Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Let me first commend you for your patience and faithfulness during this difficult and painful season of COVID-19. As shepherds of God’s flock, you have been diligent in proclaiming the Word and caring for your communities of faith in amazing and extraordinary ways. We will continue to need your holy imaginations and creative spiritual actions in the days ahead. Therefore, I pray that all the new things God has taught, and continues to teach us through this pandemic, will not stop because we are now readying ourselves to resume in-person worship.
I am indeed grateful for the Kentucky Annual Conference’s task force, which has faithfully worked to shape ways of honoring God through re-entry, while still protecting the most vulnerable of society against COVID-19. Below you will find guidelines in phases that we feel will give us the best chance to care for one another without causing more pain, suffering, or death. These phases are:
Phase I - Preparing Facilities and Congregational Members for Re-Entry
Phase II - Re-Entry into Facilities and Worship
Phase III - Sustaining Safe Facilities and Health of Congregational Members
As you prepare to resume in-person worship, know that you should feel no sense of pressure to resume on May 20th or 24th. Set your own time-line for reopening, taking into consideration both the recommendations of our task force and forthcoming guidelines from the governor’s office. Also, use the phases we are providing to create that time-line for resumption of in-person worship and ministry. At the very least, it is important that you have fulfilled the guidelines for Phase I before reopening. Phase II is also included with this document. The task force will share Phase III in the near future.
I have asked the task force to stay together because, even though we will be able to start in-person worship, nothing about it will be normal for the foreseeable future. This team will also remain intact to make sure we do not lose the creativity, energy, and spiritual momentum God has blessed us with in our willingness to try new things.
Along with the guidelines, below are the names of the task force team members who have given their time and energy to help us live into the Three Simple Rules that John Wesley laid out as a set of real-world guidelines to help us apply our faith to our everyday lives. The rules, a tangible way to live out our faith as we continue to navigate this pandemic, are:
- Do no harm.
- Do good.
- Stay in love with God.
I believe God is birthing something new out of our suffering. We are, after all, Easter people. Again, thank you for your patience and faithfulness as we move forward with care, prayer, and guidance from the Holy Spirit. Please know that my prayers and love are with you now and in all the days ahead.
Bishop Leonard Fairley
Re-Entry Task Force Team Members:
Rev. Dr. Eric Bryant, Director New Church Development
Kathy Bryant, RN-BC, BSN, Norton Healthcare Faith & Health Ministries
Rev. Patty Groot, Bridge Pastor, Christ Church United Methodist
Rev. William Moore, Director of Connectional Ministries
Craig Robertson, Spiritual Leadership, Inc.
Dr. Marian Smith, RN Faith Community Nurse, Assistant Professor of Nursing WKU
Rev. James Williams, Lead Pastor Centenary UMC, Lexington