Brothers and sisters in Christ,
As we are about to enter the season of Thanksgiving we write to you with grateful hearts for the down-trending COVID cases here in Mississippi. Glory to God for all the things that He has done! We want to thank you because this progress would not be possible without your hard work and commitment to collaborative leadership in creating protocols to protect those in your faith communities and practice loving your neighbors. We encourage you to join us in celebrating this news. We also encourage you to remember that our journey in this pandemic is not over yet--we are not at a point where we can let our guard down. We want to keep COVID protocols in place so that we continue to see decreases in COVID cases, as well as create a hedge of protection against possible rising variant threats as we approach holidays, colder weather and a season of more inside gatherings.
That being said, we know everyone is excited to gather with friends and family for the holidays and we want to offer some guidance to decrease the chances of spreading COVID at your faith community services and festivities in this season.
There are congregations who are still worshiping online, contemplating returning to in-person worship or recently returning to in-person worship. We would like to remind you if you are planning to return to in-person services about the below previous guidance:
We’ll end this correspondence as we began it—in celebration! We are excited to see increases in the percentage of vaccinated Mississippians. Additionally, Mississippi is a national bright spot right now as 43 percent of our African American population is fully vaccinated, which is 10 percent higher than the national rate. When vaccinations first became available, black people had one of the lowest vaccination rates in the state. This news is a testament to all your hard work with hosting vaccination sites, advocating for equity and being ambassadors for your communities. Hats off to a job well done, Mississippi!
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
Bishop James E. Swanson Sr. Rev. Vickie White
Rev. Dayna Goff Rev. Fred Britton
Miss Jasmine Haynes Mr. Mike Howington