Message from Bishop Wallace-Padgett: Coronavirus Update
Blessings to you during this Lenten season. Thank you for your faithful ministry in North Alabama and beyond.
The appointive cabinet and I are writing to encourage you to use your best discernment in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We trust the insight and wisdom of our clergy and lay leadership in making decisions about worship, small groups and other church-related gatherings in your specific ministry context. Particularly we want to slow down the spread of the virus as well as protect those most vulnerable in our churches.
We urge you to cooperate with requests from community and state public health officials in order to help mitigate the potential impact of the virus in our state. Alabama State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said Thursday that the department is advising people to avoid large groups of 500 or more (See https://www.al.com/news/2020/03/no-confirmed-coronavirus-in-alabama-health-officials-advise-avoiding-groups-of-500-or-more.html.) Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html as well as your local media outlets for up-to-date information about the virus.
All churches are encouraged to use precautions such as:
- Observe requests and guidelines from community and state public health officials.
- Request staff and members who are feeling sick to stay home and not attend services and church activities.
- Encourage those who are most vulnerable to sickness, including older adults and people with serious chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, lung disease or diabetes, to take the precautions they need, including staying at home in the upcoming weeks.
- Try to offer ways for people who can’t attend activities to connect with the congregation such as recordings of worship, online participation options, phone calls from staff, etc.
- Make hand sanitizer available at points of common interest and encourage increased hand-washing.
- Increase the cleaning and sanitizing routines of the church’s common areas and frequently touched services.
- Encourage people to avoid shaking hands and hugging during greeting times.
- Avoid communion through intinction.
- Print hymns and prayers in the bulletin to avoid shared hymnals.
- Collect tithes and offerings in a way that does not involve passing an offering plate from person to person such as positioning baskets in convenient places.
Here are some helpful links to review as your church leaders continue to respond and make your contingency plans.
Thank you for your cooperation in dealing with this situation. Let us continue to pray for those throughout our world and nation who have experienced serious illness, family member deaths, economic crisis, job losses and other major disruptions as a result of the corona virus.
As always, it is a privilege to serve as your bishop.
North Alabama Conference
P.S. In light of Alabama State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris’ advice for people to avoid large groups of 500 or more, the March 21 and April 4 Pre-General Conference Information Sessions have been postponed.