CORONAVIRUS DISEASE (COVID-19) AND ST. JOHN’S BAPTIST CHURCH
As your Senior Minister, I want you to know your St. John’s church staff and leadership are monitoring local, state, national and global information regarding the control of respiratory illnesses due to Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19). We are most concerned for those who are most susceptible to this outbreak – persons beyond 70 years of age and those with existing health and respiratory challenges. We are seeking to be pro-active in every way possible.
An hour ago, Katherine Schwarzenegger-Pratt canceled this week’s trip to Charlotte. We are hoping to reschedule her visit in the months ahead. We will gather for worship at 10:30, but you will hear me offer a message about forgiveness rather than Mrs. Pratt. This worship service will be live-streamed as usual. Due to being on the safe side of this crisis, I have also spoken with Al Staggs and we have postponed our Bonhoeffer event to the weekend of May 30/31.
SOME OF OUR PROACTIVE PRACTICES:
Our purposes are threefold:
- Encourage calm while we avoid escalating added danger, panic or fear;
- Report regularly our efforts of caring for our congregational members, guests and participants in our ministries; and
- Take actions expressing holistic social responsibility and compassion.
These are the procedures we are already practicing:
- Every preschool and children’s room furniture, equipment, toys, resources are wiped down with a disinfectant mixture. Preschool rooms are wiped down daily and children’s spaces are wiped down weekly or between uses.
- Every handwashing station is supplied with soap dispensers and paper towels.
- Every water fountain and entrance/exit door is wiped down daily with the disinfectant mixture.
- We have suspended the traditional ‘Expression of Fellowship’ at the beginning of the Sunday worship hour. We also encourage waves, smiles and elbow bumps rather than hugs, handshakes or fist-bumps until this health crisis is past.
- We provide boxes of tissues in the sanctuary pews and encourage their use.
These are the precautions we are adding to improve our preparedness:
- Because it is our understanding from reputable resources that the most susceptible persons to this virus seem to be above the age of 70, our ministry staff is suspending retirement center/nursing home visits until this health challenge has lifted. We do not want to carry any unknown virus into a care facility. We have also been informed that all hospital and healthcare systems in our region have instituted a practice that only family members age 13 and older will be allowed into patient’s rooms for visits. Therefore, we will also suspend hospital visits during this crisis. Instead, we will be making phone calls to our members above 70 years of age, as apropos, to check on their health and remind them of our care.
- We are adding handwashing instructions as given by the health department to each handwashing station throughout our buildings.
- We are adding hand-sanitizer stations in the Main Entrance foyer, Broach Hall foyer, Chapel foyer, at the 5th Street Entrance, and in the Sanctuary Narthex and entry halls.
- We are wiping down ‘high-touch’ areas in our buildings every day: door handles, light switches, etc. with the disinfectant mixture.
- We are curtailing some mission service initiatives in the community due to our conversations with our ministry partners until this health concern passes.
What YOU Can Do
- If you meet any of the following conditions, we strongly encourage you to stay at home and participate in worship with us via our Facebook Livestream. (See Kevin’s article about how to connect with our Livestream each Sunday morning at 10:30 or how to view the recording later.) Please be safe and protect others by staying at home in case:
- You are showing any cold or flu symptoms.
- You have been diagnosed with or are being assessed for coronavirus.
- You have been exposed to someone who is confirmed as having coronavirus.
- You have recently traveled to one of the areas most affected by coronavirus.
- Volunteer to help us on Saturdays as we wipe down our sanctuary with a disinfectant solution. We will plan to meet on Saturdays at 11:00 a.m. Rubber gloves and supplies will be provided. Please call or email Mallory to volunteer (704.333.5428, x11 or firstname.lastname@example.org)
Our practices mentioned above are due to the following facts. These are guiding our actions and decisions as of this afternoon, Thursday, March 12, 2020.
LOCAL: As of today, there are two reported community spread cases of coronavirus in Charlotte. County and public health officials are encouraging calm, caution and preparedness plans. If you have symptoms of fever, cough or shortness of breath, you should call your health provider first rather than going directly to an emergency room. This will help to diminish the spread of the disease. Testing of persons is only being done among those at high risk, as of now. Travel is discouraged for persons with health conditions and over the age of 70. Please stay alert as any of these factors are changing daily
NORTH CAROLINA: The North Carolina Department of Health and Humans Services (NC DHHS) does recommend that people at “high risk of severe illness from COVID-19 avoid large groups of people as much as possible. This includes gatherings such as concert venues, church services, sporting events, and crowded social events.” We encourage you to monitor guidance via NCDHHS, Mecklenburg County and Center for Disease Control. Here are their website information points:
NATIONALLY AND GLOBALLY: As of Wednesday, the World Health Organization declared coronavirus a global pandemic, signaling the need to be focused less on containing the virus and more on stockpiling materials, preparing hospitals to handle an influx of patients and enacting social distancing policies. As of today, the NCAA basketball conference tournaments are being canceled. With more than 1,000 cases of coronavirus reported in the USA, major sports leagues and large concerts are being canceled.
We will continue to monitor all reputable information. Should it become necessary to cancel events or services, we will send out a church-wide email and ask you to help us by calling those who do not use digital social media. In the event we must cancel being The Gathered Church for a few Sundays, we will offer devotionals/homilies and musical anthems through digital social media to keep us connected to one another. Please stay in touch with our social media. Thank you for the ways you love one another, thereby showing that we are disciples of the Way of Jesus.