CORONAVIRUS PREPAREDNESS:
Keeping Our Mid-South Congregations Healthy
You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
PSALM 91:5-7
TO OUR MID-SOUTH DISTRICT CONGREGATIONS & WORKERS:

The recent contagion COVID-19, Coronavirus has created huge concerns for us individually and collectively as a church. Many non-essential group gatherings have been postponed or cancelled. International travel has been affected and people are wondering what will happen next. In uncertain and quickly-changing times like these, keeping your congregation healthy and connected to God's Word is essential!

As news regarding the virus and its far-reaching impacts on daily life seems to evolve by the hour, the Mid-South District Office seeks to offer encouragement and resources for our ministries and workers. Clearly, our greatest defense and most important source of strength during uncertainty is prayer. In addition to this, however, there are some measures you can take within your congregations to promote healthy interactions as you gather for worship moving forward. Like many of our fellow Districts, we suggest consideration of the following:
FOR WORSHIP & GATHERING
  • Communion. Use individual cups.
  • Greeting of Peace. Rather than shaking hands, suggest alternative ways of greeting such as a bow, touching elbows or using the arm to form a cross.
  • Hand cleansing. Wash hands with soap for 20 seconds. In the event that soap and water is not accessible, place hand sanitizer in the chancel area so that the pastor and assistants may wash their hands before and after communion. Place hand sanitizer in the pew or throughout so that it is easy for worshippers to use. 

FINANCE & STEWARDSHIP CONSIDERATIONS
  • Counters. Take measures to protect those who count the offering, as bills can be very unsanitary. Providing disposable gloves and encouraging their use is suggested.
  • Electronic Giving. Encouraging electronic giving can help reduce the amount of paper bills and checks that require physical handling. This option can also help maintain giving even in the face of reduced attendance.
  • Church Spending. Work with leadership to prepare for the possibility of reduced attendance and potential impacts on the church's budget.

YOUR COMMUNITY
  • Reaching Out. Our congregations and communities have certain individuals who are particularly vulnerable. Identify those people and have a plan in place to check on them and assist them if needed.

Synod has prepared resources that may also be helpful for your congregation, including a bulletin insert that you may choose to distribute at an upcoming worship service. A link to that resource page is provided below.

As always, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is the best authority for comprehensive personal health and hygiene information related to the current global pandemic; resources are available on the CDC website .
We recognize that our school ministries face their own unique challenges due to the pandemic. I am currently working with our Education Executive, Allen Piepenbrink, to provide guidance and planning resources for our schools.

With regard to operations at the Mid-South District Office, we are currently continuing to function from our Cordova facility. However, should the need arise to telecommute, we do have procedures in place to maintain functionality and continue our service to ministries.

As the situation with the Coronavirus continues to unfold, let us all be bound by prayer and our unwavering faith in God. May His mercy, peace and love see us through this current crisis.

In Christ,
Rev. Dr. Roger Paavola
President, Mid-South District LCMS