The Church of the Brethren staff planning events this spring and summer do not intend to make any cancellations because of the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus). However, they are assessing risks and monitoring information from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and other health authorities to plan ahead for eventualities and circumstances beyond their control.
Brethren Disaster Ministries staff also are preparing a COVID-19 webpage with information and advice for church members, congregations, and districts, to be updated on a regular basis.
Denominational events this spring and summer include the Christian Citizenship Seminar in New York City and Washington, D.C., in late April; the “New and Renew” conference at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., in mid-May; National Young Adult Conference at Montreat Conference Center in North Carolina, in late May; workcamps for youth and adults at many different sites across the country and in Rwanda, over the summer; Brethren Disaster Ministries rebuilding projects and Children’s Disaster Services trainings and deployments; and Annual Conference in Grand Rapids, Mich., in early July.
Staff will be monitoring the CDC’s recommendations for gatherings, and will make decisions that are contextually appropriate. Sensible prevention measures will be taken at denominational events this year, including encouragement for participants to stay at home if they are sick. Registered participants who become sick should immediately contact the event staff.
Participants at denominational events should avoid hugs and handshakes and instead greet each other with a wave or an elbow bump; wash their hands frequently; carry and use hand sanitizer; cover their coughs and sneezes with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash, or cough or sneeze into their elbows; and avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. Church staff will work with venues to make sure frequently touched surfaces and objects are cleaned daily.
Circumstances out of the control of Church of the Brethren staff that might force cancellations include a serious outbreak of COVID-19 in the immediate vicinity of an event, a cancellation by the venue or organization hosting an event, and health authorities banning gatherings or travel in the area where an event is held, among others.
Those who have registered for events and conferences will be kept informed and updated through regular emails. Specific questions may be directed to the staff who are organizing each particular event.
Request for prayer
The Church of the Brethren staff ask the denomination to join them in prayer for the people, families, and communities who have been affected by COVID-19 in the United States and around the world, especially for those who have lost loved ones to the disease.
The staff also requests prayer for God’s blessing for the church’s events this spring and summer, in trust that the Holy Spirit will provide wise discernment for planning, and that the events will nurture and strengthen the lives and spirits of all who attend.