This is the churches stance on Covid-19 and the vaccine per Bishop Grant J. Hagiya
With the proposed reopening of the state of California on June 15 removing most COVID-19 restrictions, our own plans as an Annual Conference are impacted. We have always sought to follow the guidelines of the State, County and City, and depending upon what those guidelines are on June 15, we will adjust accordingly. There may well be recommendations for the removal of all restrictions, and yet suggestions for continued caution concerning indoor gatherings are likely. Please study the new State, County and City guidelines that will be released this week as you make your plans for reopening.
We remind our churches that it will be up to the appointed clergy and elected church leadership to make the final determination as how and when to return to in-person worship. It is also up to each congregation member to determine the safety of their attendance.
If your church has already submitted a plan for reopening and it has been approved by your District Superintendent, there will be no need to send in another plan. If your church has not submitted an approved plan, a short description of the safety of reopening using the June 15 guidelines will be required. You do not have to use the old Formstack template, as much of that information is no longer relevant. A short description of the church’s reopening plans to your District Superintendent is all that is required. In addition, a small group is working on a new set of guidelines that may be helpful in your church’s plan for reopening. We have included a draft with this Briefing, and it will be posted on our conference website.
If you have any questions or concerns, do not hesitate to call your District Superintendent who can help you navigate this new situation. It will be new to all of us, but a collective response is always more helpful than an individual one.
As we adapt, let us also be grateful that we are emerging from the darkness and despair of COVID-19. We need to pray for those who lost their lives to the virus, and their families and loved ones. We also pray for the COVID-19 hotspots in our world where it continues to spread and take lives. May we be compelled to distribute vaccines to those locales that are in such need. We are not done with COVID-19 just yet. There is much more work that needs to be done, but we thank God for grounding us in Jesus Christ to get through the worst of the pandemic
After a long, dark isolation we are showing signs of seeing the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. As many of our areas are moving to the lightest level of restrictions, our California-Pacific Annual Conference will be adapting also. Due to your faithful following of safety protocols, we have not had any widespread breakouts of the virus in any of our churches. To my knowledge, we have not lost one person who contracted COVID-19 at one of our churches. Again, this is all due to your patience, discipline and faithfulness. I want to thank all of you for helping us during the most challenging of times.
As we set the stage for our own Cal-Pac Annual Conference response, one of our prime objectives is to emerge out of our COVID-19 crisis as safely as possible. Once again, we are not there yet, and we have to be diligent in our safety protocols to ensure that our churches do not transmit the virus.
However, we are not yet at the finish line. We are vaccinating more and more people, but far from the herd immunity necessary to keep everyone safe. Even if one is completely vaccinated, you can still get the virus and pass it along to others. The new mutant viruses continue to proliferate and infect more people. We are still some time away from being completely safe in opening up our churches.
In a recent article from the Atlantic, Dr. James Hamblin of the Yale School of Public Health points out,
“Our social lives can resume, but only when the whole community is ready. The turning point does not arrive for individuals, one by one, as soon as they’ve been vaccinated; it comes for all of us at once, when a population becomes immune.”
I really appreciate this statement because it applies so much to us as the church community. We all get there together, or not at all. We wait patiently for each one of us to cross the finish line. We travel together, rather than alone.
With this in mind, we continue to follow the state, county and city guidelines and tier levels. Our churches can resume in-person worship if they submit their plans to the District, receive the consent of the pastor, Administrative Council, and District Superintendent. At this point, we must wear masks and observe the standard distance between individuals. The difficult issue is singing indoors, and I hope you will remain cautious with this. For safety’s sake, you will need masks on while singing and maintain proper distance from each other.
We are close, but not there yet. If we can hang on just a little bit longer and have the patience and discipline to keep safe, we will get home soon.
Be the Hope,
Bishop Grant J. Hagiya
Los Angeles Area Resident Bishop