The emergence and spread of the novel Coronavirus, or COVID-19 as designated by the World Health Organization, has faith leaders considering appropriate response and responsibility. This developing situation reminds us of the interconnectedness of the world; we are all connected as part of God’s good creation. People of faith respond to such developing situations with compassion and care first, rather than fear and panic, because of the courage that faith inspires.
TWO IMPORTANT TASKS...
As with any developing situation, some media reports can be more harmful than helpful, inspiring fear and anxiety, even outright panic. As people of faith, we are called to remember two important tasks in such situations:
1. We are called to respond first as Christians, as the church, the body of Christ. The first response is compassion and concern, undergirded by prayer and service. Our first impulse is courage, compassion, and faithfulness. Those principles, rather than fear and panic, guide our decisions and actions moving forward. Bias and racial profiling often accompany public crises, as they have in this case. Resist and renounce these temptations in your response to this crisis.
2. Because of our first response, we are also called to inform ourselves about the reality of the developing situation and about known best practices for dealing with the situation in a coherent and faithful way. We must draw on reliable resources for guidance in both preparing for and dealing with this developing situation.
We hope the information on this page can support our faith communities as you discern faithfulness and wise actions in the weeks ahead; we will try out best to update this page as frequently as we deem helpful.
The OGHS COVID RESPONSE is a two-part appeal: one part for relief across the United States and Puerto Rico (domestic); the second part for international relief. Relief efforts, domestically and internationally, will cover a wide range of needs that have been impacted by COVID-19: unemployment, housing, hunger, healthcare, ministry programs, special needs of marginalized populations and communities, and more. Emerging needs will also be considered. OGHS is typically the 2nd quarter ABC special offering. 100% of OGHS donations go to relief efforts; no dollars are retained for administrative costs. HOW TO GIVE:
Give your donation to your church, indicating the appropriate designation noted below, and ask your church to send in your donation along with their monthly mission giving:
Domestic: “OGHS-COVID Recovery: US & PR” |
Global: “OGHS-COVID Response International” |
General Disaster Relief: "OGHS" Click HERE for other ways to give.
During this time of COVID-19 the Milwaukee Christian Center's food pantry has maintained our mission to help those in need. It is hard for families to keep food on their shelf during the everyday normal struggles of life adding COVID pandemic makes it even more difficult. MCC's food pantry has seen an increase beyond the norm of families in need, from March 16th through April 16 MCC has served 876 households which equal to 2,422 individuals. This has put a tremendous financial stress on the pantries food as well as overhead cost. Anything given is greatly appreciated. Thank you for your support. Stay safe. Stay well. Contact Bernadette Arellano, Food Pantry Coordinator, for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org
CONSIDERATIONS: RETURNING TO CHURCH BUILDINGS
WHILE IT IS THE POSITION OF ABC WISCONSIN TO FOLLOW THE STRICTEST OF LOCAL AND COUNTY ORDERS regarding public gatherings and to err on the side of extreme caution with so many unknowns about the continued spread of the coronavirus, we understand that conversations about the church building reopening for public activity are inevitable. To this end, we offer the following resources to aid you in having well-informed and thoughtful discussions and decision-making:
- Badger Bounce Back Plan Gating Criteria and Monitoring
- ABCUSA - Discussion Guide for Reopening Churches from the Office of General Secretary. Lists discussions questions covering building, ministry, and personal considerations. Available in English and Spanish.
- Wisconsin Council of Churches - Guidelines for returning to church buildings with considerations to each phase of WI's Badger Bounce Back Plan
- ABCUSA National Insurance Company -
- CDC Reopening Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting
- Vanderbloemen- Christian Organization Resource Organization - Recorded Webinar Resources -- series of webinars covering different discussion topics for re-opening
- Article about Reopening: "The Risks - Know Them - Avoid Them" by Professor Erin Bromage, Comparative Immunologist and Professor of Biology at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.
- Also see Employer/Employee and Church Building Considerations/Signage resources below
REQUESTING RELIEF FUNDS
All American Baptist national and regional partners including regions, churches, American Baptist Related Organizations such as ABMen and AB Women, ABC related colleges, universities, seminaries, Community Outreach Ministries partners and the American Baptist national network of chaplains, pastoral counselors, spiritual counselors and specialized ministers’ are eligible to apply for these grants. Organizations may apply for a OGHS COVID-19 related grant in one or more of the quarterly cycles. However, priority for awarding grants will be given to organizations who are first time applicants.
Please find attached the OGHS COVID Grant Application form. You may also submit the application online on our website at this link: https://abhms.org/abhms-covid-recovery-grant-application-form. The passcode is: COVID1920
HELP US HELP YOU AND OTHERS...
Journeying Together Through COVID-19 Pandemic and Beyond
ABC/WI Staff and Board of Managers want to hear from you. Please click on the button below to communicate with your ABC/WI Staff and Board of Managers regarding "needs and schemes" of your faith community during these unprecedented times that might either:
* prompt a constructive response from the region staff and/or Board -or-
* edify your fellow ABC/WI brothers and sisters.
A story from Rev. Karen Gygax-Rodriguez, Pastor of Federated Church of Green Lake
"With the help of my son, we created a church YouTube channel by which we can live stream and upload Sunday morning services. We also used a software program called "Switcher Studio" that had a discount for 3 months for non-profit organizations ($30/month). A few of our musicians were able to record videos and my son was able to program them into our Sunday morning worship service. There have been some glitches along the way, (a You Tube update that changed the format of their services; a floppy gimbal which caused the picture to turn sideways on its own) but for the most part we have been able to keep worship services going. With You Tube people are able to chat and greet one another. We've had families from across the country join and greet each other during worship. We've had a lot of views, and decent retention. Besides this, we are sending out the Sunday School Curriculum to families if they wanted to do anything with they children at home. We also added a PayPal feature to our website."
