We are thankful for the resources and suggestions provided to pastors and churches related to steps that need to be taken to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. What we have not seen or heard much discussion about is suggestions for when someone in the church family tests positive. The sad reality is that we need to be prepared for what we hope and pray does not occur. We think there are multiple levels of response:
First, we need to ensure proper ministering to the person battling the virus, as well as with the family. Ministry communication with them is key to being able to serve them well. Ensuring they have the medication, food and supplies they need will demonstrate their church family’s love and care for them. Regular communication with them will help meet their spiritual and emotional needs during uncertain times. This is a time to call the church to prayer and lead them to minister in the strength of the Lord.
Second, there needs to be quick and clear communication with the church family. Church membership needs to be provided with the timeline of potential exposure. Sharing when the symptoms manifested and when the person was last in a church gathering will help proper steps to be taken. Church members may want to know who has tested positive, but it is not appropriate to share this type of personal medical information. This is also a good time to remind the church of the protocols that been in place such as: cleaning, social distancing measures and changes made in services.
Third, there could be inquiries from the media and public about the situation. We offer assistance to all pastors and churches through what we do together as Oklahoma Baptists in these situations. The communication staff of Oklahoma Baptists has experience with such responses and can provide resources for media interaction. We encourage you to contact us to assist in formulating your response.
Editor’s Note: The preceding article is intended to offer practical tips and does not constitute medical or legal advice.