Region 6 Parochial Report Super Bowl

It is that time again: time to submit Form A & C parochial reports! These reports help the Synod and the ELCA make crucial ministry decisions and we need your input.

In the spirit of Super Bowl LV, the Northeastern Ohio Synod has challenged the Region 6 Synods in a Parochial Report Super Bowl, a friendly competition to see which Region 6 Synod can submit the highest percentage of reports. We are playing for pride and the not-yet-coveted Parochial Report Trophy. Congregations must submit their Form A & C Reports by 12pm on February 6, 2021 to be included in the Super Bowl of Reports. The Northeastern Ohio Synod will announce the winner at half-time on Super Bowl Sunday. Form A & C Reports can be completed on the ELCA’s website. Learn More.




Coronavirus Resources

Like much of the global population, the ELCA is concerned about the Coronavirus, also known as COVID19. With the outbreaks in the United States and around the world being classified as a pandemic, congregations and houses of worship need to be well-informed and well-prepared. Some sources of information that can and should be trusted are the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and locally, the State of Michigan. Both sources release the most up-to-date information on the disease, and both have developed a variety of resources regarding prevention and response.

The virus is spread through droplets, which means that it is passed through direct contact. For example, if someone coughs into their hand, then touches your hand, and you touch your mouth, you would be at risk of infection. Symptoms of the virus include fever, cough, and shortness of breath, to varying degrees. Increasing our care around health and hygiene and practicing social distancing will keep the risk low and decrease the chance of a major outbreak.

News

  • UPDATED 1/25/21: On January 22, The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services extended its epidemic order requiring mask and limiting some indoor gatherings. Bishop Satterlee continues to recommend the suspension of indoor in-person worship. Learn More.

  • UPDATED 1/16/21: Due to both COVID-19 and safety concerns, our Governor’s Office is strongly suggesting churches do not gather for in-person worship through at least January 24. Bishop Satterlee continues to recommend the suspension of in-person worship.

  • UPDATED 12/7/20: On December 7, The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services extended the three-week pause on indoor social gatherings and other group activities until December 20, 2020. Learn More. Bishop Satterlee continues to recommend the suspension of indoor in-person worship.

  • UPDATED 11/16/20: On November 15, The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued a new emergency order that enacts a three-week pause on indoor social gatherings and other group activities in an effort to curb the rapid increase in COVID-19 infection rates. Learn More.

  • UPDATED 11/5/20: Bishop Satterlee has issued a letter in response to the recent increase of COVID-19 cases in Michigan and is recommending the suspension of indoor in-person worship starting November 15, 2020. Read Letter.

  • UPDATED 10/21/20: We are sharing a COVID-19 Risk Assessment Tools that was developed by the Georgia Institute of Technology in partnership with researchers from Applied Bioinformatics Laboratory and Stanford University. This interactive tool shows the the risk level of attending an event, given the event size and location. The risk level is the estimated chance (0-100%) that at least 1 COVID-19 positive individual will be present at an event and is shown by county. Learn More.

  • UPDATED 10/7/20: Bishop Satterlee and the Synod Staff continue to work remotely. The ELCA Churchwide Organization will not consider returning to the office until January 2021.

  • UPDATED 8/26/20: The North/West Lower Michigan Synod is pleased to provide Education Partnership Grants to facilitate congregations in assisting students, families, and educators for the 2020-2021 school year. Learn More and Apply.

  • UPDATED 8/21/20: Resourceful Servants, an initiative of the ELCA and its ministry partners, has developed two Savings Matching programs to address these financial challenges. These programs partner with ELCA rostered ministers to encourage a habit of saving and provide matching funding to more rapidly grow emergency savings and retirement accounts. Learn More.

  • UPDATED 8/11/20: During this time of social distancing, many congregation leaders are asking how they can utilize technology to conduct meetings necessary for the business of the congregation. The North/West Lower Michigan Synod has provided an FAQ document with common questions related to conducting a remote meeting. Learn More.

