Coronavirus Contingency Plan from Pastor Rebecca

My Brothers and Sisters,

During any crisis, we have a firm foundation.  Our faith is in God and God’s provision. We are not to live in fear but through prayer we can find God’s peace.  We can help reduce people’s anxiety through prayerful, informed counsel, and by having a plan of action that will be in their best interest.  It is not our goal to create fear and hype, but we also want to be wise and prepared.  Church of God Ministries, Inc. is carefully monitoring the Coronavirus situation, considering gathering events and preparing for any potential crisis.  Clearly, the risk is more prevalent for some areas of the country, but we would be naïve to think there is no danger of risk for Pennsylvania. 

We are offering the following contingency plans for different levels of the disease in our local areas.  Obviously this advice needs to be customized to your church’s needs.  All medical advice should be followed only as it continues to be advocated by the CDC and other medical professionals. 

I hope this information is helpful to you as you continue to serve your congregation and your community.

Level 1- no known infections in our area (our current situation)

  • Events as scheduled
  • Prevent Spread:
    • If you have any flu-like symptoms (fever, cough, sneezing, etc.) stay home
    • Refrain from handshaking and hugging at gatherings
    • Hand sanitizer at entry/exit doors and at all gatherings (youth, small groups, etc)
    • Disinfecting wipes in children’s areas (nursery and classrooms)
  • Serve:
    • Members gather contact info for senior friends and seniors in their neighborhood
    • Assemble team of volunteers to make deliveries to seniors
    • Assemble team of volunteers for pastoral care (calls and cards)
  • Prepare:
    • Guide our church and community families for basic preparation

Level 2- people in our area become infected but incidents are isolated

  • Morning worship as scheduled
  • Prevent Spread:
    • Suspend serving the Lord’s Supper unless highly sanitary methods are adopted – such as servers using medical gloves and individually handing the elements to persons, thus not allowing persons to touch the tray or other elements
    • Cancel all Senior Adult events (it has been established that seniors are most affected by virus)
    • Eliminate all handshaking and hugging at gatherings
    • Hand sanitizer at entry/exit doors and at all gatherings (youth, small groups, etc)
    • Disinfecting wipes in children’s areas (nursery and classrooms)
    • Minimize in person hospital/nursing home/home visitations
  • Serve:
    • Implement Seniors Care
      • members contact their senior adult friends/neighbors for wellness check
      • church coordinate getting groceries and Rx for seniors as needed (help seniors learn to use Weis2Go, Walmart Grocery Pickup, Giant Eagle Curbside Pickup and Delivery, Amazon Market)
      • Deliver community food bank senior food boxes as needed
    • Implement team to call and send cards to quarantined/hospitalized persons
  • Prepare:
    • Prepare for online worship services
      • Worship team video record multiple songs
      • Develop plan for pastor to record weekly video messages
      • Purchase editing software to produce services (only if lvl 3 seems inevitable)
      • Develop plan to put video on Facebook and church website
    • Encourage basic family preparations listed in Level 1
    • Encourage people to set-up online giving

Level 3- active community spread in our area

  • Prevent Spread:
    • Cancel all gatherings (worship services, small groups, meetings, etc)
    • Implement remote meetings (phone, email or online/video)
    • Suspend in person hospital/nursing home/home visitations
  • Serve:
    • Produce at least weekly online service via Facebook and website
    • Encourage online giving to keep ministries going
    • Continue implementing Seniors Care
    • Continue to use team to call and send cards to quarantined/hospitalized persons
  • Prepare:
    • Establish online worship services and telephone call prayer meetings (you can go online to register for a free conference call at www.freeconferencecall.com.) 

ADDITIONALLY:

Serve
Taking care of those in our household of faith (ref) does not mean that we are not also called to care for those in our communities.  This may present a great opportunity for us to be the best church FOR our communities.  We will adopt an outward focused posture to serve the community.  Part of that service is taking precautions on behalf of others who may be a higher risk.  This is part of Jesus’ command to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.

Prevent Spread (based on the current direction of the CDC and US Surgeon General):

Hand washing; Thoroughly washing hands for 20 seconds with soap and water is one of the best way to prevent coronavirus spread.  Wash hands after social interactions, after being in a public space (worship service, store, restaurant, etc), after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

Carrier vs symptoms: You may be a contagious carrier of the coronavirus for 14 days prior to having any flu-like symptoms.  It is imperative that anyone having symptoms immediately self-quarantine and alert others with whom you’d had contact in the last 2 weeks that you have symptoms of the coronavirus.

Hand Sanitizer:  When hand washing is not possible, hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol can be used.  It may be difficult to find it in your local stores or online.  Many online recipes are available, but caution should be used to ensure that the final mixture is not contaminated and contains at least 60% alcohol.  Additionally, many of the ingredients needed to make your own sanitizer have become hard to get.

Masks:  the CDC and Surgeon General have repeatedly stated that wearing masks will not prevent you from getting the coronavirus.  But the mask can help infected people from spreading it to other people in their home by preventing droplets from being spread from the infected person’s mouth/nose.

Quarantine:  Whether the quarantine is because you have symptoms or because you have been exposed to someone with symptoms, be prepared for at least a 14 day quarantine:

  • 90 day Rx- as most prescriptions are imported, it may become difficult to get certain medications.  By having a 90 day supply (available by getting a 90 day Rx from your Dr) you can minimize the possibility of running out of medications.
  • 14 days food for you and your pets
  • Cleaning products and toiletries (including toilet paper, paper towels, tissues, and cleaners or diluted bleach water).  A CDC approved list of cleaners  can be found here
  • Soap for handwashing
  • Masks for use if person in home becomes infected
  • Laundry detergent
  • Thermometer to check for fever (one of the primary signs of coronavirus)
  • Over the counter flu medications to treat symptoms

Prepare:Producing Online Service– Most of us have never taken a video editing/production class.  But there is probably someone in your church who would be able to take the raw footage of songs recorded by your worship team (during level 2) and messages recorded by you and put together a meaningful time of worship that you can put on your church Facebook page or website.  This link suggests some low-cost equipment that might make your recordings done with your smart phone a higher production quality:

Online giving– If not already set up, there are many options available for online giving.  If you use a Church Management System (Planning Center Online, Elexio, Servant Keeper, etc), you probably have online and/or text to give options available through that system that might be the best way to get started with electronic giving.  Here’s a list of other possible options

Additional information:

Consumer Reports: What you need if you are quarantined at home

CDC: Guidance for community and faith organizations

Preparing for corona virus in your community

We are praying for you and for your communities.  The present situation provides an opportunity to serve others and let persons know God’s people care for them and are eager to serve in any way possible.

May God guide you as you minister to others.

Rebecca New-Edson
WPA Ministries of the Church of God

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