Ministering to God's People as
Restrictions on Group Gatherings Emerge


In light of the latest recommendations announced by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the White House in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Mid-South District Office has updated information and considerations to share with our congregations and workers. As you likely know, the CDC on March 15 recommended that gatherings of over 50 people be suspended for the next eight weeks, with the White House decreasing the number to 10 people a short time after that. These are recommendations with far-reaching impacts, especially for our congregations, their members and the many people with whom we are called to share the Gospel.  

As emphasized in my previous message, let us all be bound by prayer during this unprecedented time of challenge and difficult decisions.  Repeatedly, scripture reminds us that God is in control and that we cannot be consumed with worry or anxiety—even in the face of a global crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Girded by prayer and faith, we can then move forward in action to help our congregations, communities and nation combat this current threat.

To that end, I urge our congregations to make every effort to comply with current—and any future—recommendations from the CDC and President Trump. As of today, this will mean suspending all gatherings of more than 10 people, including worship.  This drastic measure is an important and necessary step in slowing the spread of the COVID-19 virus, especially among the more vulnerable members of our communities. For our pastors and other church leaders, an absence of worship raises two immediate concerns:

  1. How will our churches continue to minister “from a distance” or under restrictions for gatherings?
  2. How will our ministries maintain financial stability during this interruption to regular offerings?

These are monumental challenges for our ministries—but they do not have to be insurmountable. Given the various sizes, demographics, locations and other characteristics of our Mid-South District ministries, no single approach to these challenges can be suggested. However, in consultation with other LCMS districts, we have prepared a number of options for your ministry to consider going forward. Suggestions for worship alternatives and offering tools are provided on a Coronavirus Resource Page on the Mid-South District website:
The Resource Page will also include a list of Mid-South District congregations with live-streaming capability, to allow for continued sharing of scripture messages or devotions. To add your congregation to this list, please contact us immediately to provide the link and information on your live-stream times.

The Offering Tools resource provides instructions on helping your members set up electronic payments, as well as establishing online giving through your congregation’s website. Please know that the Mid-South District is here to assist our congregations with this process. Do not hesitate to contact our Business Manager, Angela Fowler (901.373.1343, ext. 3105) with questions about establishing online giving.

As we continue to monitor and respond to the rapidly changing pandemic crisis, I cannot emphasize enough the need for communication within your congregations. In the place of regular, face-to-face interactions, the importance of encouragement and connectedness through phone calls, text messages and social media will be vital—especially for those who are isolated or considered “at risk” of harm from the virus.

As you work through the challenges in the coming days, know that the Mid-South District Staff is available to assist you. We are in the process of preparing to transition to remote operations from our homes, should such restrictions be mandated in the coming days. We have, however, made the decision to cancel the Spring Pastors Conferences and postpone the upcoming sessions of Faith in the Home Forum, as well as the 3L Summit previously scheduled for May. 

Brothers and Sisters in Christ, these are unbelievable times that often seem more like dramatic scenes from a movie than they do reality. But we take comfort in knowing that God isn’t shaken by these tumultuous times, nor does He want His people to be shaken. We stand firm on His Word and in our faith, always.

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