February 06, 2021 | by Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño
February 6, 2021
Yesterday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling on California’s ban on indoor religious services has raised questions from some of our churches in the California-Nevada Conference. I want to affirm that as a conference of The United Methodist Church, even in the light of a Supreme Court ruling, we continue to hold responsibility for the life and well-being of our congregations and care for our neighbors in the communities where we serve.
We need to persevere in doing no harm, focused on doing all the good we can by sheltering-in place, practicing social distancing, wearing masks, getting vaccinated, and observing the recommendations we receive from state and county government, recommendations based on the best learnings of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In the worst pandemic the world has experienced in 100 years, it is sad and regrettable to see the number of times churches have contributed to the worsening of this pandemic and the loss of life. I pray that our United Methodist churches will not be added to this list.
Our California-Nevada Conference COVID-19 Protocols will continue to be enforced. To assist our pastors and the lay members of our churches, here is a link to our protocols. Let us all review them carefully and help one another in maintaining them. I would also ask that we all read the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in its entirety. Its ruling is complex and instructive. Here is a link for the ruling.
While we respect the South Bay United Pentecostal Church who brought the matter to the U.S. Supreme Court and others who believe as they do, we United Methodists have a different theological perspective. We believe that science and medicine are gifts from God that are not to be summarily rejected or ignored without prayerful consideration. More importantly, we believe that the Church is not a physical building but the living body of Christ Jesus composed of those who claim Christ as Lord and Savior and who strive to live as those who are committed to loving God and loving neighbor. We believe that worship and prayer and Christian fellowship are not contained or limited by what we do in our church buildings.
This time of pandemic has challenged us to find new ways to be the Church, but what is eternally true is that our lives should be lived as those who face each and every day, and not just Sundays, nor just in our church buildings, in the worship of our God, with prayers for sustaining grace, and in the awareness that our Christian fellowship is for the purpose of being strengthened for the task of being disciples of Jesus Christ. If this way of life has been lost among us, then we have failed and must start anew. May God the source of perfect love, Christ the healer of our brokenness, and the Holy Spirit our strength, guide us forth.
Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño
Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño is Resident Bishop of the California-Nevada Conference of The United Methodist Church.