COVID-19
(19 May 2021)
Camp Luther ... Vespers Knoll cross
West Virginia - Western Maryland Synod
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Page Contents
  • Headline News
    • Government announcments
    • Osterholm on the Pandemic
    • Webinar with WV Task Force
  • Government Statements Page
  • Church Life & Work under COVID-19
    • VBS & Camps
    • Worship, Devotion, Pastoral Acts
      • Worship
        • Ash Wednesday
        • Requiem Mass Template
      • Reopening
        • Reopening Webpage
      • Copyright
    • Church Finance, Administration, Polity
      • Polity
        • Congregation Meetings
        • Email Voting
      • CARES Act
        • Payroll Protection Program
        • Charitable Giving
      • Reopening Congregations
  • Synod Worship During COVID-19
  • Bishop's Pastorals
    • Thursday of Easter Octave (4/16/2020)
    • Palmarum (4/5/2020)
    • Oculi (3/15/2020)
Roadshow

The Bishop's Roadshow, a major communication channel for pandemic matters related to the synod, is being rebuilt (from scratch). So, if you want Roadshow information, you'll have to resubscribe. Click here for information and subscription.

Facebook

We also use Facebook to share information. If you have a Facebook account, you can check us out on the WV-WMD Synod Facebook page.

Information on this page is updated from time to time. Checking back periodically is not a bad idea. If you browser caches pages (most do), you may want to hit the refresh button.

Headline News

There has been a flurry of announcements from the CDC and the governors of our sates and commonwealth. Before relying on what your neighbor told you or what you saw on Facebook, go to the source.

Osterholm on the Pandemic

The St. Paul Area Synod hosted Dr. Michael Osterholm, PhD, MPH, from Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) as their keynote speaker for Saturday (2/27/21) morning's Tool Kit for Congregational Leaders. Dr. Osterholm cautioned about another surge in the coming weeks due to variants that are more transmissible and cause more severe illness. He warned against letting our guard down due to pandemic fatigue, asked church leaders to encourage vaccinations and discussed the humanitarian and strategic effort to ensure people in all countries receive vaccinations in an equitable manner. The conversation can be watched on Facebook.

Webinar with WV Task Force

The WV Council of Churches hosted a webinar on 16 February 2021 with the State of WV Task Force. Watch the webinar here.

Government Statements

The government declarations and statements have been moved to their own page. Click here to visit the COVID-19 Government Declarations page to find our what recommendations and orders our elected officials are promulgating that might affect church life (among many other things).

Church Life and Work under COVID-19

Worship, Devotional Resources, and Pastoral Acts

This has been moved to a new page: COVID-19 Worship (click here). Especially important is the guidance on Zoom Baptism.

VBS & Camps

The CDC published, on 4 January 2021, "Suggestions for Youth and Summer Camps." While these do not supersede state and local regulations, they are a good place to start your thinking about VBS, retreats, camps, etc..

Camp Luther and Caroline Furnace continue to assess the changing pandemical conditions for the summer. In the meantime, Caroline Furnace's year-round facilities are currently open for family and small group retreats/camping/meetings.

Worship

Ash Wednesday

Several have asked about Ash Wednesday, specifically, how to observe it under the current pandemical conditions. Guidance is available here.

Requiem Mass Template

A requiem mass template is now available on the COVID-19 Worship Page. If you are looking for a way to memorialize those who have died during the time of quarantine or from the pandemic, take a look.

Updated Copyright Info

Don't end up paying massive fines because you didn't stop to think about copyright law. New information posted on the COVID-19 Worship page.

Reopening

Questions about reopening churches have been swirling, ever since West Virginia's Gov. Justice announced that state's Safer At Home protocols. DEM Sherri Schafer developed a white paper examining multiple questions related to congregational reopening, presenting it to synod pastors in a Zoom meeting on April 30. Since then, Synod has been monitoring new information coming out from various government an ecclesiastical entities, attempting to update and collate what has already been posted on these pages with the latest guidance.

Reopening Webpage

A new Synod webpage has been mounted that attempts to put all the information related to reopening in one place. Visit Reopening & COVID-19 by clicking here.

Church Finances, Administration, and Polity

Polity

Congregation Meetings

Several have asked about holding congregation meetings while under pandemical restrictions. Guidance related to congregational meetings has been posted here.

Email Voting by Congregation Council (4/22/2020)

Guidance has been posted on this question that has come up more than once and will probably come up even more with the pandemic-restrictions that are currently in place. Click here to access.

CARES Act: Update 2/27/2021

The CARES Act and its extensions are something every congregational treasurer should review. There is some older info about the Cares Act archived here, but we provide this link only for reference purposes. The new stuff is in the following paragraphs.

Payroll Protection Program: Third Round

Paycheck Protection Program has proved helpful to some of our congregations and agencies.A third round has been authorized by Congress. Applications opened Feb. 24 and will continue for two weeks from that date. For a snap shot, click here. For more in-depth information, forms, etc. mounted on the Small Business Administration website, click here.

The ELCA Federal Credit Union is an SBA-certified lender. Visit the ELCA FCU to learn more.

