Every day, the number of infections from the coronavirus is increasing around the world, including in the United States. I invite you to join me in responding to this challenging situation by praying daily, preparing for the possibilities and giving generously.
Pray daily for:
- those personally affected by severe illnesses and loved ones’ deaths caused by the virus;
- individuals and businesses whose work and economic well-being are adversely impacted by the virus;
- a cure for the virus;
- good judgment by all of us in making decisions to minimize the spread of the virus.
Prepare for the possibilities:
While no infections have been reported in Alabama, it is important for area United Methodists to be informed about the virus and aware of the potential impact a local outbreak of the virus could have on churches. Local church leadership may find it helpful to discuss actions needed for helping to prevent and respond to the spread of the virus.
Considerations for local church leadership:
- Ask, “How can my church facilities be better sanitized to prevent the spread of the virus? Is hand sanitizer available at points of common interest, such as the narthex, fellowship hall and all restrooms?”
- Complete the Faith-based & Community Organizations Pandemic Influenza Checklist. Developed in 2016 to combat the spread of influenza, this checklist may help congregations better plan for the coronavirus.
- Communicate regularly with congregants about your local church’s response to the coronavirus.
- Consider allowing staff persons to work from home where possible if the virus becomes present in your community.
Healthy Practices for Individuals:
- Wash hands often throughout the day.
- Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer several times a day.
- Limit handshakes and hugs. People will understand during this time of increasing virus awareness.
- Consider postponing long trips, especially international travel.
- Cough into your bent elbow rather than hands.
- Be a spacious person. It is not necessary to be in close proximity to someone to have a conversation.
- Use disinfectant wipes to clean and disinfect objects and surfaces such as cell phones, doorknobs/handles and stair railings.
- Resist the urge to overstock on food and other items, such as masks, sanitizers, and even toilet paper. Make sure you are good stewards of limited supplies and remember that others may need these items more than you do.
- Seek medical care quickly if you suspect you have contracted the virus.
- Stay home if sick.
- The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) does not recommend wearing a face mask for persons who are well. However, a face mask may be helpful in preventing the spread of infection to others if you are sick.
- Visit the CDC website at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html for up-to-date information about the virus.
The United Methodist Church has been involved in responding to the virus for several weeks by assisting China with a Global Health fund grant through UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief). See more information on how to give to this fund, Advance # 3021770, at advance.umcor.org/projects.aspx?PIMPACT=0005#results.
Also, please consider giving generously to assist our neighbors in disaster recovery after this week’s devastating tornado in Nashville, Tennessee, through UMCOR, United States Disaster Response, Advance #901670, at advance.umcor.org/Projects.aspx?PREGION=NA&PCNTRY=USA&PIMPACT=0003#results. Donations to both the Global Health Fund and the United States Disaster Response Advances can be made through the online links or via checks mailed to 458 Ponce De Leon Ave, NE Atlanta, GA 30308.
Thank you for your prayers, preparation and generosity during this time for persons and communities all around the globe. As always, it is a privilege to serve as your bishop.
North Alabama Conference