Dear Partners in Ministry,
Greetings on this Friday in Lent when we are reminded that even on the darkest of Fridays, Easter is coming!

The news about the coronavirus is coming fast and changing by the minute. Today we wake up to find many school systems are closed, colleges are moving to on-line only through end of year, offices are initiating off-site work protocols.
And the church? How should we respond in this time. Always with care and compassion toward those in our church families and communities. Currently the discussion is about suspending public worship and closing our schools? This is never an easy decision, and so, President John Denninger and I are recommending that you consider the well-being of your congregation and the guidance of your local and state government. The purpose for the closures is to show care for all the people of our community and to help stop the spread of the virus. It is an act of care and compassion to take this preventative measure. No one is choosing to close businesses and schools because they need a break or missed those snow days. These closures have a tremendous impact on so many people. So, continue the prayers and take time to check in with your local schools, businesses, and neighboring congregations as you make a decision to hold public services and meetings.
Consider how you may connect with your members in new ways. Perhaps you can identify members in the various neighborhoods of your church community who would be willing to hold a home Bible study or devotional service.
If you are live streaming, using Facebook, or podcasts – make certain your members know how to connect. In the Office, we are checking our list and will update it – placing it on the homepage so that individuals may find a nearby congregation who is on-line. Please check our current listing and contact Ryan Radke to update.
Make certain that your emails and phone chains are working and being used frequently. Communications from you provide much more than information – your words bring encouragement and hope. In these moments when the news is changing by the minute – your voice is comforting.
Take this time to do a deep cleaning of the church and school. Be certain that public areas are getting cleaned frequently. Remind members and students that it is okay to stay home if they are not feeling well. And remember that washing hands will do much to slow the spread of the virus.
There is so much to consider. Please know that you are in our prayers as you shepherd in these days. God be with you and keep you safe.

In His service,
John Denninger, President Southeastern District
Sally J HIller, Executive Director for Congregational Outreach