Beloved in Christ Jesus:
Thanks for all the ways you continue to extend the love and grace of God made known in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ to more and more and more people. I don’t stop giving thanks to God for you when I remember you in my prayers. (Ephesians 1:16)
Fall is officially upon us! With the cooler weather we are all facing additional challenges keeping everyone as safe as possible. Flu season has begun. Outside meetings and services will be moving inside. Windows and doors will need to be kept closed. This movement into closed rooms brings with it a whole new set of risks.
First, let me remind us that this is not the time to get comfortable and let our guards down. I understand that we are all tired. We want to hug our friends, go out to eat or a movie, and sit in Bible study without a mask. But we have the power to keep the dire predictions about increased spread, hospitalizations, and deaths from coming true.
We can be even more vigilant about cleaning our hands, sanitizing community spaces, keeping social distances, and wearing our masks. We can make sure our families receive a flu shot and encourage others to do likewise. As we move inside to a closed environment we also need to think about the quality of our air. While we could keep our windows and doors open, we were assured of keeping the air moving, replacing inside air which could possibly be contaminated with clean outside air. With windows closed, we will need to rely on our HVAC equipment to keep our air moving.
Experts are recommending that organizations be aware of the air exchange rate (the exchange of outside air for inside air) of their current equipment. They are also recommending that air filters be replaced more frequently and with high quality filters. Because much of this depends on the size and occupancy of your church and the type of equipment that you use, we recommend that you have a licensed HVAC specialist come and inspect your equipment. They can make recommendations to keep your air clean and your congregation as safe as possible.
Fall is also a time when many congregations reach out to their communities with events such as Trunk or Treat, Fifth Quarter celebrations for youth, Outward Bound Basketball, and Thanksgiving dinners. As I am sure that you are already doing, these events need to be thought out carefully to insure the health of your volunteers and community.
John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, once said, “Do all the good you can, in all the ways you can, to all the souls you can, in every place you can, at all the times you can, with all the zeal you can, as long as ever you can.” He also reminded people that the gospel calls us to “do no harm.” This pandemic has challenged us in ways that we never dreamed possible as we try to hold these two right things in balance with each other – doing good while doing no harm. But the people called Methodists have always found that with God’s help we can do anything and even in a pandemic, we will continue to bring Glory to God and keep each other safe.
Yours in Christ,
+Bishop Gregory V. Palmer