Coronavirus Update March 13, 2020
Hello sisters and brothers of Belair and Osceola,
In times of chaos (or at least what seems like it) one of the things we can do is respond clearly, calmly, and proactively. As you are no doubt aware, fears of the severity of COVID-19 and the impact the virus may have are beginning to have a greater effect on communities, including ours.
This virus is causing disruption and inconvenience to millions and changing the ways schools, medical facilities and businesses are operating in the short-term not to mention those who have become critically ill or died. For many of us, it seems like an inconvenience and for others, they are facing catastrophic change in their lives. What may seem like an overreaction is a risk with far less consequence than not being properly prepared to respond to the spread of illness.
As I monitor the ever-changing situation, I do so with prayer and in consultation with leadership from the conference and in our local churches. Bishop Holston released a statement Thursday afternoon in which he encouraged local churches to begin proactive response in accordance with recommendations we are receiving from the CDC and other relevant organizations. He, along with conference leadership, recommend that we suspend non-worship activities and begin to practice “social distancing” where we can.
In line with these recommendations, there are some changes we will make, but I urge you to remember this is also a time for the church to be the disciples of Christ for the transformation of the world. After we list what we are stopping or changing, we list the ways we can be the church in this crisis.
At this time, we WILL still plan on having our normal weekly worship service. However, we will suspend, for the time being, non-worship events and meetings. We will not have Family Night next week, Thursday morning and evening Bible study will be postponed, and Osceola UMW will not meet. Other specific events will be determined on a case by case basis with our best efforts at discernment through prayer and conversation. We will be in communication when schedules resume.
So, as we consider the things we won’t be doing, let’s also consider the things we will be doing.
We WILL continue to operate the Food Pantry as scheduled because when crisis strikes, the most vulnerable in our community remain the most vulnerable. We want to ensure those in need of food can receive it. We will be meeting next week to make adjustments to our client interactions and potential exposure even as we continue to do this important work. If you volunteer in the Food Pantry and are not comfortable attending, please do not feel pressured to be there.
As many in our community, including the immunocompromised, begin to self-isolate to limit the possibility of exposure to COVID-19, they may have to spend more time alone. Let us covenant not to let anyone be emotionally isolated even as they are physically isolated. Check on one another with calls, drop notes, be one another’s family. Pray for one another, for our anxieties, for our health, for all our well-being. Let’s especially be in prayer for those who have been affected directly, for those who are ill, for families who have lost loved ones. Pray for our medical personnel who are seeking to respond decisively and quickly. Pray for our local, state, and national governments as they offer leadership. I know we may disagree with their decisions but let us pray that they, and we too, would be wise in our decision-making.
In all things, friends, let us be prayerful. And know that the God who made us is the God who loves us, who sustains us, who calms our fears. May God be with us now and always.
To read Bishop Holston’s full statement, you can find it here: https://www.umcsc.org/bishop-holston-coronavirus-recommendations-for-local-churches/