Hello Cayuga-Syracuse,

The challenge of the Covid-19 (coronavirus) continues to be fluid, requiring our congregations to be both adaptive and creative in our ministry.  Last night, an article by CNN quoted the CDC as stating that those in at-risk populations (over 60 or with comprised immune systems) should consider staying home as much as possible.  The article then went on to elaborate what that might entail, with one of the scientists suggesting folks might want to avoid weekly worship gatherings.

Regardless of how you view this current challenge, there will be folks who choose to be cautious.  Please consider carefully how your words and actions provide care and wisdom in a time of growing fear.  We need to ask how we might be creative in our response.

There are several questions for church leadership:

1) How can we make our sanctuaries as safe as possible?  What practices should we encourage for those who continue to attend worship and educational opportunities?

  • Encourage folks to be wise in maintaining social distance especially during entering and leaving the space and the passing of the peace
  • Provide guidance for ‘hands off’ distribution of worship materials, and explore different ways of collecting the offering and sharing communion
  • Spread out! 
  • Practice what you preach!  If you’re not well… stay home!

2) Knowing that some folks will stay home (either due to illness or concern regarding illness), how do we keep them connected during a time of isolation?

  • If you’re not streaming your service… now is the time to figure that out!  It can be as simple as someone holding a phone with video options
  • Mobile giving options are available through the Presbyterian Foundation.  Contact onlineservices@presbyterianfoundation.org for more information
  • Use Zoom for free for meetings up to 100 people (and up to 40 minutes) – www.zoom.us
  • Those folks who are staying at home may not be ill.  How might you ask them to help with the ministry of the church through phone calls and prayer?  How might you remain connected to them by dropping off the bulletin and/or a “study at home” Bible Study?
  • Those who are ill need care.  Who in your church might be able to deliver groceries or medicine?
  • Are there others who are non-members who might also be interested in online options?  How might you reach them?

3) How (and when!) do we make these decisions, and how are they communicated?

  • Meet with church leadership (either in person or via Zoom or conference call) to determine best practices.
  • Follow the guidelines of the local school district (if it closes, your building closes) or other emergency declarations
  • Share those decisions through social media platforms, phone calls, email and print.

The Church has no walls.  This is a good time to remember that!  I’m offering a Salon on Monday at 10 a.m. for folks to offer up creative ways the church is responding to this challenge (https://zoom.us/j/900102928).


Blessings –