Caring response in times of public health concerns
With the outbreaks of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the United States and around the world, congregations and houses of worship need to be well-informed and well-prepared. The following information offers guidance as we minister to and engage with each other, and within our communities, as the body of Christ.
Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton has issued a statement in response to concerns about the spread of COVID-19. Martin Luther, said the bishop, “emphasized the duty to care for the neighbor, the responsibility of government to protect and provide services to its citizens, a caution about recklessness, and the importance of science, medicine and common sense.” Read the full statement.
- Worship in Times of Public Health ConcernsPDF Download
- Prayers for Times of Public Health Concern: COVID-19/CoronavirusPDF Download
- Congregational Planning Checklist for Public Health ConcernsPDF Download
- How to stream your worship service — A starter guidePDF Download
Stewardship of gifts
Many members may be concerned about how to support the work of their congregations, synods and churchwide ministries if they are ill or choosing to stay home to reduce the risk of getting or spreading the virus. A majority of ELCA congregations currently offer online giving as an option for both one-time and recurring gifts; and all still accept checks. For congregations looking for online giving, the ELCA has negotiated with preferred vendors who can quickly respond with options.
Due to the nature of the virus, information is being updated on a daily basis. We encourage you to contact and listen to your local health experts and authorities concerning best practices and the status of the outbreaks in your local context. The following links may also serve as helpful resources.
Guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, the CDC always recommends these everyday preventive actions to arrest the spread of respiratory diseases:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- 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, using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Follow CDC recommendations for using a face mask.
- CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a face mask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
- Face masks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19, to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of face masks is also crucial for health workers and people caring for someone in a close setting (at home or in a health care facility).
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.