Brothers and sisters in Christ,
We have now entered our eighth month on this coronavirus pandemic journey together, and the road has been long. We have all given up so much of what we are accustomed to in order to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our neighbors. We are people of faith and of hope and we give thanks for progress with developing, testing and preparing vaccines for distribution, but this news will not impact our current reality in the immediate future. It takes time and funding to administer vaccines and there are still many unanswered questions like how long the vaccine remains effective. Unfortunately, the data reveals that we are not only not nearing an end, but we are also seeing more cases and hospitalizations at an alarmingly higher and faster rate here in Mississippi.
We are all experiencing COVID fatigue and we caution you to continue in fighting this unseen, and sometimes deadly enemy. Although the numbers change daily, ways to mitigate and reduce the risks of catching and transmitting the virus have not changed. The seasons are changing, and we are coming up on the holidays, but we cannot change course by relaxing safe practices. We strongly encourage you to continue to wash and sanitize your hands often, wear a mask and practice social distancing. Also, make sure you get your flu shot. Do not make your immune system possibly face waging a war on two illnesses.
Recently, Dr. Thomas Dobbs, Mississippi’s state health officer, said that he has seen several spikes coming from churches, schools, social gatherings and extra-curricular activities. Several school districts across the state are having to go fully virtual due to COVID outbreaks. We urge your children and youth activities to follow the lead of local school districts when it comes to not holding in-person gatherings.
Some of you have submitted questions and we want to take time now to respond:
Question: When can we sing?
Answer: There has been no change in guidance. Churches should still refrain from congregational singing (page 3). Find additional CDC guidance here.
Question: Can we use hand bells?
Answer: Here’s a resource on how to safely use hand bells.
Question: When can we start eating?
Answer: There has been no change in guidance. Churches should still refrain from communal meals.
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