March 11, 2020
From Genesis through Revelation, Holy Scripture echoes a common theme:
“Do not be afraid.”
The Holy One knows that there are times that trigger our fear and anxiety. The uncertainty surrounding
– how it spreads, how we should respond, how to protect ourselves and our neighbors – has ripple effects of fear.
As Christians, we know that God is with us in the midst of the questions and fears generated by this new disease. While it is easy to be overwhelmed by the information (and
information) flowing around us, we can rely on God's promises to be a calm and hopeful presence to those who are anxious, afraid, and sick.
We lift in prayer
our neighbors who are
most vulnerable to COVID-19
: those over 60 years old, those who have compromised immune systems, people with underlying chronic health conditions, and women who are pregnant. We pray for those who have taken ill, and for those who are placed at risk because of poverty and stressed rural and urban healthcare systems. And we pray for the health and safety of the medical personnel, first responders, and health officials who are our first line of defense against this virus.
Many of you are asking,
“What should we do?”
follow basic hygiene precautions
, at church and at home.
Wash your hands
frequently and well, cover coughs or sneezes with your elbow, stop touching your face, and avoid touching surfaces touched by many people. Churches should
step up cleaning
of common services with
stay home if you are sick
-- from work, school, and/or worship. If you have
symptoms of COVID-19
or have been in contact with someone with coronavirus, health officials recommend you self-quarantine at home for 14 days.
Health officials are
NOT recommending canceling gatherings
(at this time), although some schools have closed after potential exposure of students or staff. Philadelphia officials suggest that the elderly and at-risk stay away from events with 5,000 or more attendees, which should not affect most churches.
This situation is rapidly changing, so check frequently with CDC, PA Department of Health, and your local health department for current information.
Church leaders and councils will want to
the will of the congregation, the guidance of public health officials, and what else is going on in the community when deciding to close programs in the church building or cancel worship.
Some will find this level of planning, and change, overwhelming. Yet
God’s people have been adapting to difficult situations since Biblical times
. Through this emergency, I believe that the Spirit is working to teach us alternatives and strategies that will serve us well after this situation passes.
God bless you as you minister in your congregations and communities during this time of uncertainty.