  • UPDATED 7/30/20: Governor Whitmer has signed two new executive orders, the first amends Michigan’s Safe Start Order and the second issues revised workplace safeguards. Starting July 31, statewide indoor gatherings will be limited to 10 people or less and, across most of the state, outdoor gatherings will be limited to 100 people or less. Bishop Satterlee has issued a letter in response to these new orders. Read Full Letter.
  • Letter Clarification: In a previous version of this letter, Bishop Satterlee stated that “the ELCA does not support civil disobedience.” To avoid ambiguity, it has been changed to “the ELCA does not support civil disobedience in this matter.” The ELCA has a fundamental commitment to the rule of the law but acknowledges there are some cases when non-violent civil disobedience may be warranted. These cases are typically when government consistently acts against the public good or violates fundamental rights. 

  • UPDATED 7/28/20: Today, the number of deaths from the COVID-19 virus in the United States surpassed 150,000. Bishop Satterlee is heartbroken at the loss of life caused by this pandemic and invites you to join him in remembering those who have died and their families in prayer. As soon as he’s able to return to his computer, Bishop Satterlee will be sharing his experience having surgery during this pandemic and experiencing the extraordinary ministry of the Church while sheltering at home. Into your hands, O merciful Savior, we commend your servants. Acknowledge, we humbly beseech you, sheep of your own fold, lambs of your own flock, sinners of your own redeeming. Receive them into the arms of your mercy, into the blessed hope of everlasting rest, and into the glorious company of the saints in light. Amen.

  • UPDATED 7/10/20: Today, Governor Whitmer issued an executive order requiring individuals to wear a mask in all public indoor spaces. According to this order, those who are officiating at a religious service do not need to wear a mask; those in attendance are strongly encouraged to wear a mask. Learn More.

  • UPDATED 6/30/20: Today, Governor Whitmer announced the MI Safe Schools Roadmap which explains the required and strongly recommended safety protocols to keep school communities safe based on the status of the coronavirus. Learn More.

  • UPDATED 6/29/20: Many congregations in our Synod are beginning to think about plans for Sunday School. We invite you to join Bishop Satterlee and Pastor Haley Vay Beaman for a conversation about things congregational leaders should consider as they prepare and plan for the fall. This Zoom conversation will be held on July 18 at 11am ET. Register Now.

  • UPDATED 6/24/20: The ELCA has provided a survey template to help congregational leaders check in with their members and assess how their congregations are feeling about return-to-worship options. This resource includes suggested survey questions and information on setting up the survey using SurveyMonkey or Google Forms. Learn More.

  • UPDATED 6/22/20: During the White House National Faith Leaders Call, it was announced that a supply of face coverings will be available at no cost for community-based organizations through the Department of Health and Human Services. ELCA Advocacy staff reports that it could be up to 500 face coverings per ministry. Learn More. 
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  • The ELCA has partnered with Church Mutual Insurance Company, S.I. to bring you safeguards and recommendations around Safely Returning to Worship.  Please follow the link below to view a Webinar Church Mutual created with that thought in mind. Watch Now.
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  • As congregations begin to return to their church buildings, we have received questions about when the Synod Staff will resume in-person congregational visits. We invite you to read Bishop Satterlee’s letter. 

  • UPDATED 6/10/20: In accordance with Executive Order 2020-97, businesses in the State of Michigan must take precautions to safeguard their workers. This includes developing a COVID-19 response plan, requiring the use of masks and social distancing, conducting daily entry screenings, and increasing facility cleaning. Learn More.
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  • The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has provided signs for businesses to use in their buildings, including signs about wearing masks, symptoms of COVID-19, guidelines for social distancing and more. Download Signs.

  • UPDATED 6/8/20: On June 5, Governor Whitmer moved two regions of the state (Upper Peninsula and Traverse Area) to Stage 5 of the MI Safe Start Plan effective June 10. In these regions only, outdoor gatherings of less than 250 and indoor gatherings of less than 50 are now allowed as long as participants are wearing masks and maintaining social distancing. 
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  • Resources to help congregations make their reopening plans are located in the “Reopening Resources” section towards the bottom of the page.

