COVID-19 Response

Updated 03/30/2020
Will continue to update accordingly.

After much prayer, counsel, and with the desire to be more of a blessing than a burden to local ministries: we are POSTPONING all Network events up to May 1, 2020.  In the next week or so we will give another update concerning events past May 1, 2020 once we see how the virus continues to impact our nation, and with newer government guidelines.

Due to the ever-evolving needs of our communities, we believe that wisdom, caution and compliance with the CDC recommendations is the best route for our Network as a whole. We understand that these are unprecedented times and have caused uncertainty and anxiety for many in our Network. With great hope, we seek to remind you that our future is certain and secure in Christ.

Throughout this past couple of weeks, we have been watching the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic. Like many of you, we realize the tension of concern and faith, wanting to be good stewards in our preparation for the disease and not overreacting out of fear and hysteria. Today, the CDC and the Federal Government have requested that we no longer have large gatherings, including religious gatherings of more than 10 people. The states of Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine are taking similar steps. Obviously, these decisions affect many of our churches, restrict chaplains from nursing homes, and create other ramifications in an effort to prevent the rapid spread of COVID-19. There will be challenges to our ability to minister in ways we find normal. However, this can be an opportunity for the church to show compassion and help in their own communities. Throughout history, Christians have been called upon to respond to crisis and show the world the presence of Christ. In your role as a minister of the gospel, you are a shining light to the fear that is rampant in these dark days. I encourage you to walk worthy of that calling.

We care for the churches of the Northern New England Ministry Network. The health and safety of our people and ministers are very important to us. We want to provide resources that will be helpful to you as you lead your local ministry. You can help stop the spread of the virus in the following ways:

  • Stay home when you or family members are sick. Encourage your congregation to do the same. When possible, encourage your congregation to connect through online forums and social media your church provides.
  • Stay up to date with the CDC guidelines and recommendations – these are being updated frequently.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • Cover your sneeze or cough with a tissue or your arm.
  • Get in the habit of not touching your face so often.
  • If your people are returning from a high-alert area, urge them to refrain from attending church events, classes, and services until the 14-day time-frame has been observed.
  • If you or someone in your congregation tests positive for COVID-19, please let us know so we can rally our fellowship in prayer.

In addition, we encourage these steps at your local church:

  • Sanitize highly touched surfaces such as doors, handles, tables, water fountains, check-in stations, and sinks on a regular basis.
  • Have staff and volunteer teams wash their hands frequently and stay home if they are sick.
  • Provide hand sanitizer stations around the church and encourage their frequent use.
  • Thoroughly sanitize all children’s toys and play areas. (This should be a regular practice.)

MORE RESOURCES FOR OUR PASTORS AND CHURCHES:

Things to note about the Network Calendar: 

  • Please check the district website frequently for any news updates on schedule.
  • All District Affiliated Churches should postpone services and use online services for continued ministry, and we recommend that General Council Churches adhere to the same policy.

This is an unprecedented opportunity for the church to be the church and we encourage you to reach out to your community in creative ways. Stay connected with those in your regions. Check on the people in your circle of influence. I also encourage you to exercise good judgment. We ask that anyone that is infected or suspects infection to follow CDC guidelines and exercise good judgment for the care of others. And most importantly, continue to pray. Pray for each other, our Network, our Nation and the World. Our prayer is for this virus be turned into an opportunity for the church to be renewed.

Summary of CDC Guidelines for Large Gatherings (please stay up to date on the rapidly changing guidelines at this site):  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

  • Implement social distancing. Reduce activities (Offer video or audio accessible options)
  • CDC recommends canceling large gatherings (e.g., >10 people)

 

We're Here To Help!

   We at the district office wish to come alongside our churches to help as a resource; so, we are putting together some helps for online ministry, and online giving – in terms of what to use, how to use them, and what is available to use, both free and low cost.

We will have a Free Zoom video conference open each day with our District Youth Director, Travis Nichelson. Travis will help assist you in what is available to stream with online services, and with mechanisms for online giving.  We hope this will help you find new ways to minister during this time of crisis.

We have set up three links for the Zoom Meetings with Travis to help you.  You can join for free on any of these with any browser on your computer. 

COVID-19 Response: Online Giving

COVID-19 Response: Live Streaming

COVID-19 Response: Community Building

Other Guidelines:

  • If you have a CCLI license please note that you CANNOT stream your music online unless you pay for a special license that allows for that, the standard license does NOT cover broadcasting online, only use in a church service inside a building.  This would also be true if you have some other kind of license.
  • Plan out what you are going to do online before you launch, don’t just “wing it”!
  • Remember that preaching to a closed audience is not the same as a digital group, stories that you might use that everyone understand locally, etc.  Be mindful of what you share with everyone online.
  • If you do low cost things like video with an iPhone or similar device, please lock it down so you are not just holding it, holding for a long time in a hand can produce shaky video, you don’t want to make people sea-sick.
  • Use good microphones, not just the microphone inside an iPad or iPhone. 
  • If you have the RightNow media for your church, you can access additional good materials to incorporate for online services, or even additional resources for your congregants during the week.  You could organize and schedule an online mid-week service using something as a discussion starter, etc.
  • Think outside the box on how your congregation can impact the community during this time; how might you be helpful and show that the church cares?
  • Lastly, don’t panic and promote fear.  This is a time to encourage faith and confidence.  Nothing has caught God off guard on what is happening, and He has promised to help His church at all times.

The CARE Act Resources

For even more information and resources, check out www.covid19.ag.org