Initial Response to the Coronavirus Outbreak 3/12/2020

Greetings! I am writing this because the COVID-19 Coronavirus outbreak is quickly escalating, and I want you to know that I am staying on top of the situation the best I can. I know there is a lot of information floating around and there is a lot to take in. I did not want to rush a response, but I also know that things are progressing quickly. As you may have seen, many national sports have been suspended. Eastern Illinois University has extended their spring break by a week and are looking at having classes online instead of in the classroom. Travel restrictions are beginning to come into play. However, I want to stress that I don’t want anyone to panic. This is not the time for fear. This is the time to be strengthened in our diligence. God gave us reason so that we could respond appropriately when situations arise. I’m here tonight to offer my measured response.

I do not see the need as of right now to cancel services this Sunday. Instead, I’m going to encourage a few behaviors to help offset any risk and help to keep us all healthy and safe. The first is that I personally will not be engaging in physical contact. I hate to say that I won’t do handshakes and hugs, but it is temporary measure to help ensure safety for us all. With that, I am strongly recommending that others follow suit. I will be exchanging smiles and bows. I do not want to give up exchanging signs of love and peace, but I also want to use caution in this trying time.

It is easy to say that it won’t come to our area. That we are far away from all the travel hubs and places where it will be prominent. The reality is that many of us visit with relatives from other areas and many of us travel quite often. I live in a community with a college that sees people traveling quite a bit, including weekends to highly populated areas and coming back to town. It can happen here. I do not want to shy away from that reality. No matter how likely, I would rather be the one who prepares than to be the one who is caught unaware. To note a parable, I would rather be the bridesmaid that took extra oil for the lamp and not need it than to be the one who brought no oil and needed it.

I will be awaiting guidance from the district and the conference as well, and I will update you with any new information or recommendation that they have. There has not been anything stated that I am aware of as of now. I will keep you all informed.

In short, please wash your hands and stay safe. Use reason and stay calm. God will see us through this but let us not put the Lord to the test. Be wise, be safe, be healthy, be blessed.

Praying for you always,

Rev. Cameron D St.Michael

For more information, please see the CDC website.

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