  • UPDATED 6/1/20: ELCA World Hunger has provided a resource fact sheet specific to Michigan with information on unemployment, SNAP benefits, utilities and rent assistance, and more. Learn More.
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  • On June 1, Governor Whitmer lifted the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Order and moved the entire state of Michigan into Phase 4 of the MI Safe Start Plan. As part of this plan, outside gatherings of 100 people or less are allowed as long as all participants are wearing masks and practicing social distancing. Indoor gatherings of 10 people or more are still prohibited. In order to give congregations time to plan and prepare, Bishop Satterlee is maintaining his recommendation that congregations suspend all in-person worship services through June 21. 
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  • To assist congregations in planning for re-opening, Bishop Satterlee will be hosting a Zoom discussion for Rostered Ministers and Congregational Leaders on Wednesday, June 3 at 3:00pm ET. If you are interested in attending, please fill out the RSVP form. A Zoom link will be emailed to all who registered on Tuesday evening. 

  • UPDATED 5/29/20: For reference, we are sharing some reopening plans from congregations around our Synod. View them in the Reopening Resources section below.

  • UPDATED 5/27/20: Today, the number of deaths from the COVID-19 virus in the United States topped 100,000. Bishop Satterlee invites you to join him in prayer in remembering all those we have lost. Watch Video.

  • UPDATED 5/26/20: For reference, the State of Michigan shares MI Safe Start: A Plan to Re-engage Michigan’s Economy. It includes information about the stages of re-opening, the division of regions, and additional resources. Review Document.

  • UPDATED 5/22/20: Today, Governor Whitmer extended the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order to June 12. In keeping with the Governor’s order, Bishop Satterlee is extending his recommendation to suspend in-person worship through June 21. Yesterday, Bishop Satterlee issued a letter with information about the recent allowance of gatherings of ten people or less. We invite you to read that letter and view additional information in the “Resources” section below.  

  • UPDATED 5/21/20: Today, Governor Whitmer provided additional details about re-opening the state of Michigan. This included an announcement that statewide gatherings of ten people or less are allowed, as long as all gathered are practicing social distancing and wearing masks. This new announcement does not replace the current “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order, which is in effect until May 28. Bishop Satterlee is continuing to recommend the suspension of in-person worship through June 7 at the earliest. Read Letter.

  • UPDATED 5/13/20: The ELCA Churchwide Office has provided updated guidance and considerations for congregations as they think about returning to in-person worship. View Document.

  • UPDATED 5/7/20: Today, Governor Whitmer extended the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order to May 28, 2020. This order continues to direct Michiganders to stay at home unless they are members of the critical infrastructure workforce, performing tasks necessary to their health, such as going to the hospital or grocery store, or exercising.
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  • In keeping with the Governor’s order, Bishop Satterlee is extending his recommendation that congregations suspend all in-person worship services and weekly in-person gatherings to May 28 and is strongly advising congregations do not return to in-person worship through May 31.

  • UPDATED 5/6/20: On May 5, Chelsey Satterlee, Communications Director, attended a meeting with the Minneapolis Area Synod featuring Dr. Michael Osterholm, an an infectious disease epidemiologist, professor, and director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research Policy at the University of Minnesota. He has appeared on numerous news networks and has become a leading voice during this pandemic. Dr. Osterholm discussed the COVID-19 Pandemic and recommendations for re-opening congregations. She provides a brief recap of this meeting. Watch Now.
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  • The full meeting with Dr. Osterholm was recorded and can be viewed here.
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  • Dr. Osterholm recommended reviewing these resources:
  • Yesterday, the American Choral Directors Association hosted a webinar discussing the near-term future of singing. The experts on that panel have stated that singing together in public will not be safe until there is a vaccine for COVID-19 or a treatment that is 95% effective. Singing projects the aerosolized virus much farther (up to 27 feet, in some studies), and when singing we inhale more deeply, thus drawing the virus more deeply into our lungs. Watch Full Webinar.
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  • For reference, an article from Dr. Heather R. Nelson, on Singing, the Church, and COVID-19.

