To our Church of God family across Missouri,

March 13, 2020

It is no secret that the focus of “Trending News” is the Coronavirus or Covid-19. The swiftness of this virus moving across the scope of our world has taken many people by surprise and the 24-hour news coverage, the suspension or cancellation of major sporting events, concerts, the closing of places like Disney and gathering places along with the selected sequestration of places like New Rochelle NY place us in chaotic and uncharted territory.

What does this mean for the church?
* Share what changes to practice or alteration to schedules you are planning with your congregants before-hand. Greeters – let’s just hold the door and offer a wave instead of a handshake? Meet and Greet time – best to re-think? Communion – best to put off. All these (and other) parts of congregational life can be put off in the short term with proper explanations being communicated.
* Where do you get your information that is true and can be passed along? Stay informed as a source of truth and pass along only vetted and confirmed information. Here’s a link for the state of Missouri. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) .

Best Practices: You know these…
* An extra-deep cleaning of the facility (either professionally or by small group of volunteers).
* Washing hands and/or the use of hand-sanitizer. I’ve learned that singing “Happy Birthday” twice through (20 seconds worth) with hot water is the best, but hand-sanitizer that has more than 60% alcohol content also works if you can find it. Most baby wipes do not contain alcohol, but there are options like Lysol wipes that could be substituted.
* Cough into a tissue or your elbow if a tissue isn’t available.
* If someone has a cough, feels unsettled or has a fever – encourage people to freely stay home.

* Who are people in our congregations that might need extra Help, Assurance, Attention, or Love?
* Seniors, Shut-ins, the Disabled or even some Single parent families all might appreciate an extra call, or could use help with a home delivery or as a shopper.
* With the availability of Facebook Live, YouTube or even FaithLife, can you make services available to anyone who needs to or has elected to stay home? Many of you are already making this happen.

* What an opportunity for the church to be able to minister to people!
* Where can you implement some of the above suggestions?
* What new idea might you add?
* Can’t get out yourself? Now would be an excellent time to write notes, send emails or make phone calls from home to keep in touch. (Many Senior citizen homes are now closed to non-essential healthcare personnel – even family).

Only you as the local church in your local community can understand the scope of the risk involved as to meeting publicly for worship. Making wise decisions as to ‘how’ we can worship is also an opportunity to serve our communities.

All of us appreciate safety and security during stressful times. Make it a point to present a clean facility where people can ignore outside stress and worship with friends and family. Be assured that the God who created the heavens is present and cares about what we care about. Speak the truth about the Love of God and now is an excellent opportunity to simply and practically do just that. Come together to love people as an ambassador of Jesus.

How appropriate is this Word of God today from Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV).
“6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

And then the encouragement in verse 8…
“8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

This weekend and moving forward for an unknown amount of time, we can model that ‘…peace that transcends all understanding…’ with Love and without panic, let’s “…think about such things.”.

Finally, at this time, the General Assembly for Missouri Ministries of the Church of God scheduled for April 16-17, 2020 at the Poplar Bluff First Church of God is presently still taking place as planned. When and IF that would change, then we would also let you know by the various forms of communication like the e-Blast, FaceBook, and over the phone.

Praying we can be the Salt of the Earth during uncertain times. Blessings, Peace, Health and Safety to you and yours!

Pastor Howard

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