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Southern Baptist Convention entities provide resources to help churches respond to COVID-19

March 13th, 2020 / By: Jane Rodgers | TEXAN Correspondent / comments

Southern Baptist Convention entities provide resources to help churches respond to COVID-19

DALLAS  As COVID-19 spread to over 100 countries and claimed more than 4,000 lives worldwide, on March 11 the World Health Organization designated the virus a pandemic. U.S. national response to the crisis has ranged from the president’s declaration of a 30-day travel ban on most travel from Europe to the National Basketball Association’s cancellation of the remainder of the season to many universities shifting the remainder of their spring semesters to online-only.

Churches, too, are responding, even as Easter season approaches. Members with flu or viral symptoms are urged to stay home. Cleaning crews are working overtime to disinfect surfaces and ensure safe environments.

Many SBTC churches are engaged in watchful waiting, especially in areas where the virus is not yet prevalent. Frank Corte, director of church administration at University Baptist Church in San Antonio, told the TEXAN that his church is “paying attention,” listening to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisories and discouraging sick employees from coming to work.

“We’ve got to be prudent, but at the same time, we don’t want to live in fear,” Corte said.

To help churches prepare for what could happen, Southern Baptist Convention entities are responding to the crisis with resources for pastors and congregations.

GuideStone, the SBC’s financial services organization, created a resource page “Coronavirus: Preparation and Information” on its website with links to “trusted resources” on COVID-19. Type “COVID-19” into the GuideStone webpage search feature to access the following or simply click here: https://www.guidestone.org/Promotions/Coronavirus. 

The link takes visitors to postings by the CDC and WHO and a “coronavirus dashboard” from earlyAlert.com featuring up-to-date information on areas to which the virus has spread, numbers of cases and casualties, travel restrictions and advisories.

The GuideStone coronavirus web page features links concerning risk assessment from the CDC, strategic preparedness from the WHO and employer obligations during pandemics from risk management and employee benefits giant Lockton. For those participating in GuideStone’s medical plans, links to Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, Teledoc and Express Scripts also appear.

The GuideStone web link designated “Prevention/Planning Guidance for Churches and Ministries” leads to the CDC’s guidelines specifically geared for faith-based organizations: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/organizations/guidance-community-faith-organizations.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-community-faith-organizations.html.

The CDC “Prevention” link includes tips for planning, acting and following up in event of a COVID-19 outbreak in one’s community.

In addition to GuideStone’s web resources, LifeWay, through its Ministry Grid service, is also offering free online training videos and downloadable resources relevant to the COVID-19 pandemic.

To access the free course, “How to Prepare for the Coronavirus at Your Church,” visit https://ministrygrid.com/coronavirus, click on the “Access this course” link and either log in to your LifeWay account or create one. You will then be able to access the following four training 4-16 minute videos:

  • How to Create a Pandemic Response Plan for Your Church
  • Three Phases of a Pandemic Response Plan
  • Your Church's Leadership Pipeline in a Pandemic Response Plan
  • Pandemic Planning Considerations

Ministry Grid downloads available include sample pandemic response policies and sample planning consideration documents for your church. Also downloadable are documents concerning cleaning considerations for churches, a checklist for guest services, a checklist for kids ministry, cleaning considerations for kids ministry and a well-child policy for kids ministry.

The LifeWay Ministry Grid course also includes links to the CDC’s Preparing for the Flu Communication Toolkit and Faith-Based Organization Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Checklist.