  • UPDATED 5/4/20: The North/West Lower Michigan Synod has pledged $10,000 from our Disaster Relief Fund and is partnering with the ELCA to award grant funds to assist with congregations meeting immediate needs in the community. Learn More and Apply.
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  • The ELCA Federal Credit Union has been approved to be an SBA-certified lender for the Paycheck Protection Program loans. Read a message from Luis Reyes of the ELCA Federal Credit Union. All ELCA congregations and ministries can apply for PPP loans through the ELCA Federal Credit Union; visit us at www.elcafcu/ppp.

  • UPDATED 5/2/20: Today, Bishop Satterlee hosted a Zoom Meeting with updated information about things congregational leaders should consider as they plan to reopen their church buildings. Watch the Recording.

  • UPDATED 5/1/20: For reference, the Western Michigan Diocese of the Episcopal Church shared a document with information and practices  for how Episcopalians in the State of Michigan will undertake re-entry after the current hiatus from in-person worship.

  • UPDATED 4/24/20: Today, Governor Whitmer extended the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order to May 15, 2020. This order continues to direct Michiganders to stay at home unless they are members of the critical infrastructure workforce, performing tasks necessary to their health, such as going to the hospital or grocery store, or exercising. In addition, this order instructs Michiganders to continue practicing social distancing and wear a mask or face covering when in public spaces. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has provided resources on making cloth masks at home. The DHH Mask Project has shared a tutorial on how to make a make with a clear section to assist those who are deaf or hard of hearing read lips. ClearMask is also offering pre-orders on clear face masks.
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  • In keeping with the Governor’s order, Bishop Satterlee is extending his recommendation that congregations suspend all in-person worship services and weekly in-person gatherings to May 15 and is strongly advising congregations do not return to in-person worship through May 17. Read Letter.

  • UPDATED 4/21/20: The ELCA Churchwide Office has provided updated guidance on tracking online worship attendance. Learn More. 
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  • Bishop Satterlee will be hosting a Zoom meeting for congregational leaders on April 25 at 11am to discuss things congregational leaders should consider as they plan to return to and reopen their church buildings. If you are interested in attending, please fill out the RSVP form. Space is limited but the meeting will be recorded for those who are unable to attend.

  • UPDATED 4/17/20: Earlier today, the North/West Lower Michigan Synod hosted a Crisis/Stress Management Briefing for Rostered Leaders led by an ER Social Worker from Spectrum Health and Synod staff. A recording of this briefing is now available: Watch Briefing.
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  • If you are interested in additional resources about stress management, view additional resources on managing stress and keeping yourself mentally healthy, or reach out to Synod Staff. 
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  • In light of the current COVID-19 pandemic, Living Water Ministries has cancelled its 2020 Summer Season. Read their letter and FAQ for more information: elcalivingwater.com/covid19cancellation/

  • UPDATED 4/9/20: Governor Whitmer has extended the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order through the end of April. Learn More.

  • UPDATED 4/6/20: Bishop Satterlee has shared a letter on Holy Communion in a Time of Crisis. Read Letter.
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  • Rev. David Sprang has shared a letter on adjusting to the new realities of the COVID-19 pandemic with resources on digital worship, online giving and stewardship, faith formation, and more. Read Letter.
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  • Portico has shared the following resources: A new hub on myPortico details financial and health resources specifically related to COVID-19, including updates on how the CARES Act can provide financial relief for congregations, telemedicine and emotional health support options for ELCA-Primary and ELCA Medicare-Primary plan members, answers about managing or adjusting flexible spending accounts, and financial resources from the ELCA Retirement Plan Recordkeeping Services Provider, Fidelity. They also share a 16-minute video (filmed March 26), which offers perspective on the investment markets and how we navigate volatility, ways to remain emotionally grounded as retirement account balances fluctuate, resources Portico offers to help you through these uncertain times.

