and Sisters in Christ,
What a time
we live in! If it wasn’t enough to face the challenges before us, as
individuals, a congregation, a community, nation and world, we find ourselves
facing a situation none of us anticipated: the spread of a virus around the
world in what many experts increasingly believe either is, or is on the way to
being, a pandemic.
midst of the uncertainty around COVID-19 (coronavirus), it can be difficult to
know what we should be doing, to find answers for our questions, and fear and
anxiety (or, on the other hand, denial) can seem at times overwhelming.
includes calls to spiritual health as well as physical health. Indeed, in Leviticus
13, God provides instruction for what we would today call a quarantine. Throughout
Old Testament law, we see God’s concern for the whole of human experience—spiritual
commitments, relationships, physical health, everything. John Wesley, the
founder of our Methodist movement, was also concerned not only with the
spiritual, but also the physical. He offered dietary and exercise guidance to
his followers, and understood some of the connection between our physical
health and mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. We carry this legacy.
Therefore, it is appropriate that as a faith community we would work together
to care for the holistic well-being of our congregation and community.
light of the unfolding COVID-19 spread, I am writing to you to share reminders
of the common sense measures officials are asking of us at this time, as well
as our preparations and plans for our own congregation.
news (and yes, even in the midst of our uncertainty and anxiety, there is some
very good news) is that basic practices have already been shown to slow and
reduce the spread of the coronavirus. Experts are universally confident that
some simple measures can drastically help keep both you and those around you
close contact with people who are sick.
touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
home when you are sick.
your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household
cleaning spray or wipe.
CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.
does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect
themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the
spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health
workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at
home or in a health care facility).
your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after
going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or
soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are
communities where there have been confirmed cases, the local health department
gives guidance to those who have been exposed about entering generally two
weeks of self-quarantine. The purpose of such a quarantine is to prevent the possibility
of the spread of the illness while waiting to see of the exposed person becomes
addition, as a preventative measure, the CDC is now encouraging older adults
(defined as those over 60) as well as persons with compromised immune systems
to consider avoiding public spaces, and especially large gatherings until we
have greater clarity and better handle on the spread of the virus.
It is important to know that there is currently no projected end to this period
of social distancing. The link in the footnotes provides the current guidance from
the CDC to prepare for such social distancing.
at Calvary UMC, we plan to approach any changes to our schedule in ways similar
to inclement weather—namely, we will follow the decision of Charles County
Schools. If Charles County Schools close for quarantine purposes, all events at
Calvary will be cancelled. Further, we will follow all relevant guidance from
our local health department and officials. It may be possible that schools are
open but we are asked to cancel worship services and other gatherings. Of
course, we would do so.
anticipate bad weather, I also always remind you to make the best decision for
yourself and your family. Sometimes we may hold worship if there is snow on the
ground, but in such a case, I would always expect you would not venture out if
you felt it was not safe to do so. Please do the same thing now and in the days
the CDC is now encouraging persons over 60 to avoid large gatherings, I
understand that even as we continue regular events at this time, some of our
congregation may reduce their participation for now. We want to be sure to
remain connected to our entire congregation, even those who may make such a decision.
in the coming days, I will be sharing even more about how we will be using
technology to remain connected. This will include Facebook Live videos (which
we have used successfully for worship on snow days) as well as ZOOM, which is a
video conferencing tool that allows participants to connect either on their
computers or by calling in on their phones to connect to the audio. A number of
churches use ZOOM regularly not only for meetings, but also for connecting for
things like fellowship and prayer groups. If your group at Calvary would like
to explore such a tool, I would be happy to help you consider your options.
also be encouraging you to consider using electronic giving to help support the
ongoing financial needs of the congregation, even if you choose to stay home for
If you have
any questions about these measures or suggestions for how we can prepare for possible
contingencies as a church family, please let me know. If you need assistance
preparing for a period of social distancing, let us know how your church family
can be of assistance.
confidence and peace knowing that God’s people have journeyed through such
difficult seasons before, and that God has sustained them along the way. I give
thanks that one of the ways God supports us in such seasons is through the
care, love and encouragement of our brothers and sisters in Christ. May you
know you are loved and surrounded with support, and may you reach out in care
and service to those around you.