News and Views

Pre-Conference moves online; March 29 in-person worship canceled

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By Erik Alsgaard

Bishop LaTrelle Easterling notified the Baltimore-Washington Conference today that the April 18 Pre-Conference Briefing will not be held on-site in Ranson, W.Va. Rather, the session will be held online, via a webinar. This change, she wrote, follows the updated guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and the State of Maryland on limiting the number of people permitted to gather as a result of the coronavirus.

The April 18 gathering was also slated to include the clergy and laity sessions. Those have been re-scheduled for May 27 at the Annual Conference Session in Baltimore.

In addition, the bishop is directing churches to not gather in their buildings for worship on March 29. Previously, the bishop had directed churches not to meet in person through this coming Sunday, March 22.

“Following the recommendations of government officials and the Centers for Disease Control,” the bishop wrote, “I am directing churches throughout the BWC to refrain from gathering in their buildings through Sunday, March 29.”

Information about future measures are expected to be announced Wednesday, March 25, the bishop added.

In addition, the Conference worship team is currently planning an online conference-wide Easter worship experience, which can be used by local churches if they desire to do so.

Bishop Easterling also addressed a critical ministry area in her email: feeding the hungry.

“Many of you are continuing to care for the poor and vulnerable,” she wrote. “As you do this important work, we ask that you implement established cleanliness precautions to limit the transmission of disease. … Experts suggest you provide meals and other items in bags. These can be distributed to those in need in an open or outdoor location, limiting hand-to-hand contact, perhaps even using a drive-up setting.” 

If churches find that they are unable to continue this ministry, the bishop said it would be helpful to provide a referral to nearby government or nonprofit organizations that can help.

 Read the full letter:

Malcolm R Stranathan Mar 19, 2020 10:54am

Thanks for keeping us in loop I certainly do appreciate the leadership coming from the conference. Keep up the good work. Here at Westminster UMC, we have been worshiping with our community through Zoom and Facebook Live! on Sunday Mornings at 10am. Further, I am doing PM in the PM meditations on Facebook Live! every other day. We are anticipating that this is going to be business moving forward in and through the beginning of the Easter Season. I don't know about waiting until the 25 March is going to be helpful but I also understand the premise of being prepared for a general broadcast is important on the part of the Bishop and Conference center.
I am ever thankful for these technologies that continue to bind us together.