Dear South Georgia clergy, laity, and friends,
As we meet for appointment-making, our South Georgia Cabinet is also mindful of the concern and uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus. We all want to do our part to stop the spread of this virus.
Gov. Kemp has asked school districts across the state to consider closing for two weeks. Local school systems have already implemented some limited closures in specific areas to deal with recent presumed positive and confirmed cases of COVID-19. During a press conference yesterday, Gov. Kemp made it clear that daycares, schools, and school districts have the freedom to implement further closures as early as Friday, March 13, for the next two weeks.
In light of this request from the governor, I encourage churches to consult with local authorities and school systems to decide whether or not to hold worship services and other congregational events. In some areas, this may involve canceling worship services for a period of time. Some churches already offer an online worship option; others are beginning to consider adding that to their ministry.
I urge pastors and local church leaders to develop a plan for communicating with their congregation should it become necessary for us to suspend services of worship in South Georgia in order to do our part to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Now is the time to make contingency plans for worship and/or any special events that have been planned.
We commend the many pastors who, in consultation with their lay leadership, have communicated with their congregations concerning the coronavirus. These communications include: stay home if you are sick; wash your hands with soap for no less than 20 seconds; sanitize public areas after each use; sanitize kitchens and restrooms regularly; avoid crowds; smile and wave but do not shake hands; cover your mouth or nose when coughing or sneezing, and get medical help right away if you feel sick.
In addition, churches that plan to serve Communion in the next several weeks are making special preparations such as ordering prepackaged communion kits in which the bread and cup are individually sealed.
The Cabinet and I will be meeting on Monday, March 16, to continue assessing the situation in each district of our conference and will continue to make any necessary announcements.
If you have questions about this announcement or need guidance in determining what is best for your church, please contact your District Superintendent.
As I said in my email earlier this week: stay informed, prepare and communicate. Thank you for doing this so together we can be alive together in Christ as we faithfully minister to our church and our community.
Know that the Cabinet and I are praying for you, your churches and all affected by this outbreak.
Bishop R. Lawson Bryan