This update was issued by e-mail on April 16 to clergy and leadership.
April 16, 2020
Upcoming Zoom gatherings for clergy and leadership
Canon to the Ordinary Bill Parnell will host Zoom conferences for clergy and wardens next week, to pray together and check in with one another about COVID-19 updates and local response. While a time is designated for each region, clergy and wardens are free to join the meeting time that is most convenient. Zoom links have been e-mailed to clergy and wardens.
- Southern Region: Tuesday, April 21, 3-4 p.m.
- Central Region: Wednesday, April 22, 4-5 p.m.
- Northern and Western Region: Thursday April 23, 10-11 a.m.
Also on the schedule are:
Zoom conference for clergy with children at home, hosted by the regional canons: on Thursday, May 7, 2-3 p.m. Zoom link has been e-mailed to clergy.
Zoom conferences for parish administrators, hosted by the bishops' executive assistants, on Tuesday, April 21 and Thursday, April 23, 11 a.m.-12 p.m. Find additional details here.
The weekly series of Zoom conferences for youth ministry and children's formation colleagues continues every Thursday at 3:30 p.m. Find additional details here.
The Lifespan Ministry with Older Adults Workshop scheduled for Saturday, May 2 at 9 a.m. will take place via Zoom, and is now being focused as a forum to discuss challenges and lessons learned in ministering to the needs of older adults and those with age-related disabilities during this time of COVID-19 distancing. Find sign-up details here.
Online giving and response
COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund
"Bear one another's burdens." (Galatians 6:2) Federal stimulus checks have begun to arrive in many of our households. If your income has not been interrupted by the current crisis, we hope you will consider sharing this benefit with others in need by directing some or all of these funds to your congregation and/or to our Diocese of Massachusetts COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund, which is open to receive online gifts at www.diomass.org/give-now. The fund has been established to help meet critical community needs and congregational sustainability during the time of the pandemic.
The online application for COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund grants is now available here. Congregations affiliated with the Diocese of Massachusetts or its organizations, including ecumenical, interfaith and community partnerships, are invited to apply. Grant applications, for up to $5,000, will be considered on the 1st and 15th day of each month.
Additionally, Episcopal City Mission has launched a Rapid Response Fund to support local communities, grassroots organizations and Episcopal communities facing unprecedented challenges as a result of COVID-19. Find more information about how to give and how to apply here.
Operations and finance
Contingency plans for clergy: In response to Bishop Gates's counsel to clergy during the Holy Tuesday online gathering, the regional canons, in consultation with the deans, have prepared a "Contingency Checklist for Clergy" which describes church and personal needs to be considered should clergy fall ill. The checklist is posted here. Clergy are urged to prepare this document and keep copies on file with family members or a friend and in the church office or with wardens.
CARES Act information: Three additional resources provide information about provisions of the CARES Act:
- Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Participation of Faith-based Organizations, from the Small Business Administration, for congregations interested in applying for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) or the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (EIDL).
- The Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery--Crisis Funding Comes with Heightened Investigation Risk, from the law firm Bass, Berry & Sims, a document recommended by the diocesan chancellor, Ned Notis-McConarty.
- CARES ACT Charitable Giving Incentives, from the Episcopal Church Foundation, which describes new charitable deductions, whether itemized or not, and qualified charitable distributions from retirement accounts.
Caring for one another
Gun safety: The co-conveners of Bishops United Against Gun Violence, of which Bishop Gates and Bishop Harris are both members, have written an important op-ed for Religion News Service on the surge in gun sales occurring during the COVID-19 pandemic: "As our nation struggles to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, gun sales are surging. ... As bishops of the Episcopal Church we are concerned that the proliferation of weapons in our society will result not in greater safety, but in greater violence." Read in full here.
Gun owners are urged to practice the most stringent storage safeguards. Clergy are urged to keep a watchful eye out for households in which there might be increased risk of suicide or domestic violence. Resources include: www.suicidehotlines.com/massachusetts and www.domesticshelters.org/help/ma.
Sites needed for Red Cross blood drives: The American Red Cross of Massachusetts is seeking sites for blood drives in the coming months. Congregations that have parish halls or other spaces that meet the following criteria are asked to contact our diocesan disaster preparedness and response coordinator James Thomas (firstname.lastname@example.org) who will develop a list of potential sites.
- Facilities with central air conditioning (not required except May 15-Oct. 5)
- 1,200+ sq ft
- No more than 10 stairsteps (necessary for loading and unloading equipment)
Those who are healthy and eligible to give blood or platelets are urged to make an appointment to donate as soon as possible by using the Red Cross Blood Donor app, visiting www.redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED-CROSS/1-800-733-2767.
"Open the Hotels": The Rev. Jennifer McCracken, Head Pastor of the Cathedral Church of St. Paul's MANNA ministry with the homeless community in downtown Boston, has written a letter to Governor Charlie Baker requesting that unoccupied hotel rooms be made available as temporary shelter to unhoused people facing drastic lack of services and support in the current crisis. Faith leaders and medical and social services personnel are invited to sign the letter, available here.