Following last week’s announcement by the Executive Committee of the Commission on the General Conference that the 2020 General Conference will be postponed, the full Commission met last Saturday, March 21, via conference call to determine next steps to take in setting a new date.

After discussing possible alternatives and hearing recommendations from Sara Hotchkiss, Business Manager of the General Conference, the Commission determined that it just wasn’t viable for the General Conference to meet in 2020 as originally planned and elected to work toward setting a date in 2021.
“As we looked at the complex issues that we will need to navigate to reschedule the event and the lack of options available, it does not appear feasible to plan for 2020,” said Kim Simpson, chair of the Commission as well as the lead lay delegate on the Central Texas Conference delegation. “These issues include the undetermined length of the pandemic, uncertainty around travel bans in different areas of the world, delays in processing visas due to government and business closures and other questions.”
In giving direction for next steps, the Commission resolved that holding the event in Minneapolis is a high priority and authorized the business manager to pursue negotiations regarding other dates available at the Minneapolis Convention Center in 2021.  
“The Dakotas-Minnesota Area Host Team has done a wonderful job in partnering with us to prepare for this event, and we are grateful for their willingness to continue to work with us as we move toward a new date,” Simpson said.
“As many groups have cancelled and are being rescheduled, they are given priority by venues they have already been working with,” said Hotchkiss. “Continuing to work with the Minneapolis Convention Center and area hotels will help us avoid competing with other groups for space in those facilities if they did not already have a contract.” 
Once new dates for the General Conference are set and adjustments with current vendors are made, additional information will be sent out to delegations and posted on the conference website and social media pages regarding a timeline and next steps.



March 16, 2020

Dear Church,

     Goodness! What a crazy couple of weeks it has been. One thing they did not teach us about in seminary was “pandemics,” so pastors throughout the world are all serving in a new ministry environment today. The good news for me is that my Navy training was specific to infectious disease and I understand the complexities of pandemics. I have watched and waited for our public and religious leaders to offer guidance on how to proceed in the days ahead. And now, as your Pastor I am sharing what is ahead for the Shepherd of the Valley UMC.

     As we continue to journey through this season of Lent, this may be a more solitary journey than in the past. Many will wisely remain at home out of an abundance of caution. Others will compassionately reach out to offer ministry and care to those in need. All of us need to stay connected and pray for each other; whatever our circumstances.

     First, our approach. It is difficult to be a non-anxious presence in light of current events. We can easily swing back and forth between “What is going to happen to us?” to “We’ll get through this just fine.” As followers of Jesus Christ we are called to a life perfect peace … which is more easily said than done. God assures us that fear does not have to control our lives, and we still hold responsibility—both as individuals, and as a church family in partnership with our wider community.

     We are making decisions with that responsibility in mind, and remembering Paul’s admonishment to “Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus…” This is a time to give consideration to the most vulnerable among us, and join together in assuring the welfare of ourselves and our neighbors.

This is our current plan for ministry as Shepherd of the Valley UMC:

  • All church activities and on-site events are cancelled until April 5th

     (This date may change). There may be a few case-by-case exceptions. As always, we will check voicemail often and Patricia and I are available through email (indioumc.comand


Staying Connected:

As your pastor, I want to make sure that everyone feels connected, even during periods of isolation. With that in mind:

  • Since there will be no on-site worship, during this time we will have ZOOM CHURCH Sunday morning at 10:00 AM. Everyone who has an e-mail on file at the church office will receive an invitation to attend ZOOM CHURCH. Zoom is a platform for meetings and if you have a computer you can just click on the link to join the meeting. If you have a phone you can dial-in to the meeting from anywhere. If you want to receive an invitation please make sure your email address is on file at the church office.

I am also working to make our ZOOM CHURCH available through Facebook and YouTube. This a learning curve for me, but I’m sure we can make it work.

     The Annual Conference Website has links to live and recorded worship services throughout the annual conference … go ahead and give it a try.

And if you do not have computer availability there are plenty of wonderful worship services available on television on Sunday mornings. Sit back and enjoy from your favorite chair.

This website will have information to keep you up-to-date.

I have asked Chip Murdock to add a tab (Inspiration for the Journey) which will contain devotionals, and inspirational contributions from YOU.  If you have something inspirational you want to share with others, please email it to

  • Small groups should decide if they want to meet (face-to-face or digitally).  The small group leaders will stay in touch with their small group members to help everyone stay connected.

For those who are not a part of small group, our plan is to reach out to you by phone to make sure you are well and to see if you have any unmet needs.

  • The Lent Study is postponed until activities onsite resume.


Essential Ministries:

  • There will be no face to face visitation with the sick or home-bound. This is for the protection of the most vulnerable among us. Pastoral staff are available in the event of emergency or end-of-life situations, and we will be connecting with people by phone.

  • Feeding Ministries may continue with extreme precautions to ensure protection of both the servers and those being served.

  • Younger members of the congregation have volunteered to help those who are voluntarily isolated at home. If you need assistance or wish to be a part of this helping ministry please call the church office (760-347-1046)


Last Word:

Easter Sunday is only weeks away. As Believers in Jesus Christ we celebrate the Risen Christ every day through our love and service to others.  While much remains uncertain, we are certain that Christ sustains and empowers us for the future.  Our work as the Church goes on.  More than ever we need both your prayers and your financial support.  We invite you consider making a contribution to the Easter Offering that will go to our Summer Fund to sustain us in ministry during the summer months.

Friends, we will get through this, and God has always been with us. I hope to “see” you in worship on Sunday.

Blessings, Pastor Lynn


More Methodist Thoughts:

We are living in interesting times. Our sense of “normal” has been upended. In spite of the uncertainty in the world today Christians are certain that our God is present and calling us to continue in ministry any way we can.

As of this writing I do not know whether we will be able to celebrate our Easter plans.  Stay tuned for more information!

What can you personally do during this time?[1]

Think of it in terms of John Wesley’s Three General Rules…Do no harm, Do all the good you can, and Stay in love with God.

Do No Harm | Consider carefully the consequences of your actions during this time. Social distancing and good hand hygiene help everyone, not just you. While this may mean some inconveniences, it’s worth it!

Do All the Good You Can | Pray for the world, our leaders, and our neighbors! Check in with vulnerable neighbors, friends, and church members (and let the Pastor know if help is needed). Keep up with your church giving so we can continue to support our mission through this crisis (We do not yet have online giving but you may send checks to: Shepherd of the Valley UMC, PO BOX 1805, Indio, CA 92202).

Stay in Love With God | Watch your spiritual diet by ensuring that you are not just watching the news or Facebook/Twitter all day. Take time for prayer and meditation. Find the books, podcasts, conversations with friends, therapist, or loved ones who will help keep you connected with God and spiritually centered during this tough time. Find good reasons to laugh. Go for a hike and pick flowers. Watch a movie–whatever works!

This truly is a spiritual journey through a challenging time. Jesus Christ goes with us each step of the way. Continue to be the loving, kind, caring, and generous people I know you to be. We are the Church! Let your Christ-Light shine wherever you are.

Enjoy the Journey

[1] Adapted from First Word.  Pastor Taylor Fuerst , First UMC Austin, TX, Pastor Taylor Fuerst, March 13, 2020.


We will post new information to this website as it becomes available.