March 12, 2020

Dear Pastors of the Arkansas Annual Conference,

Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

As you are aware, I made the decision yesterday to cancel all Arkansas Conference events, meetings and programs until further notice. I did so because of a deep concern for people’s welfare. While there’s not much I can control about the behavior of others, I can eliminate at least some contact between people, which is absolutely necessary when dealing with a pandemic.

I have attached a link to a short article “Here’s Why Everybody’s Talking About ‘Flattening the Curve’” along these lines that I hope you will read. While it’s not from the CDC or a medical journal, it lays out in straight-forward language why it’s so important for people to avoid large crowds.

I am aware of all the things you are trying to balance; including peoples’ fear, a deep desire to join together in worship, the possible impact COVID-19 will have on giving and how you can be in ministry with those who are struggling. Many of you are wondering whether you should hold worship services. While I will not make decisions for your church, I do believe you need to seriously consider not holding worship or any large meetings this coming week. However, whatever you decide, I have all the faith in the world that you will make the best decision for your situation.

While there will be inconveniences and major adjustments in the weeks to come, this time will also provide your congregation with wonderful opportunities to be in ministry with people in new and important ways that share the Good News of Jesus and his love. Bottom line, we will need to work together – with a great deal of grace through the presence of the Holy Spirit – to address this adaptive challenge.

I want to remind you that you can access the latest information about steps your congregation can take on our conference webpage at https://arumc.org/2020/03/recommended-practices-for-protecting-you-and-your-community-from-covid-19/.

I continue to pray boldly for you, your congregation and our world.

Grace and peace,
Gary E. Mueller