  • UPDATED 4/4/20: We are sharing a new COVID-19 Resource Guidance Document that includes information, guidance and recommendations for leaders of congregations within the North/West Lower Michigan (NWLM) Synod as they manage resources and ministries during the on-going COVID-19 pandemic. Topics include the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), Michigan’s Executive Order 2020-21 (“Stay at Home”), expanded unemployment benefits, and helpful references from the ELCA Churchwide Organization. Learn More.

  • UPDATED 3/27/20: Presiding Bishop Eaton shared a letter detailing the ELCA’s comprehensive response to COVID-19. The churchwide office has three new approaches designed to provide several levels of support for our most vulnerable congregations and ministries. These three approaches are Daily Bread Grants, Here to Serve, and the COVID-19 Response Appeal. Read the full letter.
  • The ELCA Mission Investment Fund has resources that can provide some much-needed help to congregations, ministries, and members that many be experiencing financial hardship at this time. Learn More.
  • Rev. David Sprang, Assistant to the Bishop and Director of Evangelical Mission has complied stewardship resources for congregations during this time of uncertainty. Learn More.
  • Rev. Beth Birkholz, Director of Congregational Engagement for Samaritas, shares an update on Samaritas and a sermon for daily or weekly devotions.

  • UPDATED 3/23/20: Governor Whitmer signed an executive order directing Michiganders to stay at home unless they are members of the critical infrastructure workforce, performing tasks necessary to their health, such as going to the hospital or grocery store, or exercising. Bishop Satterlee again implores congregations to suspend all in-person worship services and weekly in-person gatherings for the next eight weeks, or until May 10. Read the full letter.

  • UPDATED 3/19/20: Given the ongoing spread of the COVID-19 virus and the continually updating recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), Bishop Satterlee is joining ELCA and ecumenical colleagues in strongly urging congregations to suspend all in-person worship services and weekly in-person gatherings for the next eight weeks, or until May 10. Read the full letter.

  • UPDATED 3/18/20: After prayerful reflection and in keeping with the recommendations of the Office of the Secretary and the Office of the Presiding Bishop, Bishop Satterlee recommended and Synod Council affirmed that we will NOT gather for Synod Assembly May 14-16, 2020 in Mount Pleasant. For more information, please read the letter from Bishop Craig A. Satterlee and Christine Allen, Secretary of the North/West Lower Michigan Synod.

  • The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) is pleased to announce that an online map has been developed for families to find locations where meals are being provided during this period of school closure. The map can be found at: www.michigan.gov/meetupeatup, and will be updated twice each day during the closure period.

  • UPDATED 3/16/20: Governor Whitmer has also ordered the closure of all K-12 school buildings, and bars and restaurants for dine-in service. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is recommending the suspension of gatherings of 50 people or more for the next eight weeks. President Trump has asked that people do not gather in groups of 10 or more. In light of these mandates and recommendations, we continue to encourage congregations to suspend in-person worship gatherings. Read Bishop Satterlee’s March 16 Update.

  • ELCA Coaching Ministries is offering a weekly opportunity for leaders to gather via ZOOM (Web Conference) in conversation around various topics related to: Being the Church in the Time of COVID-19. Learn More.

  • UPDATED 3/13/20: Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has temporarily prohibited assemblies of 250 people or more beginning Friday, March 13 and ending on Sunday, April 5 at 5:00pm and is urging community groups and businesses to consider cancelling gatherings or events with more than 100 people.

