For community, work, and school the CDC guidelines include: “get vaccinated as soon as you can and wear a mask indoors in public if you are in an area of substantial or high transmission.”
The state of West Virginia is currently experiencing a high rate of increased infection, hospitalization, and death due to the Coronavirus and the Delta variant. The Conference guidelines continue to encourage persons to wear masks and practice social distancing during worship if persons have returned to in-person worship.
We also strongly encourage mask-wearing for other indoor church gatherings. In addition, we continue to encourage you, wherever possible, to provide virtual options for worship to stay connected and to engage and support those who do not yet feel comfortable to return to indoor gatherings or who must quarantine at home because they have been exposed to or tested positive for the virus.
Thank you for continuing care for all God’s people! We know journeying through this pandemic has not been easy. We know it has taken a mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual toll on clergy and lay leadership throughout the Conference area. But know this: You are a blessing!
Thank you for all your sacrifice and for all you do for the sake of Christ!
Grace and Peace,
Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball
Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi