September 01, 2021 | by Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño
Friends, grace and peace to you in the name of Christ our Lord! You continue to be in my prayers. I am so very grateful to God for your faithfulness and abounding love of God and all God’s children.
I wanted to reach out to you and give you an update on our ministry in the California-Nevada Conference from my place of service among you.
We continue to live with the persevering plague of COVID-19 and now the Delta Variant, but our congregations and clergy in local churches and in ministries beyond the local church have adapted to the challenge with commitment and passion! It is a joy to experience virtual and in-person worship with you and to dream with you about our future in this moment when God is re-shaping us for new life.
Thank you for abiding by the COVID health standards of CDC, our counties, and states. Here at your Conference Center, we have joined you in being intentional about keeping one another and those we encounter in our work and in our lives safe by following responsible safety precautions. We recently had a case of COVID that afflicted one of our staff members and quickly moved to working remotely and having the Conference Center professionally cleaned and sanitized. We are now back at work at the Conference Center, but staff and contract workers were required to be tested for COVID before returning to work, and we have now adopted more long term COVID protocols that require all of us to be vaccinated. The Conference Center is closed to others through September 12th so that we may address the implementation of safe space protocols. You can find our Conference Center COVID-19 Protocols here. They may assist you as you consider such protocols for your local church.
Working with our Commission on the Annual Conference Session we have also adopted safety protocols for our upcoming ACS 2021 scheduled for October 29th -31st. These safety protocols can be found here. If lay members to the ACS are unable to meet these protocols, they will need to work with their pastor to enable the registration of an alternate lay member. Clergy who cannot meet the protocols need to send me a letter, via our new Assistant to the Bishop, Rev. Mike Harrell, requesting to be excused with a copy to Rev. Mark Wharff, Conference Secretary, and their District Superintendent. Rev. Mike Harrell’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
As a Conference, we have a long history of being responsive to the needs of those afflicted by the natural disasters that our area is prone to. I am pleased to report to you that our Conference staff, elected leadership in the areas of disaster response and volunteers in mission, continue to lead us in a spirit of true servant leadership as communities have faced the most recent disastrous fires. No one, however, has responded as diligently as the pastors and local churches closest to the fires who have walked alongside the victims, ministering to their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. As victims have shared with me, there is no higher gift than that of showing up and accompanying those who suffer.
As you know, the Dixie Fire destroyed much of the community of Greenville, CA including our United Methodist Church. We grieve this loss but are thankful to God that no lives were lost. We do lament that those things that have sustained life for our brothers and sisters in Greenville, like their homes, their schools, their places of work and fellowship, those sacred places of spiritual nurture, and the beauty of God’s nature are gone. Let us continue to pray for the victims of the Dixie Fire, the Caldor Fire, and other fires that have affected so many. Let us also continue to pray for front-line workers and disaster response volunteers.
Some of you have asked me about our United Methodist response to the Afghan refugee situation. As United Methodists, we are members of Church World Service, an organization that focuses on refugee resettlement advocacy and support, among a number of other urgent global issues within the scope of their portfolio. We are working collaboratively with the member denominations of CWS to respond with compassion. In meetings we have had in the last few days I have learned that Sacramento and Fremont, CA, have high concentrations of Afghani people and are under consideration for the resettlement of those who will come to the US as a result of the recent termination of the US presence in Afghanistan and its consequences.
Here is an information sheet to help us begin to prepare to welcome Afghani families and unaccompanied children into our area. As they come, let us pray together for the preparation of our hearts, and the overcoming of anti-Muslim sentiment in this country. Above all, let us pray for these men, women, young people, and children in their suffering. They too are God’s children and our siblings.
Finally, I want to let you know that beginning this month I will be devoting focused time to the ministry of the Bay District. When this district was organized by action of the Annual Conference Session in 2018, we determined together that the Bay District with its concentrated and rapidly growing population merited our concerted missional efforts. We could see that a strong Bay District could positively impact the life and witness of the entire Conference.
Some excellent work has been accomplished in the Bay District since its organization under the leadership of DS Staci Current. More than 5 new expressions of ministry are presently being diligently worked on. I am grateful to the clergy and the laity of the Bay District for stepping up with their district superintendent in this good work. I believe that in support of the efforts of its clergy and lay leaders, we now need to strengthen our connectional commitment to growing the Bay District. I intend to be a help in fostering such connectional support. You will see this effort reflected in my public calendar as Bay District Engagement.
God bless you friends in all that you do to serve Christ Jesus. I leave you with a passage of sacred scripture that I have been living with and clinging to these days:
Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño is Resident Bishop of the San Francisco area and the California-Nevada Conference of The United Methodist Church.