MEMO FROM THE P.E.C re: COVID-19

MEMORANDUM TO: Bishops, Ministers, Congregations, Chair of District Conferences, Auxiliaries Leaders, Presidents of MMA & MWF and Youth Coordinators

FROM: Provincial Elders’ Conference (PEC) SUBJECT: Guidance Re: Coronavirus (COVID-19)

DATE: March 13, 2020

Dear Brothers & Sisters,By now most of you would have heard that Jamaica confirmed its eighth case of COVID-19. These are two individuals who have travelled from the UK.This memo seeks to alert all stakeholders of the need to practice good hygiene. Our local health authorities are promoting Healthy Hygienic practices. The Ministry of Health is advising that there are simple precautions that everyone can take to prevent respiratory illness including COVID-19.

Heads of Churches, including Jamaica Council of Churches (JCC) members, and other Faith-based group/s, met with the Health & Wellness Minister and Ministry of Health & Wellness (MOHW) personnel on Thursday, March 12, 2020. Here are some Highlights from the meeting:

1. Every Organization/Church needs to have a Disaster Management Plan. To this end please put a Disaster Management Committee in place to respond emergencies.

2. Leaders must be prepared to Communicate! Communicate! and constantly Communicate with stakeholders!

3. Listen to/for the Ministry of Health and Wellness [MOHW] updates and instructions and adhere to them.

4. While the MOHW/Government is not restricting meeting for worship, there is need to understand that if COVID-19 continues to increase, especially through community spread (non-imported cases), the decision needs to be taken whether or not we continue to gather in one place. MOHW encouraged Churches to do service/activities using social media if possible.

5. Funerals and weddings will need to be held, BUT we must encourage small gatherings and exercise caution.

6. All sanctuaries need to have SOAP & WATER in the bathrooms.

7. Sanitize commonly used areas frequently and after every event using bleach, Lysol, etc.NB. Those with underlying health challenges are particularly urged to exercise caution and seek medical care should you develop respiratory condition.We urge all of us to take every precautionary measure to aid in the prevention and control of the spread of COVID-19.

These include but not limited to:

 Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use an alcoholic based sanitizing gel.

 When coughing or sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with your flexed elbow or with a tissue.Dispose of the tissue immediately and wash your hands

 Resist touching your faces.

 Stay away from public spaces and gatherings, as much as possible. Do not engage in non-essential travels.

 Maintain a distance of at least one meter from persons who are coughing or sneezing

 Avoid touch through passing the peace, hugging or hand-shaking.

 Those preparing the elements for communion should ensure that their hands are properly sanitized.

 Those distributing the elements at Holy Communion should opt to have congregants taking them from the tray themselves.

 On the advice of Dr. Copeland please suspend Infant Baptism until further notice.

 Adult Baptism may continue in large water bodies.

 Look out for and check on each other, especially those who we know have health challenges

 Let us pray for each other, that we will be spared from death, and that the worldwide spread anddeaths will be curtailed.

N.B. THE SPECIAL CONFERENCE PLANNED FOR MARCH 28, 2020 TO FILL THE VACANCY ON THE PEC HAS BEEN POSTPONED FOR A DATE TO BE ANNOUNCED .

Stay safe and keep healthy.