The COVID-19 pandemic has changed all of our lives and replaced the way we have been doing things dramatically. Among the many things I have noticed is the nature of time in social isolation. I have probably been busier than ever, attending to dozens of mini-crises and making more major decisions than ever before for the annual conference. Yet, the pace of time in our lives has slowed down because we cannot go everywhere we want to, nor do everything we need to. It is a conundrum because some of us are busier than ever before, yet we have more time on our hands. It has made me realize that our former “normal” was just to do things fast, quick, in a hurry, running around like chickens with our heads cut off, but not slowing down enough to savor and appreciate that which is around us. The leadership writer Peter Block recently said that “Being in a hurry is just being anxious.” There is plenty of time for all of us, so why do we constantly accelerate the pace? “Safer at Home” has forced some of us to look at time in our lives and come to a new understanding: faster isn’t better!

Here are some things for us to ponder:

  • How has time slowed down for us during this period of “Safer at Home?”
  • What have we learned about our former lives from this slow down?
  • What needs to change when our lives return to our previous lifestyle? Will there be a previous lifestyle in the future?

I continue to be uplifted by the live-streaming and pre-recorded worship sessions that so many of you are doing. Because of this very personal touch you are providing for your churches, we decided against doing a large-scale pre-recorded experience from the whole annual conference. What we did decide is to do very short meditations each day of Holy Week leading to Easter. Each of the District Superintendents will share a short meditation during Holy Week and I will share one for Easter. They will not take the place of your worship experiences, but you may wish to share these with your church. We hope that these will be personally uplifting.

We are also facing a massive world-wide economic turndown and our churches will not escape this new reality. Our annual conference is trying to respond to this in a proactive way and the latest information recently went out to everyone on the steps we are taking to help our churches, clergy and laity. I know the federal stimulus bill is massive and confusing, but we are here to help you navigate this, and please call your District Superintendent, annual conference staff and rely on each other in ministry for help.

We are so grateful to our Cal-Pac Board of Pensions and Health Benefits, who generously will cover 3 months of our clergy pensions expenses, so that our churches will not have to worry about paying for this important benefit to your clergy for the time being. There are many more ways we are trying to help our churches financially, but we ask everyone to still give as much as you can.

Let me close with an inspiration thought for the week.  Rev. Carlo Rapanut, Alaska District Superintendent and Director of Connectional Ministry shared this poem with me recently. I hope it inspires you this week:

Although the church doors are locked
And the baptismal fonts are drained
of their living water-
Although our holy hymns are hushed
And Jesus remains alone in the tabernacle—
Make no mistake.
He is also here among us.
We must be the sacraments
To each other.

–Cameron Bellm

Be the Hope,

Bishop Grant J. Hagiya
Los Angeles Area Resident Bishop