Charitable Contributions

The above-the-line tax deduction for gifts of cash to charity (qualifying 501(c)3 entities) has been extended through tax year 2021. Taxpayers are allowed to deduct $300 for charitable gifts even if the standard deduction is used. If filing jointly, the deduction is $600. Our DEM, Sherri Schafer wrote back in the November,

Part of my new responsibilities is to help congregations with issues around stewardship. With the end of the giving year quickly approaching, I wanted to lift up a part of the CARES Act that you may have missed. Did you know that the CARES Act allows tax payers to deduct up to $300 to a qualified non-profit (501(c)3) without itemizing your deductions? This includes but is not limited to your congregation, the WV-WMD Synod, Lutheran Campus Ministry at WVU, Community Lutheran Partners, Camp Luther, Camp Caroline Furnace, United Lutheran Seminary, Thiel College, and the West Virginia Council of Churches. These are ministries with which the WV-WMD Synod has a “local” connection. Donations may also be made to the many ministry units in the ELCA as well as community entities.

Because we are a fan of getting it straight from the horses mouth, here's what the IRS said back in November. The extension is reported by the Congressional Research Service here. You should also review the IRS standards because we're not tax lawyers---Доверяй, но проверяй (trust, but verify)---making sure you follow all rules. You will also find other changes to charitable giving rules at IRS.gov.

If you are thinking of making an additional gift, consider your congregation or any of these synod or synod-related entities

  • Camp Luther,
  • Caroline Furnace,
  • Community Lutheran Partners,
  • Lutheran Campus Ministry at WVU,
  • Thiel College,
  • United Lutheran Seminary,
  • West Virginia Council of Churches, and the
  • WV-WMD Synod including these funds
    • Rostered Leader Debt Reduction Fund,
    • Bishop's Discretionary Fund,
    • Tri-Synod Archives, and
    • General Fund.

Reopening of Congregations (5/17/2020)

Be sure to visit the Synod's Reopening & COVID-19 webpage. Click here.

Synod clergy were invited to a zoom conference held 30 April 2020 on the reopening of churches. Another zoom conference is being planned for key lay leaders from each congregation. In addition, printed guidance is being developed.

Note well, where allowed, reopening is an option, not a requirement. Additionally not all synod congregations are in localities where restrictions are being eased. Prior to reopening,

  • Check your locality's restrictions: when comparing Federal, state, county, and municipal orders, the most restrictive applies.
  • Consult with your insurer
  • Consult with your attorney
  • Consult with parishioners with medical expertise (nurses, doctors, public health experts and officials).
Information on government orders and resources from both the states/commonwealth and the CDC can be accessed on our Government Page.

Synod Worship During COVID-19

We've moved some stuff off this page because it was getting crowded. If you are looking for
  • Synod Worship Videos
  • Worship and Devotional Resources
  • Guidance on Worship
Visit our COVID-19 Worship page (click here).






Bishop's Pastorals

Thursday of the Easter Octave MMXX

The Bishop's letter of 16 April 2020 has been posted. He examines the opportunity for evangelism in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, calling for a doubling of church attendance. Here it is:

It's four in the morning, and I have been up since 2:30 AM, unable to get back to sleep because the dream I had won't let me go. I'm not going into the details of the dream, but here is the upshot:

I am asking that we double our church attendance.

Well, right now, our church attendance is, as we currently would fill out our parochial reports, zero. Let's not double that. I'm talking about our attendance prior to the COVID-19 restrictions. Let us double that number.

I know that one of the fears running through the hearts of church leadership ... (click to continue)

Palmarum MMXX

The Bishop's pastoral of Palmarum (Palm Sunday) 2020 has been posted. Here is it:

Brothers and sisters, once you get some years on you and travel around a bit, you begin to realize that things haven’t always been the way they are. Of course, I am talking about liturgical practice, and, on this Palm Sunday, I can’t help but muse upon Palm Sundays past, as social isolation is an inciting muse. Childhood Palm Sundays were, as I remember (keep in mind that this is some forty years ago), not communion Sundays. The special practice for the day included getting one’s palms, but this was done by recession, not procession. That’s right: we had a recession with palms. Toward the end of the service, there would be some liturgical blessing of the palm. I don’t remember the details, but I do remember getting up as if we were going to communion, coming to the rail, receiving our palms, and walking out. Do I remember correctly that this recession was done while a soloist sang Jean-Baptiste Faure's The Palms? ... (click to continue)

 Oculi MMXX

On Oculi Sunday (15 March 2020), Bishop Riegel published a pastoral letter related to COVID-19 on both the Roadshow and Facebook. Here it is:

Brothers and sisters in Christ, since the age of 19, I’ve been in uniformed service. Park Ranger, FF/EMT (with multiple departments and squads), and, for most of my life since, the ministry, have been professional and volunteer work in which I put on a uniform and served my neighbor. I think back, at this time, to my fourteen years in EMS. When I first started running on the ambulance, the HIV pandemic was heating up. There was an initial time of fear, but no one I knew quit the service. We learned to use gloves, masks, shields, and other devices in new ways, but the mission didn’t change. The klaxon screamed, and we climbed into our rigs, heading out with no idea whether the next patient was infected. We were more cautious than we had been before, but the mission was the mission. Whoever the patient was and whatever their medical condition or emergency, it was our job to care for them. There was danger, but, in the field, there is always danger. The question was never “should we respond,” but rather “how do we respond well.” I remember a fire fighter who performed CPR without a pocket mask.... (click to continue)


 
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West Virginia-Western Maryland Synod, ℅ St. Paul Lutheran Church, 309 Baldwin Street, Morgantown, WV 26505
304-363-4030  +  Porter@WV-WMD.org