TO: Congregations in the Kansas Region
RE: Coronavirus precautions
We know you have been given much information from several sources about the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19). It is truly amazing how quickly our world can be tossed and turned, and it causes us all to slow down and ask ourselves what is important.
Your regional ministers and staff encourage you to take seriously the ways to protect from infection. We know that older members (60+) are most vulnerable. As a Christian congregation, we trust you’ve been taking precautions and making decisions that will protect your people.
We want to remind you of a few things with hopes that you may continue to practice safety measures:
- Sanitize your facilities and provide hand sanitizer in multiple places.
- Some meetings could be held via Conference Call, rather than meeting at the church.
- Consider ways to discourage handshakes but encourage your people to greet one another with a distance between them.
- Regarding canceling large events … that’s where it hits hard for churches.
Current guidelines from civil authorities are saying that we should avoid holding an event where more than 10 people will gather. This poses a real challenge for our weekly worship times. We have recently become aware that both the Catholic church and the United Methodist Church are requesting their congregations to cancel all worship services for the next few weeks.
If you choose this path, you may want to explore how to livestream services for your congregation or at least record a reading of scripture, a sermon, and a prayer.
We believe that you and your leaders will know the best decision for your congregation. If you continue Sunday worship, we recommend you examine the entire service and find places where you can reduce opportunities for germs to be spread (e.g. allow worshippers to leave their offering in a plate which is placed either at the entrance or exit door. This way, multiple hands will not have passed it with the possibility of leaving germs.)
Encourage worshippers to allow space between themselves and others. Also, in serving communion elements, it is best if you can individualize both the bread and cup, allowing each worshipper to take and dispose of these.
If you determine that canceling worship is the way to go, we encourage you to consider alternate ways to provide for your congregation. The General Church website has a spot where you can see models of live-stream worship. (https://youtu.be/3iffZZevrpk) Younger people, in particular, are very open to these alternative methods.
Your regional staff is looking carefully at all meetings and events. We have canceled both Youth IAS (New York and DC) and Boundary Training (March). In addition, Men’s 5th Monday and Tuesday dinners are canceled. KDW have canceled the Spiritfest program. The Committee on the Order of Ministry has canceled their meeting, and both Ken Marston and Steve Martin will suspend their worship visitations for the next few weeks. The Cheney congregation postponed the installation of their new minister.
Within a couple of weeks, we will decide about the Clergy Retreat scheduled for the end of April. At this point, we hope and pray that we will get beyond this critical point, allowing the summer camp program to function as usual, but no decision has been made.
Wow, who would have imagined this? Yet we can pause and recall what is important for each of us. We know that God’s love exceeds the challenges of the calamity of our age. We are confident in God’s presence and care for both humans and creation.
Perhaps this is the time to seek out those who are being overlooked and find ways to serve them. It may be your neighbor, or a family in the local school, or others who are suffering and are without assistance. In every challenge, there is also an opportunity for we who follow Jesus to shine the light God’s unconditional love for all of creation.
God bless and be safe,
Ken Marston and Steve Martin
Kansas Regional Ministers