The Coronavirus (COVID-19) has made its appearance in Ohio. In an attempt to minimize the community spread of COVID-19, Ohio Governor DeWine issued an order (https://www.fcnews.org/news/23835/ohio-bans-mass-gatherings) March 12, 2020, banning gatherings of groups numbering 100 or more. Governor DeWine listed several exceptions including religious organizations.
Each Southern Baptist Church is autonomous; each church is responsible for deciding on how to conduct public worship and other ministries. Both panic and passivity are positions to be avoided. Here are several links to assist with information and suggestions:
Other resources are available as well.
Every health entity is stressing the following for individuals:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; use an alcohol‐based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available
- Avoid touching your mouth, nose, or eyes
- Cover coughs/sneezes with your arm or a tissue
- Avoid exposure to others who are sick
- Stay home if you are sick
- Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs
Here are some suggestions for churches:
- Engage members in prayer for those affected, health responders and providers and for those experiencing anxiety and fear
- Activate or create prayer bands interfaced with Sunday School and/or Small Groups
- Keep communication channels open for all members and guests
- Encourage members and guests experiencing illnesses to remain at home
- Explore online media or other venues to provide worship services for the ill and other members and guests
- Intensify cleaning in church buildings especially doors, handrails, and other frequently touched areas of the church facilities
- Position hand wipe dispensers throughout church facilities
- Increase ventilation
- Suggest avoiding shaking hands (this will be hard for Baptists)
- Provide alternative means for members to give tithes and offerings rather than onsite
- Communicate regularly with Sunday School and/or Small Group leaders to encourage them and learn from them about their members for prayer and ministry
- Anticipate opportunities to share the Gospel with those without Christ
Psalms 56:3 declares, “Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You.” Real danger from the Coronavirus does exist. Even so, Joshua 1:9 reassures, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed. For the Lord, your God is with you wherever you go.” Let’s press toward that mark.