For many churches, mission experiences provide valuable opportunities for members to learn about new people and places, form lasting relationships, and be the hands and feet of Jesus to people near and far. Yet in this uncertain time, you may be wondering if you should be thinking about mission at all!
Here's what we know: traveling anywhere in the near future with a group of people is not advisable, so if you have a mission experience planned in April, now is the time to cancel it. If your group has flexibility around when it can travel, you may be able to reschedule for later this year.
Here's what we don't know: beyond April, we cannot know what travel - or life in general - will look like. Health officials are currently predicting that the spread of the COVID-19 virus should peak in late April or early May - but that's a best guess. The months of May and June could turn out to be a fine time to travel - or it could be a really bad idea.
So, if you are planning a mission experience in May or June, you should try to remain flexible, realizing that your plans could change at any time. For mission experiences in July or August, the virus may be better under control by then, but considering the unprecedented nature of this pandemic, we cannot know that for certain. At this point, we would not advise you to cancel any plans, but be prepared for changes to occur as we learn more. New information becomes available daily, sometimes hourly, so adaptability is key.
And please keep in mind that the situation here may be very different from what is happening elsewhere, so it's important to follow the advice of leaders both in our local context and in the places we seek to go.
In the meantime, opportunities abound for doing mission in your own community - delivering groceries to vulnerable people or supporting organizations caring for those who are disabled, homeless, or unemployed.
If at any time your team needs guidance on whether to travel or not, feel free to reach out to Dee Stickley-Miner, Director of Connectional Ministries, at dstickley [at] wocumc.org.