Bishop Tracie Bartholomew

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June 7, 2019 

Bishop Bartholomew was re-elected to a second term.  

Visit the Assembly page for a recap, photos and much more.

March 11, 2020

Dear Friends,

 

As we monitor the spread of Covid-19, many of you are making decisions about gathering for worship, social events, shared meals, and educational activities. I encourage you to follow advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html) when making those decisions.  Know that the synod staff is monitoring the situation and following advice from our local government officials. As the situation changes, we will adjust our decision making accordingly.

Our church has provided some guidance for worship practices and our presiding bishop has written a letter, reminding us of Martin Luther’s advice during the plague.  During the recent meeting of the Conference of Bishops, we observed the following practices during worship:

  • Sharing the peace included sign language, bowing to one another, hugs, and some handshakes –depending on the comfort level of the people involved.  No one was compelled or shamed for choosing a particular method of bidding God’s peace to a neighbor.

  • Communion distribution consisted of bread and common cup.  Some chose only to receive the bread; others received the wine by common cup.  Communion ministers washed their hands before the service and used hand sanitizer immediately prior to distribution. Partaking of one or both elements was an individual choice.

  • Offering baskets were placed around the room for worshipers to use thus alleviating the need for people to pass the basket from person to person.

  • Hand sanitizer was available in the worship space and when entering or leaving it.

  • Following worship, people greeted the worship leaders and each other without being forced to shake hands.

 

It is important that while we are vigilant for the protection of our neighbors, we do not panic and overreact.  Overreacting includes hoarding supplies beyond what is needed or cancelling activities and then shaming others who don’t make the same decisions.  Remember there are those who need to be more vigilant than others: those with underlying health issues or who are immunocompromised, the elderly, and infants.  Please keep these people in mind when deciding on a particular course of action.

Many of the commonsense guidelines regarding hand washing, staying home when sick, if possible, and taking care of our neighbors, are not new – our congregations practice these regularly, especially during flu season every year.  Let’s continue to stay calm while taking care of each other. 

Let us pray for those who are sick, afraid, and alone as well as for the medical community and those in care-giving roles.  I know these are challenging times and anxiety is high – please know we are in this together and hold each other in prayer.

 

With you in Christ,

Bishop Tracie L. Bartholomew

1930 State Highway 33

Hamilton Square, NJ 08690

609-586-6800

fax: 609-586-1597

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