Bishop Hagiya’s thoughts

Feeding the Spirit. Building Community. Spreading God's Grace.

Briefing on COVID-19 (2/10/2021)

There are a number of important updates to share on our California-Pacific Annual Conference’s response to COVID-19.

Here is where we stand:

With the Supreme Court’s ruling that churches can open with State, County and City restrictions, the Cabinet is providing for our local churches in California a process by which limited indoor worship can take place.

We are in a time when we are having to rapidly adapt to our constantly changing context; our path forward will continue to be adjusted in light of the circumstances. We do this to fulfill our mission in all the ways that we can without doing harm.

The process takes into account that the Supreme Court ruling qualified these openings based on the latest health updates from local authorities. This means that no singing is allowed and attendance must be limited according to where each Church is in the California State Tier Status Guidance:

Widespread (purple)

Indoor with modifications: 6 feet distance and No singing or chanting
Indoor activities must be limited to 25% of capacity
Substantial (red)

Indoor with modifications: 6 feet distance and No singing or chanting
Indoor activities must be limited to 25% of capacity
Moderate (orange)

Indoor with modifications: 6 feet distance and No singing or chanting
Indoor activities must be limited to 50% of capacity
Minimal (yellow)

Indoor with modifications: 6 feet distance and No singing or chanting
Indoor activities must be limited to 50% of capacity
The process also takes into account that more of our Seniors and health care officials are being vaccinated, and if you are in this category, you may attend indoor church events given the same protocols listed above. One’s safety from COVID-19 increases with both vaccinations, and we are thankful for those who have received these already.

The process to be able to hold limited indoor worship services is as follows:

Obtain permission from the appointed Pastor
Obtain permission from the Church Council or equivalent, and
Obtain permission from the District Superintendent
Remember that we must make these decisions from a faith perspective, which means that this is not as much about one’s rights as the ultimate safety of those whom you care about and love. Before any action is taken at the local church, I ask that the clergy, lay leadership and loving church community stop and ask themselves, “if only one person in our congregation contracts the virus through a worship service or event, is it worth opening?”

Such a question can only be answered with deep prayer and discernment. John Wesley’s key instruction of “Do no harm,” must be taken seriously, and I trust that each local church can answer that for themselves.

Not everyone will be comfortable returning to public worship, and this means that our clergy and church leaders will be doing double the amount of work by providing both online and in-person worship. This is one additional element I hope all of our laity and churches will consider. Our clergy have been exhausted trying to provide a new online format for our churches, and asking them to double that will take an increasing toll on them. Please pray deeply over this additional workload you are asking of your clergy.

Patience is a virtue, and the prudent thing to ask for right now. The hope of the Cabinet is that we all remember to ask God for the patience to endure as we pray about all of these important issues.

Be the Hope,

Bishop Grant J. Hagiya
Los Angeles Area Resident Bishop

For any direct questions or counsel, please contact your District Superintendent. If you need to talk this over with me, feel free to reach out to me at bishop@calpacumc.org.