Being a Good Neighbor

In place of this morning's devotion, I'm sharing a letter Bishop Sally Dyck wrote to United Methodists in response to the rise in Covid-19 cases and Illinois' Tier 3 Mitigation Guidelines. Governor J.B. Pritzker has announced new Tier 3 mitigation guidelines that are to go into effect on Friday, November 20, 2020. The state of Illinois like most other states is experiencing an alarming spike in COVID-19 cases and in order to prevent further infection and death as well as to avoid overwhelming hospitals, we must all do our part. We must be good neighbors to those in our communities and churches, to be part of the solution to this COVID spike, and to keep ourselves and loved ones safe. Therefore, I would ask that churches not meet for the next four weeks at least. This is also in keeping with the request made by Bishop Frank Beard in the Illinois Great River Conference. What any one of us does affects all of us at this point in the pandemic. Our churches might be the only ones in our communities who are not having in-person worship but we will then not be super-spreaders of the disease. We are called to do no harm and that means abiding by measures that we know are effective in helping to prevent the spread of infection: wear a mask in public, wash your hands, and practice social distancing. The governor has effectively asked us to stay home! In terms of other groups in our buildings, I would discourage them although the governor did say that daycare centers were acceptable. Please abide by the guidelines of your specific county. If you are in doubt, please call your county department of public health or visit their website. I would also ask that everyone refrain from Thanksgiving gatherings beyond people with whom you are already sheltering. As I have heard repeatedly, it’s hard to imagine not gathering for Thanksgiving, but we need to in order to be able to gather again in the near future. Also, I would encourage clergy and churches to begin to prepare for online Christmas Eve services if you haven’t already since it doesn’t look like this is going to subside by then. I know this is hard but we must all be part of the solution to keep ourselves and each other healthy (and alive). The vaccine seems to be just around the corner and we don’t want to let our guard down now. Be safe! Be a good neighbor! And make a difference! Sincerely, Bishop Sally Dyck, November 19, 2020

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