[Please Note: The following letter is being re-sent, as we have heard that the original did not reach everyone. Also, the resource pdf and video at the end of the letter regarding the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) should still be relevant, as an application can be readied for submission to your bank as soon as additional funding is approved by Congress.]

Dear Pastors of the Slovak Zion Synod,

Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!

You have been in my thoughts and prayers, especially during the recent weeks of uncertainty and anxiety surrounding the Coronavirus. I have been following your ministries as you have responded to the changes and challenges confronting you in your unique situations. I thank God for you and for your diligence in providing for the spiritual care of your congregations and the communities in which you reside; you have been nimble and creative in feeding your flocks, while being mindful of those most vulnerable among you. You have addressed the needs of your congregations, making use of not only well-known methods of reaching out while maintaining physical distance, but by expanding into the use of technologies new to you.

On Maundy Thursday, we remembered Jesus’ command that we love one another; you have shown that love in many and various ways to your flock, your families, and those around you. The Triduum focused our gaze on the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus; during those three days we proclaimed the sacrificial and saving work of Christ, for us and for our salvation, and saw how our baptism connects us to Jesus’ death and resurrection and newness of life.

Lent, Holy Week, and Easter have always been times of intense and deep spiritual engagement of pastors with their congregations. However, I know that this year has been deeper and more intense for you. I worry about you and don’t want you to be casualties of compassion fatigue, sickness, or worse. And, while you remain in my prayers as you continue to minister while being physically distant from those in your spiritual care, please also heed my advice that you will now take some time to care for your own physical, emotional, and spiritual health. While Christ calls you to service in his name and to empty your cup for the sake of others, please be mindful that the cup not be depleted; please take some time to rest awhile and make sure your cup is physically, emotionally, and spiritually refilled. I know very well how things can get in the way of this (and perhaps, this bishop is also preaching to herself); nevertheless, please use these days after Easter for sabbath rest and care, and pace yourselves as you go forward in ministry.

For your information, plans are underway for us to meet as clergy in our conferences in the next week or so; this will be for the purpose of checking-in with each other, and “being” with each other during this new reality. I look forward to seeing/hearing you in these online/call-in meetings. More details will follow as they are available.

Also, if you have not already seen this resource via ELCA or Portico, attached to this letter is an information sheet and video regarding the PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) loans (which can become forgivable grants), for which congregations are eligible.

May the coming days bring you a sense of peace and wholeness in our risen Lord!
Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!

+Bishop Wilma

Click here for the video | Click here for the PDF download

Bishop Wilma S. Kucharek
Slovak Zion Synod—ELCA