Keeping In Touch
Response to COVID-19
March 10, 2020
After reviewing guidelines issued by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) and other denominational agencies as a staff we agreed to:

  • Stay home if you are feeling sick and or have a fever. If you have a fever do not return to work until you have been without a fever for 24 hours and have not used medication for fever reduction.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Clean surfaces you touch
  • Help keep common/public spaces in the office clean by wiping door handles, light switches, counter tops, tables, chairs and office equipment with household detergent or disinfectant wipes.
  • If a staff member becomes ill and does not have sufficient sick leave to use during their illness, the synod executive and the personnel committee chair will advise regarding conditions on the length of their leave.
  • Travel - at this time we have not banned travel within the United States, however, we will make decisions to travel on a case by case basis.
  • In person meetings - we have not banned in person meetings, but we are making use of Zoom when practical.

Considerations for congregations:

Many congregations have begun to take precautions. Here are suggestions from congregations, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance and the Center for Disease Control.

For Worship:
  • Encourage church members and staff to stay home if they are ill or concerned about becoming ill. Older adults and those with chronic/preexisting health concerns are at a higher risk for serious COVID-19 illness.

  • Do not shake hands when entering or leaving worship and also during the "passing of the peace." Instead, smile, wave, place hands over the heart, bow or elbow bump.

  • Consider printing the words to hymns in the bulletin to avoid spreading germs through the use of hymnals.

Serving communion:
  • Use prefilled communion sets or,
  • Prepare elements wearing gloves and masks
  • Keep elements covered until used
  • Have celebrant and elders use hand sanitizer and/or wear gloves before serving the elements
  • Call people forward row by row
  • Each person is handed an individual portion of each element
  • Place a tray/s nearby where people may place their empty communion cup
  • Announce that the differently-able may stay where they are and communion will be brought to them

In the building:
  • Clean children's toys in classrooms, nursery, sanctuary and daycare facilities after each service or class. Mix one part bleach to ten parts water (make fresh solution for day of use) or use a surface spray with bleach. Let parents know toys are cleaned weekly or daily.

  • Encourage parents to clean the toys and blankets their children bring to church.

  • If your church has cloth bags in the sanctuary for children to use during worship, ask someone to take the bags home each week to wash.

  • Have ample soap and disposable towels in restrooms and other places for hand-washing.

  • Place hand sanitizer and disposable towels or tissues at building entrances. Have an open bin nearby for easy disposal of towels and tissues.

  • Regularly clean frequently touched surfaces (door handles, light switches, handrails, faucets, pews and telephones) with household detergent or disinfectant wipes.

  • Take precautions when visiting members in their homes. Check with care centers and hospitals regarding visits.

Planning ahead:

  • Have a clear plan for who will make decisions about canceling events or worship. How will these decisions be communicated?

  • Think of ways the community can stay in touch if they cannot gather in person.

  • Think of ways to support those that are ill. Offer to drop off groceries or pick up a prescription at the drugstore. A short phone call to say hello can boost morale.

  • Make a plan for welcoming people back.

Resources:

There are many resources available:
A new Hymn-Prayer in response to Coronavirus
by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette

God Whose Will Is Health and Wholeness
IN BABILONE 8.7.8.7 D ("There's a Wideness in God's Mercy")

God whose will is health and wholeness, hear your people as we pray:
Many now are facing illness; more face sickness every day.
As we lift our song toward heaven, may we use the gifts you give—
science, justice, and compassion— to help others safely live.

Jesus taught that your commandments call for us to use the mind.
May we use the gifts of science to seek health for humankind.
Bless the ones who work for healing; bless the ones who seek to be
Builders of a health care system that protects society.

God, you call for love and justice, yet our laws are far from wise:
Many don’t have good insurance; lack of health care threatens lives.
Many workers must keep working, sick or not, to pay the bills.
Turn us round when we have sanctioned greed that leads to greater ills.

Loving God, we ask your blessing on the sick and those they love,
And we pray for those now grieving as they lift their cries above.
There is trouble all around us; illness causes pain and fear.
Give compassion, love and kindness as we serve your people here.


Tune: Traditional Dutch melody
Text: Copyright © 2020 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved.

Permission is given for use of this hymn for local church use.
Email: carolynshymns@gmail.com New Hymns:  www.carolynshymns.com

Permission is given for free use of this new hymn. Please share it with others.

“Loving Your Neighbor in a Time of Coronavirus” by Jim Wallis was helpful background reading for the creation of this hymn.  https://sojo.net/arti…/loving-your-neighbor-time-coronavirus
It is suggested that we wash our hands for 20 seconds. Helpful, or not, 20 seconds is long enough to sing the birthday song twice. Don't particularly care for the birthday song or need something different? Try the Doxology.
Be well.