Resources

Opportunities for Online Worship 

  • Many congregations are hosting weekly worship via live stream on Facebook. Check with your congregation or follow us for more information. 
  • Bishop Satterlee preached sermons for Holy Week and Easter. Videos are available on our YouTube channel. Bishop Satterlee, Rev. Rosanne Anderson, and Rev. David Sprang will be preaching for the first three weeks of Easter. Videos will be posted on our YouTube channel.
  • If you are looking to stream your worship service, the ELCA has provided a starter guide. 
  • We also have information on getting started with Facebook Live, YouTube Live, and Zoom. Review additional Live Streaming Resources.
  • Bishop Satterlee has shared a letter on Holy Communion in a Time of Crisis. Read Letter.
  • Rev. David Sprang has shared a letter on adjusting to the new realities of the COVID-19 pandemic with resources on digital worship, online giving and stewardship, faith formation, and more. Read Letter.

Resources for Virtual Meetings and Gatherings

Maintaining Congregational Stewardship 
During this time, please be mindful of your ongoing stewardship with your congregation. Remember that day-to-day operation of our churches often relies on the ongoing gifts from the congregation.

  • Consider setting up automatic withdrawals to be sent to the church.
  • Consider using an online donation system.
  • Consider mailing in your donations (being mindful of your procedures for money-handling). 
  • If you are looking to set up online giving, the ELCA has a list of preferred vendors.
  • Rev. David Sprang, Director of Evangelical Mission has compiled additional resources on stewardship during this time.
  • The Generosity Project has provided a series of lessons on how to encourage conversation and support households in their role as God’s stewards and financial managers during this time of economic crisis and fear.

Resources for Sunday School

Resources for Reopening Church Buildings

  • We are sharing a COVID-19 Risk Assessment Tools that was developed by the Georgia Institute of Technology in partnership with researchers from Applied Bioinformatics Laboratory and Stanford University. This interactive tool shows the the risk level of attending an event, given the event size and location. The risk level is the estimated chance (0-100%) that at least 1 COVID-19 positive individual will be present at an event and is shown by county. Learn More.

  • The ELCA has provided a survey template to help congregational leaders check in with their members and assess how their congregations are feeling about return-to-worship options. This resource includes suggested survey questions and information on setting up the survey using SurveyMonkey or Google Forms. Learn More.

  • In accordance with Executive Order 2020-97, businesses in the State of Michigan must take precautions to safeguard their workers. This includes developing a COVID-19 response plan, requiring the use of masks and social distancing, conducting daily entry screenings, and increasing facility cleaning. Learn More.

  • The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has provided signs for businesses to use in their buildings, including signs about wearing masks, symptoms of COVID-19, guidelines for social distancing and more. Download Signs.

  • The ELCA has partnered with Church Mutual Insurance Company, S.I. to bring you safeguards and recommendations around Safely Returning to Worship.  Please follow the link below to view a Webinar Church Mutual created with that thought in mind. Watch Now.

  • Bishop Satterlee hosted a Zoom Meeting on things Congregational Leaders should consider as they plan to reopen their church buildings: Watch the Recording. He also hosted a follow-up discussion: Watch the Recording.

  • Bishop Satterlee has shared a letter on Holy Communion in a Time of Crisis. Read Letter.

  • The ELCA Churchwide Office has provided updated guidance and considerations for congregations as they think about returning to in-person worship. View Document.

  • Chelsey Satterlee, Communications Director, attended a meeting with the Minneapolis Area Synod featuring Dr. Michael Osterholm, an an infectious disease epidemiologist, professor, and director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research Policy at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Osterholm discussed the COVID-19 Pandemic and recommendations for re-opening congregations. She provides a brief recap of this meeting. Watch Now. The full meeting with Dr. Osterholm was recorded and can be viewed here.

  • The American Choral Directors Association hosted a webinar discussing the near-term future of singing. The experts on that panel have stated that singing together in public will not be safe until there is a vaccine for COVID-19 or a treatment that is 95% effective. Singing projects the aerosolized virus much farther (up to 27 feet, in some studies), and when singing we inhale more deeply, thus drawing the virus more deeply into our lungs. Watch Full Webinar. For reference, an article from Dr. Heather R. Nelson, on Singing, the Church, and COVID-19.

