Coronavirus (COVID - 19)

A Message from Bishop Leeland of the Western North Carolina Conference


6 Steps Your Congregation Should Take in Response to the Coronavirus

In response to the coronavirus outbreak (also known as COVID-19), it is important that our faith communities educate their members and prepare their places of worship. Guidelines developed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) provide general precautionary measures for faith communities, schools, and workplaces. In keeping with the guidelines, our congregation is taking the following steps:

1.  Stay calm.

The CDC’s first recommendation is to remain calm. It is important to maintain our church’s prayerful and pastoral presence in the community. The CDC guidelines for the coronavirus are similar to their guidelines for general flu abatement. It should be noted that this illness, while aggressive, belongs to the family of viruses that cause the common cold.

Faith communities need to educate their members and prepare their places of worship.

 

2.  Use these general guidelines with our congregation.

Anyone who is sick should stay home to avoid infecting others. Any person who has flu-like symptoms (high fever, coughing, runny nose, chills, body aches, fatigue, etc.) should refrain from attending worship services. Please know that we recognize that illness is an acceptable and valid reason for failing to attend worship. We want to help! Please let us know if there is anything we can do for you. Remember, our sermons are available online. Go to www.oakridgeumc.org/sermons.

People should wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Our Weekday School is already doing this with its children and visitors and we will continue to stress this in our Sunday School classes.  it is important to get a good lather of soap, wash the front and back of hands and in between fingers, and then use a paper towel to dry hands, turn off the faucet, and open the restroom door. If soap and water are not available, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol can be used. It is also important that people avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

If you have traveled or are traveling overseas check travel notices on the CDC website and comply with recommendations.

3.  Encourage individual and communal practices of good health and hygiene.

We are working with our janitorial partner to make sure our worship space and other church facilities are cleaned regularly. We are cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe. Where appropriate, we use products with disinfectants with bleach because they kill bacteria, fungi, and viruses on objects and surfaces. We have multiple restrooms and sinks where people can wash their hands with soap and water, which is preferred to using hand sanitizing gels. As a complement to handwashing, hand sanitizing stations are mounted at entrances, coming into our worship spaces and other common areas.

4.  Review our worship practices.

We are reviewing our worship practices such as communion as they arise in the schedule.  Respect those who do not wish to shake hands at the sign of peace or hold hands during the Lord’s Prayer.

5.  Review our emergency and communication plans.

We are regularly revising our church’s plan for disseminating important information to members in a timely manner. Take stock of any ministries or procedures related to health and wellness needs, natural disasters, and other emergencies. Government organizations often collaborate and partner with faith-based communities in preparing and planning for such disasters and emergencies.

6.  Continue to monitor alerts and information from the CDC and other governmental agencies.

We encourage everyone to stay vigilant and up to date by monitoring information on the CDC website. Three helpful resources are:

 

(Adapted from the Lewis Center for Church Leadership of Wesley Theological Seminary “6 Steps Your Congregation Should Take in Response to the Coronavirus,” March 11, 2020.)
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