South Georgia clergy and laity,
Like you, the Cabinet and I are watching carefully the rise in COVID infection rates that are occurring in Georgia and around the nation. Hospitals in some areas are once again seeing higher admissions due to COVID. Schools and other public venues are having to re-consider what practices will be best for the safety of the community. Local churches are also impacted by these rising infection rates.
We commend the laity and clergy of South Georgia for the way you responded to the global pandemic over the past year. You acted quickly to fight this deadly virus through social distancing, increased hand washing, wearing a protective facial covering, checking on community and church neighbors, and adapting to do worship, Bible study, prayer, and mission outreach in fresh ways.
Once a vaccine became available many of you have led the charge in your church and community to encourage vaccinations for the purpose of saving lives and to enable us to move forward in overcoming the virus. In recent months, our local churches have demonstrated great care in determining when and what in-person gatherings could safely be resumed.
We cannot predict how COVID infection rates may increase or decrease in different parts of South Georgia. We recognize that decision making is best done at the local level and know you will make the very best decisions for your local congregation in your context. We ask pastors and church leaders to pay close attention to the infection rate in your own area. Monitor the health of your church members. Remember that social distancing, facial coverings, and a temporary return to virtual services are not steps backward. Rather, they are important resources to be used for the long term good of the church and community.
So let us not forget the practices we have adopted over the past year. Let us use the lessons we have learned to act responsibly as we continue to battle the COVID virus and the variants that are cropping up among us these days.
Flexibility is a key to moving forward. Over the past year you have demonstrated your ability to be flexible in order to remain faithful to the mission of Christ. Please stay in touch with your District Superintendent as you make these important decisions. This will enable us to be alert to the resources and actions needed in order to support our local churches.
Alive Together in Christ,
R. Lawson Bryan