CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE
Updated 3/18/2020

General Conference and the NAD are working with entities across the country to develop an Operational Plan for church services, meetings, and events. In the interim, we are recommending the following advice for our employees and churches, to assist in the safety and wellbeing of members and visitors.

The US Department of Health and the World Health Organization have informed us that we are in the midst of a global Pandemic of the Covid-19 Coronavirus. Here at the South Central Conference office, we take this announcement and the directives very seriously. The health and safety of the constituency of South Central is our number one priority. We will follow the mandates and the recommendations of our federal and state health agencies as we protect our people and continue to pursue our mission as a church organization.

The latest information from the Federal Government is that in order to fight a coronavirus outbreak, we should avoid gatherings of more than ten (10) people.  THE ADMINISTRATION IS RECOMMENDING THE FOLLOWING ACTIONS AS WE STRIVE TO PROTECT OUR MEMBERS AND EMPLOYEES:

  • SCC Churches will be closed from March 21 to April 11, 2020, for worshipers. Before the end of that period, there will be an assessment based on the latest health information to determine if we will need to extend the closing. The CDC has recommended gatherings no larger than 10 for the next eight weeks.

 

Should you decide to use a small crew for Internet worship, keep in mind the following:

  • Avoid handshakes, hugs, and holy kisses
  • Fist bumps or elbow bumps are another way to greet, and it’s safer
  • Spread-out, distance is a safeguard, 6-10 feet is optimum
  • Be sure the children understand and practice these behaviors
  • Have hand sanitizer available for worshippers as they enter and depart
  • Disinfect commonly used surfaces

 

  • The SCC Office is closed as of the end of business [6:00 p.m.] on Tuesday, March 17, 2020, until further notice from the SCC president. We are transitioning to a virtual office.
    • Phone Contact: Calls received* by the SCC Office phone line [615-226-6500], when you choose to be transferred to an individual/department, will be forwarded directly to their cell phone. [*This is during our business hours of Mon-Thu; 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.]
    • Email: The office staff will be able to receive and respond to emails. Email addresses can be found on our website at https://iamsouthcentral.org/staff/

OR go to iamsouthcentral.org and click on Departments/Ministries ¯ tab

  • All SCC Church Schools will be closed until April 6. All schools have a strategic home-based learning plan in place that encompasses student packets and online instruction. Prior to April 6, an assessment will be made to determine an appropriate course of action from that point.

Some churches are holding live services on-line, using a skeleton crew so members may worship from their homes.  Churches that are not set up for online worship may find out how to do so quickly and easily through this website.  We will also need to be creative in finding ways for members to return their tithe and offerings.  Our treasury department can be helpful in this area.  Please reach out to them for suggestions.

Remember, this is a serious disease and our members are at varying levels of susceptibility depending on their ages and overall health.  The more we do early to stunt the progress of this virus, the less we will have to do later as it spreads.  Our actions will affect many around us.

DIRECTIVES FROM THE US DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH (DOH) AND WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION (WHO)
Every day we get more information concerning the coronavirus and its worldwide spread.  Every day the numbers of infected are rising.  Now declared a global pandemic, coronavirus (called “novel” because it’s never been seen before) has appeared on every continent in the world, except Antarctica.  The number of cases in the U.S. is increasing daily and with greater frequency.  If the current pace of doubling every three days continues, the U.S. could potentially see 100 million cases.

People are anxious, even panicked, and they will be looking to their leaders for both spiritual and practical guidance.  This page will help you fulfill that role.

With the increasing spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus, we are advised to follow the directives from the US Department of Health (DOH) and World Health Organization (WHO). These can be found at the following websites:

GUIDANCE FROM THE GENERAL CONFERENCE HEALTH MINISTRIES DEPT, GC/TED DOCUMENT, THE NORTH AMERICAN DIVISION, AND ADVENTHEALTH:

Additional guidance has also been given by the General Conference Health Ministries Department. GC/TED Document, the NAD and AdventHealth:

We are also bringing our services and functions in line with the General Conference, NAD Health Ministries Departments and the recommendations from the AdventHealth System. We have not faced a situation like this before so I would solicit your prayers and cooperation as we deal with this crisis as it unfolds. We chose to trust God while we make common-sense decisions.

THE SCC ADMINISTRATION IS RECOMMENDING THE FOLLOWING TO PROTECT OUR MEMBERS & EMPLOYEES:

 

SELF-CARE
Remember to take care of yourself so you can care for others.  Eat healthily, sleep well, stay prayed-up and model the behavior you want your members to follow.  Be wise, but also, be humble.