STAY CONNECTED | GET INFORMED.
Previous Communications from ABC/WI
ABC/WI Email Blast Sent on May 14, 2020 | Still Safer-at-Home and Surveys
ABC/WI May Synergy Enews sent on May 6, 2020
Pastoral Letter from Regional Executive Minister, “In This Together” sent on April 20, 2020
ABC/WI April Synergy Enews - COVID-19 Edition (sent on April 1, 2020)
ABC/WI Email Blast Sent on March 25, 2020
ABC/WI Email Blast Sent on March 19, 2020
Initial ABC/WI Email Blast Sent on March 12, 2020
Pastoral Care/Clergy Health Resources
1. In “Ministry during Pandemic: From Awareness to Implementation,” Judson Press and the Rev. Dr. Naomi Kohatsu Paget offer a free and downloadable resource at www.judsonpress.com for ministry in these times.
2. ABC Regional Executive Ministers have put together a brief list of best practices, including pastoral care and recommendations for funerals. Click HERE.
3. A "Guide for Christian Funerals during COVID-19" by the Massachusetts Council of Churches.
4. A Multi-Faith Clergy group on Facebook produced this document, giving suggestions and guidance for worship, technology, giving, and pastoral care.
5. Psychological Perspectives on COVID 19 by Richard Bedrosian, PhD, a brief slide show with links to various practical resources on coping with anxiety, stress, and other psychological and emotion health topics.
6. Mental Health Guide for Faith Leaders - provided by Pathways to Promise, an interfaith cooperative of many faith groups to facilitate the faith community’s work in reaching out to those with mental illnesses and their families.
7. Taking Inventory: Preparing for the Next Phase in Ministry - a Zoom conversation, hosted by ABC/WI and CENTRAL Wisconsin on Thursday, May 21, 2020. Slides from the presentation available: Taking Inventory slides. Also available is an edited audio recording of the event:
CARES Act / PPP Loan
1. Small Business Administration CARES Act Official Information
2. Regarding Loan Forgiveness.
- Work closely with your lender regarding required loan-use documentation
- Inside Charity: Nonprofit PPP Loan forgiveness – How Does it Work?
- Church Law & Tax: Will Your Church’s “Good Faith Certification” for a Paycheck Protection Loan Come into Question?
- Vanderbloemen: Various CARES Act resources and forgiveness info
Worship Service Resources
1. Church Music in the Age of COVID-19, provided by the Wisconsin Council of Churches
2. A sermon "Connected through the Cloud" based on Hebrews 12:1-3 from John Jones, Associate Regional Minister-Education, for all the churches of ABC Wisconsin. Click HERE.
3. A sermon and word of encouragement from Marie Onwubuariri Regional Exec. Minister, to the churches of ABC Wisconsin based on Ephesian 4:11-16. Click HERE.
4. Hymn Medley: Pianist: Marie Onwubuariri
Holy, Holy, Holy; Great is Thy Faithfulness; It is Well With My Soul
5. Blest Be The Tie That Binds (Instrumental): Pianist: Marie Onwubuariri
To listen to the audio file you do need to log into Dropbox; you can listen from any browser window.
Lyrics can be found HERE if you would like to sing along (Note: Time Signature is 4/4)
6. Sample video devotion from Camp Tamarack - from Rev. Kim Drost
8. Ministry Brands: Free Online Ministry Resources
2. CDC guidance for employers and businesses that might be modified for a church setting
3. APA Center for Workplace Mental Health: Working Remotely During COVID-19: Your Mental Health & Well-Being - provided by Dr. Laura Miraz, ABHMS | HRMATTERS.
Church Building Considerations/Signage:
3. Signage: How to Protect Yourself and Others from the CDC
4: Signage/Guideline: Cleaning And Disinfecting Your Facility - from the CDC
5. Signage: How to Handwash - World Health Organization
OTHER FAITH-BASED/COMMUNITY RESOURCES
WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT...
“I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” Matthew 25:35-36 NRSV
‘If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that?’ James 2:15-16 NRSV
Listen to the scriptures and the tradition that speak our identity into existence. The scriptures remind us of who we are in times of crisis: those who respond. However and whatever the response, may we remember first and foremost who (and whose) we are.
Pray for those infected by the coronavirus all around the world.
Pray for the families who have lost loved ones during this pandemic.
Pray with gratitude for those who care for them.
Pray with gratitude for health specialists and authorities who are combatting the spread of infection.
Pray for government officials and leaders to have the wisdom necessary to make necessary and informed decisions out of care for the public good, particularly those most vulnerable.
Pray for all who at this time are feeling anxious.
BASIC HEALTH GUIDANCE
This guidance for all individuals of basic protective measures is drawn from the World Health Organization, and other widely available communications.
- Stay home if you are feeling sick.
- Wash your hands frequently.
- Maintain social distancing.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.
- Practice respiratory hygiene.
- Bleach, alcohol, Lysol and other basic disinfectants are good to use to clean doorknobs, handles, faucets and counter tops.
- Have a good supply of fluids, healthy food, decongestants, anti-inflammatory drugs and acetaminophen for fevers.
- Have a first aid kit, flashlight, space blanket in your car.
- If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early
Click HERE for a brief video from the CDC that provides a basic explanation for how the virus spreads as well as 6 steps you can take to lower your risk of getting sick.
Click HERE for a CNA guide for properly washing your hands.