Bishop Minerva, as she is affectionately known not only within our conference but throughout the wider UMC, ecumenical and interfaith connection, does not have 'slow' weeks.
On any given day Bishop can be found leading and developing advocacy initiatives particularly around immigration, working with faith leaders to speak to systemic injustice that keep people marginalized, engaging clergy and lay leaders to keep our local church community strong, and mentoring any number of our faith family who are taking next steps in their own journey.
This past week was no exception.
Every week Bishop Minerva is working with the Extended Cabinet to analyze and mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the work of our local churches, Conference, and the communities where we serve. This work includes supporting local churches as they reach out for financial support through government programs such as the Payroll Protection Program (PPP), assisting Bay area DS Staci Current with the San Francisco Homeless Hotel Project and supporting El Camino Real DS Shinya Goto and his team with their COVID-19 Relief Project that is focusing on helping undocumented immigrant families who have no safety net. With the Extended Cabinet she is also working to support the ongoing ministry of the Conference including strategic visioning. She also continues to meet and work with the Appointive Cabinet in the daily tasks of supporting pastors and local churches and continuing to make appointments. This week she worked with the Commission on the Annual Conference Session as we prepare to for the September 18-21, 2020 session.
Bishop Minerva is a pastor at heart and spends important time each week checking in on pastors who are themselves ill and struggling, as well as welcoming new pastors who are preparing to join the Conference from around the country.
As Bishop continues her work for the Council of Bishops as the lead on the denomination’s Immigration Task force, seeking ways to respond to the suffering of those forced to leave their home and migrate, she is also one of two bishops serving on the General Council on Finance and Administration that is helping the UMC address the economic impact of the pandemic.
Each week Bishop Minerva finds herself working with her colleagues on the Council of Bishops and the Western Jurisdiction College of Bishops on creating a roadmap for how we The United Methodist Church move forward in the time of Covid-19 and postponed General and Judicial Conferences.
This week as a leader with the faith-based organization, Industrial Areas Foundation, Bishop Minerva was called upon to speak at a California state-wide virtual action of 1,000 people from congregations, schools and unions who gathered to ask Governor Newsom to expand the state earned income tax credit to all who pay taxes including undocumented workers. In her statement she said:
We have gathered as leaders from unions, schools, and communities of faith. Our institutions have long been grounded in a commitment to the common good. This action has been about the common good for all Californians.
From listening to the voices of members of our local communities through hundreds of one-on-ones, the analysis of the causes of suffering in our towns and cities and strategic thinking about how we lead our communities from suffering to healing and hope, we know that responding to the needs of immigrants in this time of COVID-19 is critical.
From the beginning of his Administration, Donald Trump has sought to undermine and dismantle every act of compassion and justice that has been extended to undocumented immigrants including their children some of whom were later born in the U.S. or came with them on the migrant journey. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is one good act of compassion and justice that Trump has intentionally worked to do away with.
Trump refers to DACA as an “illegal” and “unconstitutional” program of the Obama-era. Lower courts, however, have differed in opinion supporting the continuation of DACA. It is the prayer of many that the U.S. Supreme Court will also find that DACA is not only legal and constitutional but upholds the understanding of justice that undergirds the U.S. Constitution.
Oh God, Sovereign above all nations, look down upon us with mercy and compassion. Forgive us for the arrogance of our highest leaders, and the complicity of our silence. As we shelter in place attacked by a virus so small we cannot see it, but so powerful that it slays us by the hundreds of thousands, do not allow us to forget that mightier are you, our Creator.
Restore our strength and our courage, through your healing touch. Renew our souls and align our hearts with yours. Remind us that care for one another is what brings us life, commitment to the common good what saves us from the tyranny of self-centeredness, love for all your creation, what brings us hope and true joy!