West Florida District Coronavirus Update, March 27:
While we are all still dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic at different levels, it is safe to say we are none untouched. Everyday we seem to learn of another friend or fellow servant of the Lord that has tested positive and is fighting this serious virus. I am reminded of John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” We stand on the promise that the gift of His peace is not like the peace offered by the world and neither will it ever be taken away from us, His children. Our entire team is continuing to lift you up and to make ourselves available to serve you in any way that we can during this difficult time.
We continue to attempt to be prudent, and at the same time not fearful, during this season. As of today, March 27, 2020, the President of the United States continues to ask that there be no meetings of 10 or more people in attendance until at least March 30. Meanwhile, Governor Ron Desantis has made additions to the executive order he issued on March 9, 2020. Here is an excerpt from his recent additions:
A. I hereby direct the State Surgeon General and State Health Officer to issue a public health advisory to all persons over 65 years of age urging them to stay home and to take such other measures as necessary to limit their risk of exposure to COVID-19.
B. I further direct the State Surgeon General and State Health Officer to issue a public health advisory to persons that have a serious underlying medical condition that places them at a high risk ofsevere illness from COVID-19. Consistent with CDC guidance, such conditions include, but not limited to, chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma; serious heart conditions; immunocompromised status, including those in cancer treatment; and severe obesity. The Surgeon General‘s advisory must urge these persons to stay home and to take such other measures as necessary to limit their risk of exposure to COVID-19.
Section 2. I hereby direct the State Surgeon General and State Health Officer to issue a public health advisory against all social or recreational gatherings of 10 or more people.
Section 3. I hereby direct the State Surgeon General and State Health Officer to issue a public health advisory to those who can work remotely urging them to do so.
These additions will remain in effect, along with the original executive order, until May 8, 2020 unless the Governor states differently. State and local authorities have the final jurisdiction in these matters under current state of emergency.
The West Florida District’s position remains that all West Florida District churches comply with these and all other recommendations by the Federal, State, and Local authorities. Every church should take this matter serious and adopt a plan of action that will assure the safest possible path to continue to be the Church in their local community while remaining in compliance with the recommendations.
Here are 10 recommendations for our churches in West Florida:
- Pray and do not fear.
Be “The Church” even in these difficult times. Look for opportunities to serve your community. (Check with local agencies, such as your school district, to see where you and your church could best serve your community during this time.)
Stay alert to all current statements from local, state and national agencies.
Follow the current recommendations by the C.D.C. (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/organizations/guidance-community-faith-organizations.html), as well as local, state or federal agencies. (Churches could be liable if they do not follow these recommendations should someone contract the virus at your meeting).
Take appropriate measures to sanitize your facilities after every meeting even though there are less than 10 in attendance.
When meeting with less than 10 people, still use appropriate hygienic measures. Allow six feet of distance between persons, and discontinue practices where germs can easily spread, such as holding or shaking hands, hugging, passing offering or communion plates, etc.
Have hand sanitizer available for all who attend the meeting.
For their own protection, the elderly, those with weakened immune systems, and those who are feeling ill should all be discouraged from attending any public meeting, or any space where they will mingle with the public. This is not easy and should be done with clarity and care. Additionally, all others should be discouraged from leaving a public space and then having contact with those who are at risk.
If you do not already have an online service platform, offer something as easy as Facebook Live during this time. Our District Team stands ready to help you set this up if you need assistance (Craig.firstname.lastname@example.org.)
If you do not already have an online giving platform, we will allow your church to have a “giving cause” on the giving page of our website that will allow your people to give. We will then send the funds to your local church on a weekly basis. The District will absorb the administrative fee for this service. Our District Team will assist you with this if you request it. (email@example.com) They will also assist you with creating your own online giving platform if you so desire. Remind people of the church’s mailing address so they can mail in their contributions.
While this list is not all inclusive and will need to be adjusted to meet the needs of each assembly, it is a starting point for you. None of this has taken God by surprise. He is still in control and will take care of His People and His Church.
THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
- We trust the May 8, 2020 date is a worse-case scenario, however, we are encouraging churches to think beyond this weekend as it relates to online services and other restrictions. We hope to have more clarity on this early next week. We will advise you as soon as we have further information.
- The District Office is currently operating in a remote capacity. You may still reach our offices by calling the District Office numbers as usual. Our new internet-based phone system will allow all calls to be routed to the appropriate individual or department. We trust this will keep any interruptions of ministry to a minimal.
- Our District Financial Team, led by Bro. Mark Jakelsky, is working on a plan to assist churches in applying for the Federal Financial Assistance that is being made available through the stimulus package.
- We are also working on a plan to present to the District Presbytery Board to offer immediate assistance to our churches and ministers who may be experiencing financial hardship due to the current situation.
- We hope to have more information available on these and other assistance plans by early next week.
After conferring with our District Presbytery Board, the following decisions have been made concerning certain District events:
- FINE ARTS FESTIVAL – Fine Arts has been moved to a virtual platform. Please contact Craig and Dana Hicks for more information.
- SR. PASTOR L.I.F.T.s – All L.I.F.T.s that were scheduled over the next 8 weeks have been cancelled and will be rescheduled as soon as we are able.
- MISSION TRIPS – The trip planned for April 13-18 to Appalachia, has been cancelled and will be rescheduled for the Fall. No final decision has been made yet on the A.I.M. Trip to Ecuador in July.
- DISTRICT COUNCIL 2020 – The District Presbytery determined that it would be in the best interest of all concerned to postpone District Council that was scheduled for May 3-5, until a later date, most likely in the early Fall. All ministers and churches will receive an official written notice of this change with the proposed new dates in the next few days. This year we are blessed to have the largest Ordination Class in the history of our District. All Ordination Candidates will receive a letter soon explaining the full ramifications of this change.
All other District Events are being assessed and we will update you as to changes as final decisions are made. Please check with the appropriate Departmental Director if you need assistance.
Please know that our Team continues to closely monitor this ever-changing situation and will keep you updated. Do not hesitate to call should you need anything.
URGENT PRAYER REQUESTS: Ron Maddux, Greg Mundis, Sandy Mundis, Andy Raatz, Nancy Raatz, Phyllis Benigas, Thomas Carpenter, Avon Fowler, Deryll Turner, Our Churches, Our Missionaries and their families, Our National, State, and Local Leaders, The Leaders of our AG Fellowship, & many more.
Thomas L. Moore
West Florida District Council of the Assemblies of God
4792 Highway 90 | Marianna, Florida 32446 | (850) 482- 2986