The leadership of the North American Division of the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church (NAD), in consultation with the leaders of the nine union conferences in the NAD, is providing some guidance for the churches and schools in our territories regarding the impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
As Christians we have a responsibility to care for each other and ourselves. With the World Health Organization now declaring COVID-19 to be a pandemic, we should be seen as part of the solution rather than potentially becoming part of the problem.
In seeking to limit the potential impact of COVID-19, the NAD administration has voted that all staff should cease all travels immediately. Administration has prohibited work-related travel until June 24, 2020.
In addition, NAD administration has voted to cancel NAD-sponsored events and meetings scheduled to take place before June 24. The NAD Human Resource Services Conference and Union and Local Secretaries Council, scheduled for April 26-28, has been cancelled. The CALLED Pastors’ Family Convention, scheduled for June 20-24, 2020, has been rescheduled for the summer of 2022. Cancellation notices for several NAD events have already been issued, including the Pathfinder Bible Experience and Sonscreen Film Festival.
We, in support of our unions and local conferences, are asking our churches and schools to follow guidelines being established by their local and state governments regarding public meetings and size limits on gatherings. Many state governments are limiting the size of gatherings to 250 people or less. Some areas are even reducing that number to 100 people.
In light of these restrictions, and to maintain a healthy environment for our local communities, we are supporting our unions and local conferences in suggesting that churches and schools strongly reconsider the need to meet over the next two weeks. If churches have live-streaming capabilities, those options should be utilized to provide virtual church services for their members.
[A short list of churches that provide online services can be found here.]
The goal of these temporary changes is to provide a buffer of protection to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. Care should always be taken to follow the simple health care guidelines provided by the CDC* and medical experts. These include:
- Careful washing of your hands with soap and water; and using sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol when washing hands is not possible.
- Covering of your mouth and nose while coughing and sneezing. If you don’t have tissue paper available, then utilize your arm or sleeve to cover your mouth and nose.
- Maintain a safe distance from others; and avoid shaking hands, giving hugs, etc.
- Sanitize your living and work areas daily.
- Stay at home if you are sick.
- Seek medical treatment if you have any of the symptoms associated with COVID-19.
Even in these uncertain times we urge all our members to stay connected with family, friends, and church members through phone calls, texts, emails, social media, etc. We can encourage and support one another through these avenues of communication — and through prayer. We urge each member to also continue to support the mission of the church.
Some of our members may consider these guidelines extreme, but we take cautious guidance from Ellen G. White: “God will not work a miracle to keep those from sickness who have no care for themselves, but are continually violating the laws of health and make no efforts to prevent disease. When we do all we can on our part to have health, then may we expect that the blessed results will follow, and we can ask God in faith to bless our efforts for the preservation of health” (Councils on Health, p. 59).
*Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
In addition to these resources, please check with your local churches, conferences, and/or unions for information on closings, cancellations and preventative measures.
Adventist Risk Management’s webpage link: https://adventistrisk.org/en-us/safety-resources/solutions-newsletter/2020/march/information-regarding-coronavirus-covid19-naden
General Conference Adventist Health Ministries article by Dr. Peter Landless: http://healthministries.com/articles/homepage/coronavirus-update
U.S. Department of State travel advisory page link: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/traveladvisories.html/
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 link: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
World Health Organization COVID-19 link: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019
CDC COVID-19 Resources for Households link: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/home/index.html