Pandemic Task Team Update: The Mission Continues


Brothers and sisters in Christ,
We asked in previous updates that you share ways in which ‘The Mission Continues’ in your faith communities’ outreach and ministry, even during the pandemic. We are excited to share with you a glory sighting at a small membership church in Laurel that the pandemic task team heard recently. Rev. Dwight Yates and lay leader, Courtney Barthelemy of St. Paul United Methodist Church described how their summer feeding program for children served the greater Laurel community before the pandemic, and how through their adaptive leadership they were able to incorporate COVID precautions and continue their mission. Pre-COVID, St. Paul partnered with the Laurel Housing Authority and served students in the church Monday through Friday over the summer. After the onset of the pandemic, they had to reduce the number of volunteers due to social distancing. Then volunteers had to modify the meals to become pre-packaged and be distributed via drive-up delivery, rather than a sit-down meal. According to Yates and Barthelemy, the downside to the new COVID adaptations was not being able to cultivate relationships as they normally do. However, the upside to the modifications was that they were able to serve more people with to-go plates than when the children had to eat on site. For more information, on how your faith community can sustain an adaptive summer feeding program, contact St. Paul UMC at 601.447.3450.

Vaccine and Guidance

The pandemic task team strongly encourages all who are eligible to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Let’s Live Out the POWER of we and move forward together on the shared mission of getting as many people vaccinated as possible so that all of us can return to in-person fellowship and explore more personal ways to reach new people for Jesus Christ. 

The Center for Disease Control recently released new guidance for small, outdoor gatherings. However, it is the recommendation of the pandemic task team that everyone stay the course, continue to social distance, wear mask and sanitize hands often. As of the time of this publication, Mississippi has the second lowest vaccination rate in the country with only 19 percent of Mississippians having the status of being fully vaccinated. For a more detailed breakdown by county you can view the data from the Mississippi State Department of Health and the John Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center.

We Want to Hear from You

If your faith community is serving as a vaccination site let us know. Additionally, the pandemic task team will review data on counties and areas where vaccination rates are relatively low and reach out to local churches in those communities who are willing to serve as a vaccination site. If you are willing to serve your surrounding community as one of those sites, respond by sending an email to  

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
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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