Responding to COVID-19
Dear Presbytery family, December 21, 2020
You may have heard that there have been changes in Los Angeles County’s health orders for churches.
Though the County is painfully aware of the tragic impacts of COVID-19—including, among other things, all County hospitals together have only 0.5% available capacity in their ICU departments—the County is reluctantly complying with recent Supreme Court decisions regarding the separation of church and state.
Though they seriously recommend that churches continue to worship on-line or outdoors, they announced that if a church adheres to restrictions, worship can be held indoors. The restrictions have been posted, and the allowance does not take effect until the church commits to complying with the new restrictions.
As a Presbyterian church, we honor human life and consider all places to be sacred. We celebrate the Holy Spirit acting in all the ways we worship—online, outdoors, and on the phone as well as indoors. We also acknowledge the realities of science and our commitment to the safety of our neighbors.
Therefore, we exercise our freedom with responsibility, and understand that even if the secular law says we can do something does not mean we must.
In our polity, it would be for the Session to decide how the church should conduct worship. The Session also must discern the safety, unity, and legal risks taken as a church, employer, and in some cases as a property owner. Legal guidelines will be posted at http://www.publichealth.lacounty.gov/media/Coronavirus/—please look for the protocol for “Places of Worship” and also information for employers.
Therefore, the Presbytery Executive Commission urges our churches to continue worshiping virtually or outdoors until the current extreme danger of this surge has passed. We hope to have more definitive guidelines at our January Presbytery meeting, but in the meantime we cannot support worship indoors, for the sake of our members and friends.
If the Session does consider indoor worship, we advise that you first consult your insurance company, and ensure you adhere to guidelines not only for places of worship but also as employers. There are specific requirements of any employer, for the safety of your employees. Finally, please consult the Presbytery staff if you are considering indoor worship.
As we give thanks that God would honor human life by becoming human in Jesus, let us do likewise and utilize the tools that God has provided to worship in safety. If your church chooses otherwise, please remember that the Presbytery website, www.sangabpres.org, has a directory of our churches who are holding meaningful and faithful worship online, and you can praise God with them.
Giving thanks to God for this holy season, and for you.
Rev. Wendy Tajima
The California Regional Stay Home Order (PDF) went into effect at midnight last night. Over the last six days, the County of Los Angeles is averaging 8,295 newly diagnosed COVID-19 cases. Between November 13- December 6, 2020, hospitalizations of confirmed COVID-19 patients have increased by 140% to 2,855. In addition, the adult Intensive Care Unit (ICU) bed capacity for the Region is now below 15%, at just 10.6%, which triggered the initiation of the State’s Regional Stay At Home Order.
The order will remain in effect for at least 3 weeks. After that period, it will be lifted when a region’s projected ICU capacity meets or exceeds 15%. This will be assessed on a weekly basis after the initial 3- week period.
Everyone in Los Angeles County should remain at their homes and with members of their household as much as possible. Even if you don’t feel sick, being around people outside your household is extremely risky. Avoid doing any activities that are not essential. Always wear a face covering whenever outside your home, keep your distance from others not in your household, wash your hands frequently, and avoid crowds. Individuals with underlying health conditions and those that are older should remain in their home and not be around others unless seeking routine or essential health care. Please contact your health care provider to schedule essential care, as these services remain open and can be utilized safely. If you are having difficulty breathing, go to an emergency room or call 911.
Even though worship services can continue be held outdoors, due to the increased risk of transmission even outside, and the cold weather, we continue to recommend that churches worship so that members can participate from their homes.
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Resources from PC(USA) National Church
ZOOM Council Meetings for Leaders – Synod of Mid America
ZOOM Council Meetings for Commissioners – Synod of Mid America
Tips for the Casual Zoom User – Synod of Mid America
Presbytery of San Gabriel Resources
Guidelines for Reopening (Developing)
Weekly Zoom Chat for Church Leaders and Clergy of the Presbytery of San Gabriel
- Tuesdays at 10:00 a.m.
- Join Zoom Meeting: https://zoom.us/j/906806900
- Meeting ID: 906 806 900
- One tap mobile: +16699009128,,906806900#
- Landline: +1 669 900 9128
COVID-19 and Worship: Resources for Churches Adapting to Social Isolation Calvin Institute of Christian Worship
Comfort Food: A Feast of Love – for use in this time of sheltering in place as people are not able to gather in community for Holy Communion – Marcia McFee, Worship Design Studio
Illustrated Ministry is offering free weekly resources during the pandemic.
24-Hour Prayer Vigil
Participants sign up for 30-minute prayer watches. The person completing their shift tags the next person with a text or e-mail: “God bless you as you keep watch in prayer now!” Distribute a booklet with the schedule, suggested prayers, liturgy, activities like coloring mandalas or writing notes of blessing, music links.
Stewardship and Online Giving
If you would like for your community to use the Presbytery’s online giving platform direct them to https://sangabpres.org/donate/. And tell them this: If you want to give to one of the churches in our Presbytery, fill out the form below selecting the fund “an Individual Church” and in the comments section indicate the name of the church. We will transfer the funds to that church from you.
Ten Tech Tips for Meeting Online from Next Church
Other Meeting Services (just a few):
Leading Beyond the Blizzard: Why Every Organization Is Now a Startup by Andy Crouch, Kurt Keilhacker, and Dave Blanchard
Canoeing the Mountains by Tod Bolsinger
Board of Pensions: EAP
Healthcare does not stop with physical health. These are trying times emotionally and psychologically. Isolation in some cases and overwhelming closeness in others can strain us to a breaking point. The Board offers support through our Employee Assistance Program, which can be reached by calling 866-640-2772 or logging in to the Cigna website. (One-time registration is required; use pcusa for Employee’s Employer ID.) This service is available to anyone in a member’s household.
How You Can Help
San Marino Community Church is hosting a blood drive on June 16 & 17 (Download flyer)
Ministry opportunities for Christians of various ages:
- Food and errands for seniors and others at elevated risk
- Drop-off or drive-through pickup food distribution (PUSD is in need of volunteers contact Ally Lee for information.)
- Ask their schools how to assist stranded college students
- Comfort and understanding for persons experiencing grief over the loss of their dreams (e.g. senior sports season)
- Thank-you cards and drawings to hospital chaplains to share with hospital and nursing home staff.
- Gift cards for groceries for asylum seekers (Contact Kristi Van Nostran)
- Cards to retirees in nursing homes (Contact Diane Frasher or Lauren Evans)
Small Business Administration
Ballard Spahr (outside law firm for the BOP and the A Corporation on benefits issues)
The US Chamber of Commerce
U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship
Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. It has spread from the first cases identified in China to many other countries including the United States. The number of COVID-19 cases in Los Angeles County continues to rise, including many cases due to community transmission of COVID-19. With the rise in cases has come a rise in serious illness among county residents and of deaths due to COVID-19.
The following guidance for faith-based organizations may help to prevent exposure to COVID-19 and thus help reduce its spread. It is of utmost importance that we avert a peak in serious illness that would strain hospital capacity. Your assistance in that effort is critical.