Ohio Conference Updates on the Coronovirus and Precautions

Ohio Conference Update on the Coronovirus and Precautions

OHIO CONFERENCE RECOMMENDATIONS CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19)
 
[Dayton, OH, March 16, 2020 – For Immediate Release] 
 
Mindful of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and how it is impacting and changing our world each day, Ohio Conference administration has decided to transition the operations of our conference office building in Dayton to virtual operations.
 
After the close of business today, March 17, 2020, all employees will work from home through Thursday, March 26, 2020. Conference administrators will reevaluate the situation that on that date to decide if virtual operations will need to be extended.     Conference staff will make every effort to ensure day-to-day operations continue without interruption. 
 
Rather than disrupting ministry, conference leaders are using recent events as an opportunity for continued ministry both within and around the conference. • Conference office employees will continue to worship each Monday via Zoom.  • More than 50 pastors met together during a two-hour teleconference and shared how they were ministering innovatively in their areas and will have regular meetings throughout this pandemic.  • New ministry resources are being compiled and shared on the conference website for churches and ministry programs transitioning to digital platforms. • Resources and options for innovative ministry outside digital platforms are also being collected and shared. • New ways for members to continue to financially support their church (local and worldwide) are being utilized. Church buildings may be closed, but financial responsibilities remain. AdventistGiving is the easiest option for churches, but tithe may also be mailed to local church treasurers or the Ohio Conference office.    The Ohio Conference thanks each one of you for helping ministry to continue. Ministry takes on many forms, from your local church family to your neighborhood community. This is your opportunity to “be the church” in new and mighty ways.
 
“Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16, MEV)

Events surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak are certainly unprecedented, but from Adventist prophetic perspectives not surprising. What I believe is surprising is maybe how ill prepared we are to meet the challenges something like the Coronavirus is pressing upon us with social distancing and not being able to connect in our normal routine of worship and fellowship. At this point, worship for churches is either not happening at all or is taking place via livestream only. Although you may be in a small group of less than ten people, CDC recommendations are saying casual type gatherings should be avoided, as they defeat the purpose of isolation to contain the transmission of the disease. The question then, what can we as a church learn at this time?

Isolation. Although we are now supposed to be practicing social distancing, I would say we are already far too comfortable and used to isolating ourselves. Stop and think. How many of us have meaningful relationships with fellow church members outside of Sabbath morning, where many people attend only worship services, foregoing Sabbath School, fellowship meals, a walk together or in-home fellowship Sabbath afternoon? Far too often, once the worship service ends so does our ministry and unity.

Small groups would go a long way in helping stop this isolation. Besides a time spent gaining a deeper walk with God, it would also help develop a deeper walk with each other. Relationships would be transformed from the superficial to life-long bonds we are looking forward to continuing in eternity. This connectedness through small groups would also go a long way in helping close the backdoor of the church, while at the same time expanding the open door at the front to those seeking and searching for the hope and truth which exist only in Jesus.

Technology. Will technology save us? Certainly not, but it could be a real help. Walk into even a small business and often you’ll find a free Wi-Fi signal to allow your smart devices or computers to connect. Walk into many churches and what do you find? Nothing. Now I’m not advocating getting internet in churches for people merely to be able surf the web. They’ll do that anyway. But there are a host of great things available through being connected online. 

Those who are old enough, and I’m starting to date myself here, remember when Mission Spotlight was a carousel of slides mailed from church to church, but how often is Mission Spotlight shown in your church now? Why, did it disappear, no! It’s online at www.AdventistMission.org. This is just one example. 

Do you have people who don’t hear so well? Products exist which utilize a church’s Wi-Fi signal to send the audio signal to an app on a person’s phone or tablet. Allowing them to hear more clearly what is being said in the service.

Live-streaming services is also another possibility. At Springfield First, we found it helps connect members in a variety of ways. Besides the mere outreach potentials, it really has helped members who are recovering from surgeries or are sick to feel they are still connected to their family. Families who are vacationing have stayed connected through online worship. Even prayer requests come in via chat at prayer time. For those who are homebound, churches could also consider looking at the used market for tablets and consider a ministry to provide internet services if necessary. 

Another part of worship, giving of our tithes and offerings increased at Springfield First when we included the option to use www.AdventistGiving.org.  Why? Many people today simply don’t carry cash or have actual bank accounts which use checks. Some merely find the convenience of online giving simplifies things in their already busy life.

While what is happening because of COVID-19 is distressing, I believe God gives us times like these to stop and reflect on what really matters, both personally and corporately. Ministry doesn’t need to and really shouldn’t stop at times like these. The question is more about what are we doing to be effective disciples for the kingdom no matter what is going on around us.

 

Until Further Notice: Newark SDA Church is suspending Church Potlucks, Communion Services and Social Activities