The spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) around the world demands the attention of the global ecumenical community. Church leaders have a unique role to play in preparation and response as they are trusted leaders with platforms for communicating important health information.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
and World Health Organization (WHO)
have the most updated information regarding preparedness and prevention. Global Ministries’ Global Health unit is monitoring these recommended protocols carefully.
The CDC also publshed Guidance for Administrators and Leaders of Community- and Faith-Based Organizations to Plan, Prepare, and Respond to Coronavirus Disease
. This interim guidance is based on what is currently known about the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will update this interim guidance as needed and as additional information becomes available.
Leading through Coronavirus
A wonderful way to lead during this unusual time is suggested by Christian Connections for International Health, which urges faith communities “to take time to T.A.L.K
.”: Time, Access, Lead, Know.
to reflect and pray about the coronavirus and consider how it may affect those in your community.
truthful information from reliable sources, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), your state health board, or country specific Ministries of Health.
by reinforcing the importance of following the guidance of health experts.
the symptoms of this illness – it’s new and different and misinformation is rampant.
Tips for preparation and prevention
Review your business continuity plan. The CDC recommends ways to ensure your church or business can continue operational activities during an emergency.
Insert recommendations for best health practices in the bulletin and newsletters each week. Provide simple educational tools that help explain best practices, such as instructions for hand-washing and instructions for using hand sanitizer.
Post these instructions at church and at home to remind children and adults to wash their hands. A few refrains of “How Great Thou Art” and 40 seconds will fly by! When soap and water are not available, hand sanitizer is the best substitute.
Place alcohol-based hand sanitizer—with minimum 60% alcohol content—at each entrance to the building, outside each bathroom and at the communion table.
Clean kitchens, bathrooms and classrooms with diligence. Use disinfectant spray on all hard surfaces, including door handles.
We are in the middle of a severe outbreak, use online streaming rather than on-site worship services and meetings. Provide pastoral care remotely via phone, social media, and develop innovative strategies to engage your church community in meaningful ways online (video devotionals, prayer groups, share songs and poetry, etc).
Consider the ways you can assist the community in the event of an outbreak.
Might you distribute food and water if there is a shortage?
Might you establish a food pantry for those needing assistance?
If schools are closed, might you begin a free children’s lunch program?
Does your congregation or community consist of high-risk groups such as the elderly, the homeless or those immunosuppressed? Is so, how can you assist them?
How will you share local information and referrals to community-based services in the event of an outbreak?
Community Mitigation Strategy (PDF)
Workplace, School and Home Guidance (PDF)
God of Life (Covid-19 Prayer PDF)