Pandemic Task Team Update: December 3

12/3/2021

Brothers and sisters in Christ,

As we prepare our hearts and lives for the coming of the Christ child in this Advent Season, now more than ever we, the body of Christ, need to witness to the world hope, love, joy and peace. We would like to offer the following recommendations as you experience the excitement of the season and plan your Christmas festivities and worship services:

  • The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to recommend avoiding large events and gatherings. Currently, the CDC does not provide numbers to define small and large events. However, CDC large and small group gathering guidance is available. Collaborative leadership teams are encouraged to examine past attendance during this season and depending on whether your church takes on lots of visitors, or if your parishioners tend to worship elsewhere, evaluate if attendance could possibly surpass 50 percent capacity and if additional services are needed. Communicating capacity limits may aid visitors in feeling welcome and able to safely socially distance themselves to participate in your faith communities’ services and celebrations.
  • For those congregations partaking in Christmas Eve Communion, use fresh elements with clean hands and consider using prefilled Communion wafer and juice cups. You can order them from Cokesbury online or by calling 800.672.1789.
  • Consider and respect everyone’s divine right to be in good health. Some parishioners will be visiting for the first time and for others, this may be their first time back to in-person worship since the beginning of the pandemic. Consider people’s potential level of discomfort and respect everyone’s right to engage in COVID protocols.
  • Additionally, the team continues to recommend that everyone adhere to local, state and CDC guidelines and continue to wear masks, wash hands and practice social distancing.
  • Vaccination is still the best weapon in our arsenal to decrease the spread of the coronavirus. If you have not been vaccinated consult with your physician and consider doing so. If you have been vaccinated but have not received a booster shot, we encourage you to do so. Find CDC guidance on who is eligible to get the booster and when for the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson boosters here.

We invite you to join us in praising God for His sovereignty put on display daily through His provision and protection for us that has allowed us to—20 months in a pandemic—celebrate the birth of the Savior in whom we live, breathe and have our being. Additionally, we could not have come so far without the dedication, patience and care of educators, health care workers, first responders, those working in logistics, persons working on the front lines and everyone else who committed to Living Out the POWER of We.

The recent discovery of the Omicron Variant is a reminder that we must continue to practice vigilance in what we are doing because we are not out of the pandemic yet. At this time, the Omicron Variant is a cause for concern, not panic. This team is closely monitoring reports on Omicron, but it is going to take a while before there is enough data to project the variant’s impact. We’ll have more information for you on Omicron as those reports and recommendations become available in the future.

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                  Mr. Cameron Cloud
                Rev. Dr. Joe Ranager                   
             
Ex-officio members:
                Bishop James E. Swanson Sr.      Rev. Vickie White
                Rev. Dayna Goff                            Rev. Fred Britton
                Miss Jasmine Haynes                   Mr. Mike Howington


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