  • For reference, the Western Michigan Diocese of the Episcopal Church shared a document with information and practices  for how Episcopalians in the State of Michigan will undertake re-entry after the current hiatus from in-person worship.

  • Rev. David Sprang has shared additional resources about planning and responding to medical emergencies. These resources are located in the “Disaster Planning and Response” section of the Resources for Congregations page of our website.

Reopening Plans from Congregations in the North/West Lower Michigan Synod

As congregations work on their reopening plans, we are sharing some plans from congregations around our Synod as examples:

Resources for Stress Management

  • The North/West Lower Michigan Synod hosted a Crisis/Stress Management Briefing for Rostered Leaders led by an ER Social Worker from Spectrum Health and Synod staff. A recording of this briefing is now available: Watch Briefing.

  • Portico has a new hub on myPortico  with telemedicine and emotional health support options for ELCA-Primary and ELCA Medicare-Primary plan members.

Resources on the CARES Act, PPP Loans, FFCRA Act, and Financial Planning

  • There is a new hub on myPortico with updates on how the CARES Act can provide financial relief for congregations, answers about managing or adjusting flexible spending accounts, and financial resources from the ELCA Retirement Plan Recordkeeping Services Provider, Fidelity. They also have a video, which offers perspective on the investment markets and how we navigate volatility, ways to remain emotionally grounded as retirement account balances fluctuate, and resources Portico offers to help you through these uncertain times.

  • The North/West Lower Michigan Synod has a COVID-19 Resource Guidance Document that includes information, guidance and recommendations for leaders of congregations as they manage resources and ministries during the on-going COVID-19 pandemic. Topics include the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), Michigan’s Executive Order 2020-21 (“Stay at Home”), expanded unemployment benefits, and helpful references from the ELCA Churchwide Organization. Learn More.

Resources for Outreach Ministries
Based on current CDC Guidelines, we recommend: 

  • No more than ten people gathered for preparation or distribution at any time. 
  • Avoid the use of the church building for food preparation or distribution. 
  • Distribution should be “curb-side” only. 
  • Consider delivering goods, rather than having a central point of group distribution. 

Resources from the ELCA Churchwide Office

Resources from the State of Michigan

Prevention

The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, the CDC always recommends these everyday preventive actions to arrest the spread of respiratory diseases:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces, using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • The CDC recommends everyone wear a mask or face covering when in public spaces. They have provided resources for making cloth masks at home.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

In this time of concern, we ask that you join us in prayer: Merciful God, we know that your heart overflows with compassion for your whole creation. Pour out your Spirit on all people living with this illness, or who are living with anxiety about this illness, for which there is not yet a cure. Be with those who tend to the needs of the sick. Strengthen us all in body and spirit, console us when anxious, comfort us in grief and hearten us in discouragement. Help to remind us that you claim us as your own, and are with us wherever we go. Through Christ, our healer and Lord. Amen.




Houses of Worship Security Resources

In an effort to provide resources that are focused on safety, security, and preparedness, the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has released the CISA Houses of Worship Security Self-Assessment Tool.  This new resource provides the faith-based community with an easy to use assessment tool that produces a formatted report with resources which can be used to identify and address your facility’s security concerns.

This tool along with other faith-based resources are located on the Faith Based Organization-Houses of Worship (FBO-HOW) resource page. This webpage provides a single point of entry to CISA guidance and resources designed to inform your security-based decisions.  This continually updated page includes assessments, trainings, planning, exercises, and other materials focused on the mitigation of a wide range of manmade threats (e.g., bombing, active shooter, vehicle ramming).




Seminary Debt Reduction Assistance

Applications are available for this year’s Seminary Debt Reduction Assistance grants! These $2000 grants are open to rostered ministers within 15 years of their ordination. Grants are to be applied to the principal of a rostered minister’s seminary student loans. We are grateful for the contributions we have received so far and are confident that we will be able to award three grants this year.

All applications must be received by February 28, 2021.

Learn More and Apply.




