Brothers and sisters in Christ,
Students are returning to school and the trees around us will soon reflect the quickly approaching transition into fall. Scripture tells us that “for everything there is a season,” [Ecclesiastes 3:1] and throughout the many seasons we’ve seen come and go since the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve seen and continue to see the faithful actions of clergy and lay as you care for your neighbors and prayerfully discern how to best guide and reduce harm for your congregations. We, the pandemic task team, gather to empower faith communities across Mississippi with information so that they can make data-driven decisions that are in line with their current context, and how the Holy Spirit is leading them as a team to respond. We’ve seen congregations that returned to in-person worship have some cases of COVID and temporarily return to online or remote worship until they felt it was time to go back to in-person worship. We see your efforts and adaptive leadership and we say thank you! We also encourage everyone to remain flexible and adaptive as we transition into the fall, as continuing or returning to what we know works as necessary—sanitize hands often, practice social distancing indoors and wear masks around others—masks help prevent the spread of flu as well.
As students return to school, be mindful that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has streamlined COVID-19 guidance to help the public better protect themselves and understand their risk. Review them with your collaborative leadership teams and chart next steps through COVID as The Journey Continues Together, especially as the need arises. We’re not out of the pandemic yet and when confronted with the virus, don’t ignore it. Respond to it. Here’s how:
Have tests available and test when you’ve had an exposure or exhibit symptoms. Every county health department in Mississippi has free COVID tests available. Find a county health department near you here. You can also order free at-home COVID-19 tests from COVID.gov, but hurry as those orders will be suspended Friday, September 2.
As you discern next steps within the context of your community, utilize the data available via the COVID Data Tracker, which provides CDC maps, charts and data updates by county.
Check with your doctor and keep track of when you’ll need the next booster or if it’s recommended that you receive one. Click here to find one of several ways to look for vaccination providers near you. Additionally, if you are considering getting a booster, know that the FDA is looking to make boosters available in the near future that have an added protein that’s specifically designed to be effective against transmission of the Omicron variant.
Finally, as you gather with your local collaborative leadership teams, what have and are you learning throughout this process? Where has there been more resistance? Where are your successes? What are some of the things you are continuing to learn, extract and apply out of this COVID season? Send your responses to email@example.com.
Praying that your soul prospers as your health prospers,
The Mississippi Conference Pandemic Task Team
Dr. Marcus Gaut Dr. Bob Ford
Dr. Steve Shirley Dr. Thais Walden
Mrs. Lynette Harris Rev. Trey Skaggs
Rev. Haywood Hannah Rev. Dr. Joe Ranager
Bishop James E. Swanson Sr. Rev. Vickie White
Rev. Dayna Goff Rev. Fred Britton
Miss Jasmine Haynes Mr. Mike Howington