On Thursday, Governor Mike Dewine outline several actions designed to mitigate the spread of the Coronavirus among Ohioans. Among them was a ban on gatherings of 100 or more. Although religious services are exempt, the ban prompts our congregations to consider how we respond to the outbreak of COVID-19.
As communities of faith, we gather for worship, fellowship, and mission. We are naturally in close proximity to each other, and many members of our communities are among the most vulnerable to the disease. While cancelling worship services and other church gatherings is not mandated, we should consider that possibility to ensure the health and safety of those who worship and serve with us.
Deciding not to hold corporate worship services is worthy of consideration, and it does not necessarily mean that all events in the congregation's life should be suspended. Food pantries that serve the poor may need to continue to provide support to our neighbors. Different decisions may need to be made regarding pre-schools and daycares hosted in our buildings. Other events that bring together smaller groups of persons may continue, but our worship life may unknowingly put some or all us at increased risk.
Although we are making our best effort to approach the situation in a well-informed manner, the appearance and spread of COVID-19 has created anxiety. In addition to the anxiety, some people may be temporarily isolated in their homes. Whatever ways we can find to be present with one another will help calm our fears and encourage us to rest securely in our faith.
The early church survived a great deal of things in large part because our very DNA holds a deep and loving capacity to care for one another. Famine was met with sharing. Disease was met with care and nursing. Fear was reversed by presence and encouragement. Whatever Christians faced, they faced it together, and they cared for each other all along the way. This is what we see happening now as congregations, regions and ministries consider our common life in light of the COVID-19 season we are in. The church is exerting its caring ministry in loving and faithful ways. We can face anything, and it is good to know that in our very DNA is a deep and loving capacity to care for one another. It is grace and a gift and the reason we will be all right ever still.
Please monitor the information available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Ohio Department of Health.
The CDC has a page specifically for Community and Faith based organizations as well - https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/organizations/guidance-community-faith-organizations.html
Also, the General Office is continuously updating their COVID-19 Resource page - https://disciples.org/dns/disciples-and-covid-19/
Rev. Rick Spleth, Rev. Thaddaeus Allen, Rev. Eugene James, and Rev. Dean Phelps
Your Visiting Regional Ministers