CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) UPDATE FROM THE STATE CONVENTION OF BAPTISTS IN OHIO. WHAT ARE CHURCHES BEING ASKED TO DO TO HELP AT THIS TIME?
The question for the church is: “How will we do ministry during this time?”
The State Convention of Baptists in Ohio under Executive Director-Treasurer Dr. Jack Kwok’s leadership has been daily following the spread and challenges of COVID-19. Our staff have had many conversations with experts and other key leaders as to how Ohio Baptists might respond. These include conversations with the Governor’s office here in Ohio, the CDC, FEMA, VOID, SBC National Disaster Relief Leadership, leaders from other state conventions, and church leaders across Ohio. We have national follow up calls on Monday.
What we know: COVID-19 is transmitted from person to person through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. We still do not know the full impact on our nation. Practicing good hygiene is most important now.
The number of cases changes from day to day. Isolation seems to be the best response from those who are feeling the symptoms. The request by medical and governmental leaders is for everyone to avoid crowds during this time.
How long will this be with us? At this time officials believe the COVID-19 will not peak attend the end of April or the middle of May. Precautions taken now can affect this timeline. Though this will one day pass the impact of COVID-19 will be with us for a while yet.
Are there trustworthy sites for updates? Governor Mike DeWine has the State of Ohio aggressively providing leadership to address this outbreak.
State websites you might find helpful are:
The state has provided a 24-hour hotline for specific questions: 1 833-4ASKODH
What should our churches do? The recommendations offered from our state leaders to churches:
- Consider implementing a plan for remote gatherings.
- Establish a practice of postposing events for the next 30 days.
- Churches may best help by delivering meals, medicines, etc. to those who are unable to get out. The CDC refers to this as “Wrap-Around Services.”
- Share messages only from credible resources.
- Use discernment and wisdom with church plans.
- Churches should have a contingency plan for this and other crises.
What are we being asked to do? Volunteers are needed. The national CDC agency is looking for churches to assist during this time. Let me be very clear [We are NOT being asked to encounter those who are suffering with COVID-19 or it’s symptoms.] Most of the current plans for volunteer help can be thought of as an “Amazon delivery style” drop-and-go to provide for practical needs. We also DO NOT want to put individuals who are in the high-risk category in danger. Understand we are still defining the process and ministry opportunity.
This is a ministry opportunity for the church to demonstrate Christ!
- Pray! I know many are already doing that, but don’t take that for granted.
- We need to know if you and your church will be willing to serve your community during this time?
- If your response is yes, you need to contact Sam Kelley.
[Or you can reach out to me, Duane Floro, and I'll get you connected]
- Understand your contact information will be shared with the CDC. As the needs become apparent those in your area will contact you with direction on how you and your church can serve.
- We each need to practice good hygiene practices.
- If you think you are sick, stay home. Some are at greater risk than others.
- This is not a time to panic. It is a good time to practice, that is live out, our faith to those around us. Be a good neighbor. Stay informed.
- Our SCBO office will continue to put out updates as they become available.
- Would you send us information on what ministries your church is presently doing in your community with regards to COVID-19?
FYI - Finally, some have chosen to cancel Sunday services. If that is the case for you, you many want to check your church insurance policy. Some companies provide a rider for times like this. In the event of a virus or forced cancellation weekly offerings might be covered. I realize how this time may take a toll on many of our church budgets. It’s worth checking into.
Thank you for your time. We at the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio continue to pray for you and your community.
Mission Support & Mobilization Group Leader
& Disaster Relief Ministries