Is your congregation prepared in the event of an emergency? If a devastating storm hits, or there is an outbreak of something like the coronavirus, what will you do?
Points to consider:
- Get your contact lists up to date! You will need to use your congregation’s lists – mail/email/phone/etc, to keep in touch with people. Consider setting up a phone tree, so that those who are not online are not cut off. The Diocese would very much like to have your lists as well, so that we are in a position to be helpful in reaching out to those affected.
- Check with your local Emergency Managers to see if they might need any assistance, and to get yourself in the informational loop. Your buildings might not qualify as emergency shelters, but there are other things that could be of service such as storing emergency food stores, serving as cell phone charging stations for area residents, being a water distribution point, etc. http://www.riema.ri.gov//resources/emergencymanager/response/local.php
- Consider how to worship. Can any of the Daily Offices be led via Facebook Live, or a YouTube channel? This is a very helpful video explaining how to get your service on Facebook. (We have a list of additional online worship suggestions available here, if your congregation isn’t set up to provide them.)
- Consider how to keep the business of your congregation running. Is telecommuting possible? Is online bill paying set up? Online pledging? Do your parishioners know they can arrange auto-payments from their bank?
- How do you stay in touch? There are number of ways to continue holding meetings, checking in, even worshiping. Zoom, Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, Facebook Live, YouTube
- If you are taking infection control steps during services (‘hands-off” during the peace, communion in one kind, etc) you must communicate this. Place a note in the bulletin, make an announcement at the start of the service, post to your website, put a note in your weekly email.
- Encourage your congregants to be prepared for an emergency. (Always a good idea.) Bottled water, non-perishable foods, and a sufficient supply of necessary medications should be on hand when emergency strikes.
Coronavirus: what we haven’t heard from Government
5th March 2020
The Bishop’s Coronavirus Golden Rules
Not official advice: read and heed that here – but this is food-for-thought about our attitudes.
Golden Rule One: Each one of us can think about how we can protect and support our neighbours. So much of the public rhetoric is sowing fear about the danger of other people. So, taking all the official precautions, offer help and reassurance to others – and don’t demonise anyone or any group.
Golden Rule Two: Think about who may be suffering more than me. For those of us who are healthy there is much less to worry about but the elderly, the housebound and those with chronic health conditions may be very anxious. How about each church undertaking an audit of all the vulnerable people they know and sharing out the responsibility to phone them each day. There’s nothing like a friendly voice to offer solace when someone is worried. A smile can bring cheer, even on the phone. If you visit, follow all the official precautions or don’t go.
Golden Rule Three: Don’t give into panic and start hoarding food. There is plenty to go around, so practise the Christian discipline of sharing. Ask your neighbours what they need and do you best to help them get it. If you are self-isolating you will of course need some supplies.
Golden Rule Four: Live today to the full. None of us ever know what the future holds. In the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6. 25 – 34), Jesus challenged his followers to live each day fully and not be afraid. Every time we are tempted to give in to fear we need to make a conscious choice to respond in trust and openness.
And, along with just over half the adults in the UK, don’t forget to pray. Here’s a suggestion from the Revd Louise Collins, a Team Vicar in Borehamwood, Herts:
Dear God our Shield and our Defender, guide and protect my neighbour in this time of health emergency; deliver them from all harm and may your love and care ever grow in this place. Through Jesus Christ, Our Lord, Amen.
+Alan St Albans
Do you have your suggestions of other Golden Rules to help us during this time? Please tweet them #coronagoldenrules
https://www.cdc.gov/nonpharmaceutical-interventions/personal/index.html CDC general advice for preventing the spread of infectious disease
https://www.cdc.gov/nonpharmaceutical-interventions/gathering/index.html Advice for public gatherings
https://www.cdc.gov/nonpharmaceutical-interventions/pdf/gr-pan-flu-com-faith-org-serv-vul-pop.pdf Specific advice for Churches
https://health.ri.gov/emergency/about/specialneedsregistry/ Registry for anyone with oxygen or other medical equipment at home, or with other needs that first responders might need to know.