Recent news about the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID 19) has raised concerns for many of us for the well-being of people across the globe including potentially our own communities and neighborhoods. On Wednesday March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a pandemic.
In response, let us join in prayer for all who are affected by this disease. May God be with those who grieve, are ill, isolated and afraid, and the many first responders and people involved in medical and emergency care. We pray specifically for the people of China, South Korea, Iran, Italy, and other nations where the disease is spreading rapidly. May we together express support for our global neighbors and communities, that racism and prejudice be confronted among us. Let us also pray for world leaders that responsive policy be grounded in compassion and justice rather than fear and protectionism.
Let us also pray that we may resist allowing our fear to overwhelm us. We trust in “God with us,” and in the revelation of God in Christ Jesus who spoke often in the Gospels, “do not be afraid.”
It is important to be informed about risks and precaution at this time. While the Region of Waterloo reports that risk to residents remains low, there are a number of ways we can protect ourselves and others.
Region of Waterloo Public Health and Emergency Services release regular community bulletins including precautions to prevent the spread of germs and viruses:
· Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
· Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
· Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
· Stay home when you are sick.
· Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
· Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
Wellesley Mennonite leadership want to ensure best practices in our worship and community life together, especially for the sake of those most vulnerable to this and other diseases.
Concerning specific worship practices, the following changes are being implemented:
· Greeting one another in ways that does not include shaking hands or embracing is strongly encouraged.
· Hand sanitizer is readily available in and around our worship and gathering spaces for everyone’s use.
· Staff Relations Committee is following up regarding cleaning and disinfecting surfaces according to local health guidelines in our public spaces of worship and gathering, especially washrooms, door handles, light switches, kitchen surfaces.
· Worship Committee has made a decision that microphone will not circulate throughout the congregation during sharing time. Additionally, offering plates will not be passed through the congregation. Rather, congregants are invited to bring their offerings forward during worship.
· Conversation regarding best practices for Good Friday communion preparation and serving is ongoing.
· In addition, appropriate food safe practices, including thorough hand washing, washing of dishes, careful preparing and serving of food and beverages will be followed for all gatherings.
· Conversation is underway regarding providing electronic links to join worship services or meetings via video conferencing.
· Food and drinks will not be shared.
It is my hope and prayer that our appropriate concern for public health and well-being in our communities does not diminish our full and enthusiastic participation in worship and community life together. We trust in God’s continuing care for all in response to this health challenge before us.
May God bless us this Lenten season as we anticipate Easter celebration.
Yours in Christ,