Coronavirus: What you and your church need to know

March 09, 2020
By Jim Morse
The current events take the term “Safe Sanctuaries” to a completely new level.  With the threat of flu and now the coronavirus, what steps should we be considering to make our services and ministries as safe as possible? 

Just as Safe Sanctuaries focuses on keeping our vulnerable populations safe, we should be paying special attention to our vulnerable populations when planning our response to flu and coronavirus. 
Flu and, it seems, coronavirus are more threatening to the very young and the elderly, especially if other medical issues are present. It is prudent that we should all start the discussion in our respective congregations on how we will continue our ministries and services in the safest manner, protecting those we serve as well as ourselves. 
In the recommendations included in the link below, one of the first recommendations is to keep informed on what is happening. They are interim recommendations based on what we know now and are subject to change as more is learned. By knowing what is going on and what the community and national responses and recommendations are, we can plan from a position of knowledge and not from a position of fearful, knee-jerk reaction.
Monitor the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for updated guidelines. Make contact with your local health department to be aware of community information and situations.
Consider how we will keep in contact with our congregations to share accurate information, determine if there are new illnesses, and be aware if anyone needs assistance.
There are several reasonable and practical recommendations on how to prevent and/or reduce the spread of flu or coronavirus in the CDC bulletin. How can we be positive examples of these steps and promote them to both our congregations and our communities?
Will we need to make adjustments on how we serve communion or even conduct worship services? What may those adjustments entail? How will we convey any changes as prudent and reasonable reactions and not scary changes?
These are questions that each congregation needs to consider now, in addition to the recommendations included in the CDC bulletin, so that we can be proactive in limiting the spread of contagions. 
As we live through these events, I echo Bishop Fairley’s prayer for us when he said, “Even as I share these very serious measures, my prayer, again, is that we not become anxious and fearful.”