In Such a Time As This



A Message from Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi

Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi sent the following message to church leaders and pastors regarding the coronavirus on March 11, 2020. 


God is our refuge and strength,
    a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
    though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
though its waters roar and foam,
    though the mountains tremble with its tumult.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
    the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved;
    God will help it when the morning dawns.
The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter;
    he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our refuge.
Come, behold the works of the Lord;
    see what desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
    he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear;
    he burns the shields with fire.
Be still, and know that I am God!
    I am exalted among the nations,
    I am exalted in the earth.”
The Lord of hosts is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our refuge.

Periodically there are times when viruses and bacteria shake our world.  We are in such a time.  Nations like China and Italy are in an uproar.  The self-proclaimed kingdom of “Wall Street” is tottering. During times like these I want to remind all of us that: “The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.”  God speaks to us: “Be still, and know that I am God!”

Many have asked if they should cancel worship or other church activities. During times like these God has provided us with health professionals and epidemiologists who can provide us with counsel and wisdom in making these decisions.  Please read the attached information and guidelines prepared by Dr. Jessica Price who leads our Abundant Health Team. It will give you some valuable information. (The same document is attached in PDF and Word format.)

Because our annual conference covers many different communities with different levels of potential risk, it would not be prudent for us to make a unilateral decision about church activities.  Please pay attention to the recommendations of your local government and health department officials and use common sense and a spirit of consultation in making those decisions.
Here are some issues to consider as you make decisions about whether or not to cancel or postpone church activities:

  • There are some pastors with health conditions that may make them vulnerable to viruses.  These pastors may want to enlist the support of healthy lay persons to provide leadership for this season as the pastor self quarantines.
  • Similarly, there may be some laity in positions of leadership who have unique health concerns that may prevent them from being physically present at church events for a season.  Please use creative ways to include them in the life of the church.
  • Our sick and shut in are particularly vulnerable to isolation because of their health and the stipulations of their nursing facilities.  Please inundate those persons with phone calls and letters until you can, once again, physically visit them.
  • Theologically, we are not obligated to offer communion every time we worship, or even every first Sunday. As Methodists we have always been practical people who adjust our practices based on what is most needed at the time.
  • If communion is to be administered, please follow all necessary precautions.  We do NOT believe that the bread and juice actually become the body and blood of Jesus, so they can still transmit diseases if proper care is not taken.
  • Perhaps especially during times of crisis, people need a Word from God and a community around them.  If pastors, working in consultation with the Board of Trustees and other lay leadership in the church, determine that it is not safe to have the church building open for worship, then please be creative and make provisions via social media or other methods for people to gather virtually or somehow hear or read a message and be together as community. (Watch the weekly enews for links to stories with ideas.)

The Christian Associates of Southwest Pennsylvania are reaching out to our local government and health officials to ask how we as churches can be helpful to them.  If they offer some recommendations or make some requests of us, I will pass those on to the appropriate churches. 
Let me remind you again that we have faith in God, so we do not need to panic as the world panics.  We also have the gift of the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, so we can make sound decisions about our own safety and the safety of those around us.  I urge pastors and laity not to make decisions in isolation, but consult with each other and seek God’s wisdom in order to make the best choices for your community.  Please use your District Superintendent as a sounding board if you need to do so.