Transcript of Bishop Goff's Remarks for Clergy Call June 23

Opening Prayer

Welcome to our clergy webinar for week 15.  Our focus this afternoon is Clergy Self Care During the Time of Pandemic, and Beyond.  Our presenter is Dr. Jessica Young Brown, Assistant Professor of Counseling and Practical Theology at the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University.  She is also Director of the Barry Young Center for Ministry Formation there.  We will spend as much time this afternoon as we are able with Dr. Brown.  To make that possible, we will not address questions and answers about outdoor worship and phased regathering on this webinar.  If you have pressing questions, post them in Q and A or send them to Mark Eastham and we will answer them offline. 

Before we turn to Dr. Brown, I offer two brief reflections.

  1. A few of you led outdoor, in-person worship this past weekend, and a number more will offer outdoor in-person worship beginning this coming weekend. I’ve seen photos and heard stories from a small handful of congregations.  I invite your stories about what you learned doing outdoor worship, about what you will tweak for the future or about how people responded.  You may post these in chat or send them to Mark so that we can share stories widely.


  1. Many of you continue to ask about pastoral visitations. Some hospitals now permit visits from clergy, though requirements and regulations vary from place to place.  Many nursing homes and retirement or assisted living communities remain closed to visitors.  If you feel called to do pastoral visits, you may use your discretion and do so as long as you are not putting yourself, your family or those you visit at risk. To reduce risk as much as possible: 
  • Wear a mask.
  • Keep proper distancing.
  • Keep visits brief. 
  • Visit outdoors, on a porch or backyard, if possible.
  • Follow all directives and guidelines of the facility you are visiting, if that is the case. 
  • Communion may not be shared during these visits, with the exception of end of life visits.  In that case, communion may be brought to a dying person one time.  In addition to the other guidelines, be sure to wear gloves when you place the wafer in the hands of the recipient.  You may anoint the dying with oil.  Again, it would be best to wear gloves for that.  They don’t need to be surgical gloves for that brief touch. 
  • Some of you will ask if this guidance applies to lay visitors. If you have more visits to make than the clergy can accomplish, you may enlist a small number of your team to assist.  Do some training with them about what brief pastoral visits look like with masks and distancing, with no touching and no communion.  Determine carefully who might be at lowest risk to do visits, and who should not make visits because of the risks they would face.  Remember that the greatest risk of all will be to the persons visited and to their households, especially if they have been isolating and not had people come to their home in recent months.  Some of those persons may prefer not to be visited in person, but to continue to receive pastoral care from you via phone calls or FaceTime or whatever platform you use. 

This guidance will be sent to you in the weekly e-mail tomorrow and will be posted on the website. 

Next week we’ll share stories and experiences about outdoor worship and pastoral visits. 

Now, we take a bit of sabbath time to focus on ourselves and on self care. 

Dr. Brown. 

Click here for pastoral visits guidelines

Dr. Brown's slides
Dr. Brown resources and reading: Thinking in Threes / The Purpose of Rest / Self Care Assessment 

Q & A and resources referenced