There is currently no vaccine for coronavirus. It is most commonly spread by person-to-person contact, which is the quickest way for any disease to spread.  It can even be passed on by someone who shows no symptoms of illness.  Err on the side of caution.  The above websites will be the best sources of information.  It will be updated regularly.  Be sure to practice:

  • Cleanliness – frequent hand washing and disinfecting of common surfaces
  • Avoid crowds – concerts, sporting events, even large religious gathering

 

ADEQUATE HANDWASHING FACILITIES

  • Churches need to ensure that they have hot water in all bathrooms and kitchens and attend to hot water taps that are not working.
  • Ensure a regular stock of liquid hand soap in all areas. Watered down hand soap does not promote good hygiene. Plan for an adequate stock of soap to prevent depletion.

 

HYGIENE PRACTICES

  • Carry tissues and use them to catch coughs, sneezes and wiping your nose, then carefully bin the tissue and wash your hands.
  • Wash hands with soap and water for 20 seconds and dry thoroughly.
  • Regular hand washing throughout the day is advised.
  • Use toilet tissue to touch toilet handles, bathroom taps, and opening bathroom doors.
  • Use hand sanitizers after touching surfaces.
  • Use knuckles to operate light switches if concerned.
  • Open doors with elbows or tissues if you are worried
  • Personal behavior – avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands

 

HAND SANITIZERS

  • Hand gels are most effective when they contain a minimum of 60% alcohol.
  • Hand gels that state “kills 99% bacteria and viruses” and are between 60- 95% alcohol-based are best.
  • Provide hand sanitizers in foyers, bathrooms, kitchens, church halls, meeting rooms.

 

SOCIAL DISTANCING

  • The recommendation by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Department of Health (DOH) is to stand at least 3 feet away from people who are coughing, sneezing and sniveling. This is to avoid you breathing in tiny droplets that may contain the virus when people cough and sneeze.
  • Social distancing – keep 6-10 feet distance from others, if possible
  • Self-quarantine – if you feel sick in any way, even if it is not the flu, stay at home
  • Avoid crowds – concerts, sporting events, even large religious gathering

 

GREETING EACH OTHER
To protect personal space and prevent the spread of the virus, please adhere to the following:

  • Avoid handshakes, hugging and kissing.
  • Alternatives would be to smile, wave, nod, and bow.

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS
Please make verbal announcements about hand hygiene and greetings as stated above and place in the church bulletin. This needs to be undertaken on a weekly basis to ensure that visitors and members who have been absent from church, will both hear and see the announcements.

PERSONAL BEHAVIOR

  • Avoid touching your face.
  • Viruses can live on surfaces for a few days. When we touch surfaces where the virus may have been deposited, then touch our eyes, nose or mouth, the virus can enter from there.

FEELING UNWELL?

  • Self-quarantine – if you feel sick in any way, even if it is not the flu, stay at home

SYMPTOMS
Common coronaviruses usually cause mild to moderate upper-respiratory tract illnesses, much like the common cold. Symptoms such as fever (100.4 F or above), cough, and shortness of breath may appear. Coronavirus can also sometimes cause illnesses like pneumonia and bronchitis. Most patients with respiratory symptoms do not have COVID-19 and may have a more common illness like the flu.

SELF-ISOLATION
If the above symptoms are present and you are concerned you may have the virus, please remain at home and call your primary care physician, closest urgent care or make a telemedicine appointment for advice. You will be assessed and advised whether you need to be tested for the virus. During self-isolation, or if quarantine is advised by a health professional, you should not use public transportation, attend public places, or go into work, school or church. This could be for a period of 2 weeks.

CHURCH CLEANING
While the services are in suspension, the sanitation and maintenance of the facility should continue. As the COVID-19 Coronavirus lives on surfaces for a few days, it is advised to ensure a thorough cleaning of the church premises each week.

  • The church caretaker/cleaner should be advised to undertake a thorough cleaning each week attending to church benches, door handles, church rails, light switches and all surfaces in bathrooms, kitchens and meeting places.
  • Deacons and deaconesses may need to assist in the general cleanliness of the church environment and attend to surface cleaning as advised above.

OLDER MEMBERS AND INDIVIDUALS WITH CHRONIC ILLNESSES

  • It is important to keep in touch with our older members and those with ongoing health conditions during this time. They are the most vulnerable to the virus.
  • Keeping in touch with them so they do not feel isolated is essential. You may do this through regular phone calls to see how they are doing and to ensure they have adequate resources such as food items and essential utilities.

SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP
Keep your members informed about your church’s schedule and needed changes.  We recommend postponing public evangelistic meetings for the time being.

This is an opportunity for spiritual leadership.  Encourage serious times of prayer in every home.  In addition to your own family and church, remember to pray for the world.  Watch for opportunities to point people to Christ.  The Lord will use crises to awaken the minds and warm the hearts of some who have been distracted by the things of the world.  Be sure to practice yourself the things you urge your members to do.  Be a godly example.  God be with you!