Brothers and sisters in Christ,
In this tenth month of our journey through this pandemic wilderness, we do not know what phase we are in on this pilgrimage, and when we will reach the promised land. What we do know is that COVID-19—our invisible enemy—is continuing to strengthen its attack on Mississippians, and now is not the time to lower our shields. The situation is getting exponentially worse. However, as people of faith we know that Jesus is the light of the world. He came so that we can share that light and bear witness to peace, joy and sovereignty when chaos surrounds us. We also have the added hope of seeing the light to the end of this tunnel with the approval and distribution of coronavirus vaccines. We encourage you to pay close attention to the Mississippi State Department of Health website. According to the Mississippi Department of Health, in addition to healthcare personnel, adults ages 75 and over can now schedule an appointment for COVID-19 vaccination at any of the drive-thru sites. Click here to view the health department's vaccination phases and priority groups.
Jesus’ call has not changed. The mission continues. Christ's sheep still need tending—now more than ever. The pandemic created a few new challenges but mostly, revealed and further highlighted how we the church have struggled with relationships and the Great Commission. So we invite you to experiment with new ways to stay in relationship with Christ, with one another and to welcome others into that relationship. Look for more news on ways your church can participate in experimenting from faith community formation in the near future.
We have not changed our December 2 recommendation. For those of you who are adhering to the team's recommendation and not meeting in person, know that we appreciate your faithfulness. For those of you who are complying with the guidelines shared by the team on in-person gathering, we acknowledge your efforts to connect and minimize risk.
We rejoice with those who have seen this pandemic as an opportunity to reach new people and strengthen connection with familiar faces in new ways. We celebrate the focus on community and personal evangelism we have witnessed in letter writing, small groups (10 or less), house church models, ‘tent cities’ and other innovations.
We walk alongside you in this wilderness—not knowing when we will see a clear path out, but here is what we do know: God is sovereign—He has supreme power and authority over everything, including the coronavirus.
Although COVID-19 has been our reality for several months now, the landscape of this wilderness is constantly changing. Trust that the pandemic task team is carefully and continuously reviewing the data and will release updates and recommendations as information and insight becomes available. We are currently researching the specificity of priority groups for vaccine phases here in Mississippi, especially as it pertains to pastors and church staff, so be attentive to more information on that as details are finalized.
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 Mrs. Sarah King
Rev. Haywood Hannah Rev. Trey Skaggs
Rev. Dr. Joe Ranager Mrs. Jamie Beatty
Mr. Cameron Cloud
Bishop James E. Swanson Sr. Rev. Vickie White
Rev. Dayna Goff Rev. Fred Britton
Miss Jasmine Haynes Mr. Mike Howington