As United Methodists, we are people committed to John Wesley’s first rule of doing no harm.
We thought we were moving beyond the pandemic. News reports tell us that we are not.
The risk of novel or breakthrough infection from the Delta variant of Covid-19 gives us all reason to evaluate our practices of safety and prevention, both vaccinated and unvaccinated alike.
When the TWKUMC Covid-19 Task Force was assembled and first met, one thing that the team agreed to acknowledge was the fluidity of this pandemic. They affirmed the phrase “when we know better, we do better.”
Based on the CDC’s most recent best practices encouraging all people to mask when together indoors, we again offer the guidelines developed and distributed by the TWKUMC Conference in 2020 as current best practices to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
I recommend that your churches follow these guidelines at this time.
We know this is not where we expected to be, however we are led by Wesley’s rule to do what is needed to keep our neighbor and ourselves safe.
Over the past 18 months, we have proven we can adapt quickly to ensure our ministries continue safely. Along with masking and social distancing, we know vaccination is the most valuable tool available to combat this pandemic.
The vaccines approved by the FDA for expanded use in this country are both safe and effective against severe illness and death from Covid-19. Currently, vaccination is approved for persons 12-years of age and older.
Vaccines are available, at no charge, at most pharmacies and health departments, often without an appointment. Globally, 4.21 billion vaccines have been given, with 347 million of those vaccinations given in the United States. If your congregation members have questions about receiving the Covid-19 vaccine, please encourage them to have an open conversation with their healthcare provider.
We must all do our part to mitigate the spread of this new variant.
Peace be with you all in this season. Together we can stop this deadly disease.
We have learned much about ourselves, and our ability to adapt in the past year. The arrival of COVID-19 has had some impact on all of us, and tremendous impacts on many.
Our guest post today is from Richard H. Gentzler, Director of the Encore Ministry, part of the Golden Cross Foundation for the Tennessee Conference. Today, Richard brings us hope for a brighter tomorrow as well as words for the care of not just ourselves, but also our neighbor.
The Bible begins with God taking a formless, empty, and dark earth and creating life in God’s image and declaring everything good (Genesis 1:1-31). Since we are created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27), we understand ourselves to be co-creators with God. As co-creators, we can be grateful for the fact that the world’s scientists collaborated in new ways over a very short time frame to create several vaccines at an unprecedented speed. The development and rollout of the various vaccines to combat COVID-19 is a great benefit to humankind.
However, the virus is still present. We must keep in mind the pre-existing health conditions of many older adults. Even with the vaccines’ effectiveness and speed of their rollout, many more people will likely die in the months ahead. What continues to be of upmost importance for older adults’ safety over the next few months is a combination of mask wearing, social distancing, and getting vaccinated.
As church leaders, let us be vigilant and help older adults continue taking all necessary safety precautions. Encourage all members, including older adults, to get vaccinated. The State of Tennessee’s website, https://covid19.tn.gov/covid-19-vaccines/, informs Tennesseans about COVID-19 vaccinations and enables each person to sign up for special COVID-19 announcements from the state. Similar information for Kentuckians can be found at https://govstatus.egov.com/ky-covid-vaccine.
Share with your congregation the Center for Disease Control’s guidelines concerning daily activities during the COVID-19 pandemic:
- In general, the more closely you interact with others and the longer that interaction, the higher the risk of COVID-19 spread
- If you engage in public activities, continue to protect yourself by practicing everyday preventive actions such as wearing a mask, social distancing, and washing or sanitizing your hands frequently
- Keep these items on hand when venturing out: a face mask, tissue, and hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol
Prayerfully, the pandemic won’t last forever and we will begin a new normal. May God bless and guide you in your ministry by, with, and for older adults.
Grace and peace,
Richard H. Gentzler, Jr., D.Min.
Director, ENCORE Ministry