Form A Congregational Report Guidance

The Churchwide Office of the Treasurer offers guidance specifically related to the completion of Form A Congregational Report: 

For congregations that received a PPP Loan that has not yet been forgiven: 
1. Record the amount of the loan that was received on Line 17e as a cash receipt 
2. Record the loan as debt on Line 19

For congregations that received a a PPP Loan that has been forgiven: 
1. Record the amount of the loan that was received on Line 17e as a cash receipt.  




Message on Church Threats

Dear Friends in Christ, 

Peace be with you! 

Earlier today, notices were posted on social media alerting congregations of a potential threat of violence possibly taking place this weekend or next week. I notified our rostered ministers of these concerns this afternoon. After conversations with regional colleagues and the Conference of Bishops, it appears this alarm stems not from a specific threat, but as a result of the highly anxious times we live in. However, due to both COVID-19 and safety concerns, our Governor’s Office is strongly suggesting churches do not gather for in-person worship through at least January 24.

As we continue in these times filled with anxiety and uncertainty, we must remain vigilant for the safety of our leaders, members, and the general public. I strongly agree with the Governor’s Office’s suggestion and continue to recommend the suspension of in-person worship beyond January 24. 

As I write this email and turn to prayer, I am recalling the Gospel story of Jesus calming the storm and giving thanks that he is in the boat with us and so we do not need to be afraid. In looking towards the coming week, I invite you to pray for our nation, for our elected officials, and for those sworn to protect us. Please also know that you are held in my prayers.

Peace,
The Rev. Craig Alan Satterlee, Ph.D., Bishop




Prayer for our Country

As more violence is threatened this weekend and we look towards next week, we pray for our country, for our state, and for our elected officials, including President Trump, Vice President Pence, President-Elect Biden, and Vice President-Elect Harris. We pray that they will be surrounded by wisdom and peace. We also pray for the City of Lansing, the home of our State Capitol, for Governor Whitmer and our State Legislature, and for the local and state police, the National Guard, and all those who protect us. We pray for an end to violence and for a peaceful transition in our nation’s Capitol. 




Annual Rostered Minister Reports

2020 Annual Rostered Minister Report forms are now available! All rostered ministers are expected to complete and return a report to Bishop Satterlee.

To complete the annual report form, please download the appropriate form and save it to your computer before completing it. Once completed, please email the report to Bishop Satterlee.




ELMM Winter Course Offerings

Equipping Leaders for Mission and Ministry (ELMM) is excited to announce their winter course offerings:

  • The Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts, January 15-16, 2021 with Professor Wally Taylor
  • The Gospel of John, February 5-6, 2021 with Professor Wally Taylor
  • The Letters of Paul, February 26-27, 2021 with Professor Wally Taylor

​Course descriptions and registration information can be found on the ELMM website. Learn More.




A Message from Bishop Satterlee on Email Spoofing

 

In the past few weeks, congregations and synods around the ELCA have experienced another round of email spoofing and scams. Given the holiday season, it is likely that these scams will be more prevalent in the coming weeks.

In these scams, bad actors create email new addresses and pretend to be people you know (ex: Bishop Satterlee or your congregation’s pastor). Oftentimes the email addresses are created using Gmail. Anyone can create a Gmail account using any name. Bishop Satterlee does not have a Gmail account and will not contact you in this way.

As part of this email scam, the bad actors send an email asking for help “discreetly” or “privately”. These scams ultimately result in the bad actors asking you to send them money or gift cards. Recent scams have focused on asking people for gift cards to use as Christmas presents for the Synod Staff.

Again, Bishop Satterlee and the Synod Staff will not contact you in this way. Please do not respond to these emails or send any money or gift cards. 

We have posted additional information about email spoofing, email scams, and internet security on the Synod website. We invite you to read these resources regularly. If you suspect you have received a fraudulent email from Bishop Satterlee or a member of the Synod Staff, please contact the Synod Office and do not send any money or gift cards. Review Resources: https://www.mittensynod.org/internet-security/