Official guidance so far is the same as for the flu:
- Cover your coughs/sneezes.
- Wash hands with soap and water regularly and after touching doorknobs, faucets, etc.
- Encourage staff and members to stay home when they are sick.
- Make sure tissues, paper towels, soap, and hand cleaner are available in areas where people gather (not just in washrooms).
- Routinely clean surfaces and items that are frequently touched, such as doorknobs, faucets, and telephones. Wipe these surfaces with a household disinfectant, following the directions on the product label.
- Seek medical attention immediately if you have symptoms.
Should health officials determine it is necessary to curtail public gatherings, consider what is required to keep your congregation operating:
- Explore ways to share your services via Internet with people who are absent, perhaps by live streaming your worship/Bible study.
- Platforms such as Zoom or Skype allow you to broadcast worship or to have a group participate in an online meeting or class.
- Create a church YouTube channel and set up a computer with camera to stream to YouTube.
- Video sermons and post them to your website and Facebook page.
- Sign up for an electronic service to receive donations, such as tithe.ly, and teach people how to make gifts online when they are not at church.
- Explore ways that you can gather virtually. Simple worship/devotions can keep your community connected should gathering in person be unadvisable. Examples include: Sharing worship, prayer, or bible study by Zoom or Skype, or a conference call.
Other considerations for your church leadership:
- Make plans for how worship and programs can continue should your pastor, musician, or other key staff become ill.
- Create plans to enable your staff to work remotely if that becomes a necessity.
- Review your organization’s continuity of operations and communication plans in context of pandemic. This includes how your church or community makes decisions.
- Advise your staff and clients and members to review their family emergency plans. For more information go to https://www.ready.gov/sites/default/files/FamEmePlan_2012.pdf.
- Take time to prepare now. View the PA Emergency Preparedness Guide.
Lutheran Disaster Response – Eastern PA, a ministry of Liberty Lutheran, is partnering with public health and emergency management agencies and will keep us informed of updates.