Next Steps Protocol for Faith-Based Organizations

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This is an unprecedented time for churches, schools and ministries to be involved in creatively meeting the needs of their communities.

 

We are here as Seventh-day Adventist Christians to care for people by finding ways to meet spiritual, physical and emotional needs.

Three counties in Washington—King, Pierce, and Snohomish—as of Wednesday, March 11, have a mandate from Governor Jay Inslee to cease gatherings of 250 or more people through the end of March to help contain the spread of the coronavirus. Schools across the state are instructed to make contingency plans for potential closures.

Please review:

 

CDC Faith-Based Guidelines

King County Updated Guidance for Faith Communities

 

We to cooperate with collective public health actions to help protect the health and wellness of our communities. This is a time for Adventist churches, schools and ministries here in western Washington to be proactive and prayerful as we take everyday preventative actions.

Church Protocol

Washington Conference asks each pastor to work with local church and community leaders to monitor and evaluate the public health risks and concerns of the local congregation and community.

Some congregations in the Seattle area voluntarily closed in a preventative measure on Saturday, March 7. More preventative closures are expected this month.

  • We have 4 of 119 Adventist churches in western Washington who have attendance over 250 individuals. This includes two congregations who already have two church services to accommodate their church family.
     
  • Pastors, in consultation with church elders and the church board, should:
    • Care for people: minister to the spiritual, emotional and physical needs of the elderly and the vulnerable of the congregation
    • Make plans for online church services
    • Temporarily close in-person meetings and gatherings
    • Move ministry meetings online
    • Communicate ministry plans with the church family and conference leadership
  • For churches in Seattle and King County who will continue in good faith to meet for church services with fewer than 250 people, the public health guidelines for gatherings must ensure that:
    • Older and vulnerable individuals have been encouraged not to attend
    • Recommendations for social distancing and limiting close contact are met
    • Employees or volunteers leading an event are screened for symptoms each day
    • Proper hand washing, sanitation, and cleaning is readily available
    • Environmental cleaning guidelines are followed (e.g., clean and disinfect high touch surfaces daily or more frequently)
  • Churches outside Seattle - King County should review and follow the guidelines from the local health department

School Protocol

Washington Conference asks each principal to work with local school and community leaders to monitor and evaluate the public health risks and concerns of the local school and community.

18 of 19 schools are currently open. Our conference boarding school is currently on Distance Learning days through the end of March. A few schools took preventative cleaning days the week of March 2. Starting on Tuesday, March 17, our schools in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties will be closed for six weeks following Gov. Inslee's order on March 12. This represents 8 of our 19 schools.

Principals, in consultation with the school board, will decide on local actions and communicate local information to their school family and conference superintendents.

Schools should:

  • Prepare contingency plans for e-learning days
  • Monitor the health and wellness of the school family (students, staff, volunteers, and families)
  • Continue teaching students about good hygiene
  • Continue providing diligent cleaning of high-touch surfaces and the learning environment.
  • Accommodate the student learning experience for high-risk students
  • Arrange for substitute teachers to protect the health of high-risk teachers

Conference Office Protocol

Washington Conference is actively monitoring and evaluating public health risks and concerns. We are seeking to curate and communicate relevant information for churches, schools and ministries.

  • The conference has a resource landing page available at https://washingtonconference.org/coronavirus
  • The conference office has telecommuting options available for staff.
  • Ministry events are canceled through the first week of May.
  • Community service centers are actively seeking to safeguard the health and wellness of clients who are served through these ministries. Many are seeking alternative ways to meet needs.
  • Our summer camp and retreat center has user group health and wellness guidelines for guests.
  • The response to the “Faith over Fear” prayer teleconference on March 10 was positive with 70+ participants. This prayer teleconference will likely continue.

Camp Meeting

Washington Conference is moving ahead in faith to plan and prepare for camp meeting from June 12-20, 2020.

  • Each year we apply for permits to hold this event.
  • We will follow the protocols and procedures outline for us by public health officials to safeguard the health of our members.
  • If public health concerns continue to be prolonged, a decision about holding camp meeting will be made in early May.
  • Lodging reservations are available now.

Everyday Actions

Washington Conference joins public health officials in reminding individuals to take every day actions to reduce the spread of the coronavirus:

  • Wash your hands frequently (use hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available)
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes (ideally with a tissue to be thrown away)
  • Don’t touch your face
  • Keep your environment clean
  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Boost your immunity through everyday healthy habits (see NEWSTART and CREATION Life resources)
  • Trust in God

In times of uncertainty, it is easy to be filled with fear. Yet God has called us to a life of faith. Let’s claim God’s promises, move forward with faith, keep track of how God is blessing, and see how God provides.

The more united we can be in preventing the spread of disease, the greater the benefit for the whole community.

 

Published March 11, 4:50 pm

Updated March 13, 4 pm