Bishop Laurie Haller is urging Iowa United Methodist congregations to be prepared as reports of the spread of the coronavirus (also known as “COVID-19”) makes the news.
“Let’s all be calm here in Iowa,” Bishop Laurie said, “even as we receive reports of the spread of the coronavirus disease in regions across the world. We pray for recovery for those who have fallen ill. We also pray for the medical teams who are working to contain the outbreak.”
It’s suggested that leaders of Iowa United Methodist faith communities would do well to talk, in advance, about the impact upon their churches and develop a plan if the coronavirus does spread to their communities. Worship services and congregational gatherings could be affected. Timely and frequent communications within the church community are important - through a congregation’s social media presence (Facebook, Twitter), text message updates, and phone conversations. Hand sanitizer, ample hand soap by every sink, tissues, and sufficient wastebaskets should be in abundance.
Guidelines for healthy practices
Here is a list of suggested guidelines for healthy practices*:
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. All the time. All-day long.
- Alcohol-based liquid hand sanitizer should be used by anyone distributing Communion elements.
- At the peace, bow to one another or say “Peace be with you” to their neighbors. Refrain from handshakes or hugging.
- At all times, avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth – the places germs enter the body.
- When you cough, cough into your bent elbow, not into your hand. If you have to blow your nose, dispose of the tissue as soon as possible in a waste container with a lid that closes and either wash your hands immediately or use an alcohol-based liquid to sanitize your hands.
- Keep your distance. We don’t have to be in each other’s faces to talk. This is particularly important if someone is coughing or sneezing.
- If you’re sick, stay home! Encourage others to stay home if they’re sick. Don’t hesitate to go to the doctor and to urge others to do so.
- Create systems for wellness checks in the congregation, especially older people whom you haven’t seen for a while.
- If your congregation has a food ministry, follow the World Health Organization’s recommendations regarding food safety.
- Whenever possible, use Zoom, Go-To-Meeting, or Skype for meetings.
Up-to-date information is available from the
Holy and gracious God give us the strength to meet the health crisis looming around us. Enlighten researchers that they may discover the right vaccine against this disease. Guide the doctors, nurses and all medical technicians working with those who are infected to take correct actions for their care. Protect all medical staff and family or friends caring for those who are ill. Bring together the governments and governmental agencies around the world to work together to eradicate this health threat. All this we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
(The Rt. Rev. Diane Jardine Bruce, Bishop Suffragan, Diocese of Los Angeles)
*Adapted from a post from the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles