We’re Not Out of the Woods

Dean Phelps, Transitional Regional Minister

Rev. Dean Phelps, Transitional Regional Minister for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Kentucky

Over my ministry, I have worked with congregations and other organizations who have experienced financial challenges. Often, when the situation began to turn around and things started to get better, a sense of complacency emerged. We started to believe that we were “out of the woods.” With that belief, we could be inclined to go back to the way things were, to engage some of the same practices that got us in trouble in the first place.

Ever since the first case of COVID-19 was diagnosed in Kentucky, pastors and congregations in the Region have done great work to keep those we serve safe and healthy. I am proud of the many examples of pastors and lay leaders working in concert with concern for everyone in the church, especially the most vulnerable. I believe that the work we did contributed to flattening the curve in Kentucky. Our communities have been safer because we have acted to love our neighbors as ourselves.

In the past three days, however, Kentucky has seen an average daily number of new COVID-19 cases higher than at any point so far in the pandemic. This is not a time for us to become complacent. We are not out of the woods.

We have made some recent updates to the Healthy at Church guidelines. Specifically, we updated the section on baptism following a question from a pastor in the Region. We also updated the section on masks, and we have added a section on travel.

In light of the current increase in daily new case reports, I am asking churches in the Region to do the following.

  • Please continue to hold virtual or drive-in worship services for at least the next two weeks. Because the novel Coronavirus can have a long incubation period, it often takes 7-14 days to see the effect of our actions.
  • If you have resumed in-person worship, please consider going back to virtual or drive-in services for at least the next two weeks.
  • If you choose to continue holding in-person worship services, please redouble your precautions to keep people safe. This includes asking everyone present to wear a mask that covers their nose and mouth inside the building and in those situations where they cannot maintain at least a six-foot distance.
  • Out of state travel has emerged as a source of new COVID-19 cases. If anyone in the church is travelling, especially to states with a testing positivity rate greater than 15%, please encourage them to self-quarantine and not to come to events at the church for two weeks after they return.

Now is the time for us to remain vigilant and to continue the good work that we have begun. Now is the time for us to continue working together. Our witness and our actions have demonstrated our commitment to Jesus’ command to love one another. Let us keep that witness alive. We will get through this together.

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