Adjusting to the 'new normal' of COVID-19

March 31, 2020
To the people of the Mountain Sky Conference:

Greetings in love and light!

We are in the midst of a crisis. Our communities are taking precautions to mitigate the effects of the pandemic COVID-19. You are not alone. God is with us.

It’s helpful for us to see through the lens of disaster response. This event (or series of events) is currently causing us trauma. Everyone is learning new ways to live. This is bigger than each one of us. So, it’s super important for us as laity and clergy to acknowledge that we are part of something bigger. We need to let go of stuff that is extraneous and we need to normalize some new ideas, too.

It's not business as usual. We are called to resist the evil that resides in our desires to fall into old patterns and habits. Everyone you know is learning new ways to live, from your pastors and your parishioners, people living with others and people living alone. There is no perfection available in the moment, though we can move onto perfection together. We’re suggesting we adopt a reflection-action-reflection model of learning for this time. This model suggests we pause whenever we think “I’ve got to do xyz” and reflect by quickly answering: 1. Is it helpful?  2. Is it life-giving? 3. What are the consequences of the action (i.e. unintended consequences)? We are more used to a risk-reward model of living, and we are called to challenge that model in this new season of life together.

We need to be taking care of ourselves so we can help others. We can’t pour from empty vessels. Even Jesus needed time away for prayer and rest. Our spirit relies on our ability to maintain our bodies and minds. Perhaps this pandemic will teach us how to pace ourselves well, as we are forced to slow down and have more thinking time. Pay attention to your needs. If you are symptomatic, call your local nurse hotline. Churches can assist by publishing those connections. Develop a schedule that works for you and your household, and try to live by it as you create a new normal. Eating well, exercising however you are able, and sleeping are going to fuel your body so that your spirit can thrive in this time and for the long-haul.

We need to encourage everyone to socially connect as much as possible without physical connecting. By nature, we are social beings – even those of us who call ourselves introverts. We have a natural need for connection. We are part of the Beloved Community, and the community suggests we support one another with care and concern. We are so blessed in many cases to have access to technology, and some have found ways to do that very well to connect. We also have areas within our conference that don’t have access to the internet, and may have to connect through other mediums at this time, such as the telephone and mail. If you have a HAM radio, we would greatly appreciate your letting us know, as we would like to maintain a database for such things. We find we can break our desire to reach out to someone in person by imagining that we are contagious. This new way of life calls us to open our minds to new possibilities as well. For instance, our parents who don’t naturally like computers have found that they do like video calls with their children and grandchildren. Yes, they had to learn something new. It’s possible.
We need to normalize some new ways of framing our purpose-filled response. We know we struggle as we constantly want “to do” something helpful/purposeful. We have a current need to normalize the response of social distancing as being faith-filled and purposeful. You are doing something for the greater good, just by staying home!

Most of all, know that we are in this together. People care about you and your health and well being. God loves you. Our connection is strong and we will work together.

Sending light and love,

Rev. Gary Haddock and Rev. Dawn Skerritt
Co-Disaster Response Coordinators for the Mountain Sky Conference

Find more information on the Coronavirus News and Resources page