Understanding Our Distinctive Position

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Understanding Our Distinctive Position

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The New York and Connecticut Guidelines do not specifically address churches. This document utilizes the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Guidelines for faith communities.

When utilizing the New York State and Connecticut guidelines from a church reopening standpoint, the following can be gleaned: We easily fall into the category of dealing with a more high-risk, vulnerable population. This includes people of advanced age, people in highly-dense population centers and people in the racial and ethnic categories (Asian, Black and Hispanic) that are disproportionately affected by the virus.
 

RESETTING OUR EXPECTATIONS

  • What future we will find ourselves in depends not only on the behavior of the virus, but on the actions of the people.
  • For at least the next year, we anticipate our lives to be shaped by the timeline set by the Covid-19 virus.
  • We must avoid framing our situation in terms of a choice between reviving our economy–or our churches –and saving lives.

If we don’t continue our efforts to contain the virus, a new wave of infections and deaths will cause further damage, and we will lose what we’ve gained from the measures we have already taken. And, if we push the envelope too far by reopening our buildings and resuming gatherings prematurely, we may unfairly force our more vulnerable members to choose between keeping themselves and others safe and participating in congregational life like everyone else.
 

THE ROLE OF LEADERSHIP

It is abundantly clear that whether you are clergy or lay, you are eager to resume in-person worship and activity within your local church. It is also clear that our churches are suffering tremendous economic hardship in their ability to meet their obligations to remain open and vital in mission and ministry.

And, it is completely understandable that many are frustrated by the need for us to move slowly, intentionally, and prayerfully back into some kind of regular, in-person routine.

Still, we must keep in mind that we have a theological mandate to care for one another holistically in body, mind, and spirit. We also serve a large population base that has either been disproportionately affected or is at a higher risk of infection than others.

It is absolutely essential for everyone in leadership, lay and clergy alike, to lead with a non-anxious presence and with a spirit of hopefulness. It is also important for leaders to lead, to not allow rumors or emotions to dominate the landscape, to help people understand the need for elevated safety precautions to avoid further transmission, and to call all of our people to walk deliberately and smartly into this “new normal” that we will discover together.