As Episcopal Relief & Development says on its website
Our role in responding [to an epidemic], as churches, dioceses, and compassionate Christians, is to:
- Combat fear with knowledge in order to encourage preparedness and decrease stigma.
- Maintain operational continuity and continue worship life in the case of potential quarantine and disruption.
- Show God’s compassion and care to those in our communities who are affected.
These are general guidelines; decisions should be made in collaboration with Church leadership and health authorities, based on local practices and safety concerns.
Other suggestions include the following:
- Say a prayer during the service for people who are ill and mail prayer cards to their homes.
- Consider making worship services available by live-streaming so those who are sick can still participate in the worshiping community.
- Perform routine environmental cleaning in the sanctuary, kitchen hall and other spaces where people gather.
- Bolster outreach ministries to prepare to help low-income hourly workers who call out of work. Encourage those who may consider going to work for the sake of income to stay home because you can offer assistance.
- Sick leave policies should be flexible, non-punitive and consistent with public health guidance. and Employees should be made aware of the policies, realizing that employees may need to take time off for themselves or to care for loved ones in their household.
- Do not require a healthcare provider’s note for employees who are sick with acute respiratory illness to validate their illness or to return to work–healthcare provider offices are extremely busy and may recommend that people only come in if absolutely necessary.
- Provide disposable wipes for employees to clean off surfaces like laptops and desks.
- Perform phone checks on the elderly, vulnerable, and those who live alone. Be prepared to deliver groceries and other necessities for those who might be unable to obtain them.
- Check out this Faith-Based Community Checklist from the Centers for Disease Control.
Finally, please let your diocese know how we can support you. We will update these guidelines with additional information as it becomes available.
Heavenly Father, giver of life and health: Comfort and relieve your sick servants, and give your power of healing to those who minister to their needs, that those for whom our prayers are offered may be strengthened in their weakness and have confidence in your loving care; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
The Rt. Rev. Susan Brown Snook
Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego