Notes from Conference Call with Church Leaders from across PA

Dr. Rachel Levine, The Pennsylvania Secretary of Health, answered submitted questions. Summary:

  • Churches are considered Life sustaining organizations. It is ok for ministers in communities with stay-in-place orders to travel to their church buildings for office work or to live stream services. 
  • New cases of COVID-19 are doubling every 2-3 days. They are expecting 400 cases a day by the end of the week, 800 next week, and so on. Flatten the curve!!! 
  • The use of live streamed or recorded service for churches is encouraged. 
  • Religious gatherings do not need to cease, but should be done on live streams, etc. for the time being.
  • Follow the guidelines for pastoral visits. Wait until the curve is bent down and restrictions have been lifted to do in person visitations. 
  • The greatest needs from churches is to provide spiritual care. Leave medical advice to the experts. 
  • Limit the number of people who gather together to produce your livestream services. It was asked if 5-6 people would be ok – the answer was “as few as possible.” One person if possible. 
  • It’s unknown when this time of distancing from one another will pass. April & May could be challenging months. Pray that it’s better by June. 
  • Don’t make any plans for church gatherings until told mass gatherings are ok by the governor’s office.
  • The news of new drugs is uncertain. They are untested. 
  • Continue food ministries if your congregation is involved in them. But practice all the guidelines that have been given out regarding handwashing, social distancing, and the like. 
  • The Coronavirus is more severe than the flu.
  • The State will not prevent religious services from happening. Churches will not be shut down by the authorities. 
  • Funerals & Weddings are not prohibited. But use wisdom and strictly follow guidelines for social distancing and hand washing. 
  • If you are delivering food, medicine, and supplies to people, practice safety guidelines. Leave the supplies on the doorstep, leave the proximity of the door, and inform them that their supplies have arrived (maybe over the phone). 
  • A sign that COVID-19 is under control will be there is a decrease in the number of cases in a sustained pattern.
  • Covid-19  is not a flu virus. We don’t know if, like the flu, this will be seasonal. So much is not known right now..
  • There is little chance of the virus passing through charitable donations. Normal cleaning should prevent transmissions.
  • Could we have a sunrise service outside and practice social distancing? This would not be prohibited. But will people abide and stay the proper distance apart?
  • Churches should feel free to prepare meals for each other. But follow guidelines for handwashing and social distancing. 
  • Could a church have a “drive-by” service for prayer? This would not be prohibited but you would need to find a way to practice social distancing. 
  • Dr. Levine finished the service with the following phrase she concludes all of her press conferences with: Stay calm. Stay home. Stay safe.
  • The most up-to-date information can be found at health.pa.gov  and/or from the CDC

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *