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Dear CME Church family,

Our prayer is that you are weathering the challenges of the Coronavirus pandemic, sustained by faith and surrounded by God's love and mercy!

To those who have experienced the virus up close, as a patient or a family member, and to those who have lost loved ones, we offer special prayers. We thank the pastors, chaplains and laity who have extended themselves to do acts of mercy and pastoral care to victims of COVID-19 and their families. We congratulate those pastors and congregations who have used technology as a means of staying connected and offering worship and bible study.

As the states begin to implement re-opening plans and churches have been declared "essential" by the President, it can be confusing to know what to do and when to resume in-person worship services and other church activities. We wish it were such that we could give specific directives about how to do this safely, but the situation changes daily and varies across the United States.

This virus is affecting African-Americans more than others, and many of our members are in the high-risk age group and/or have pre-existing conditions. Therefore, we urge you to exercise caution, utilize wisdom and proceed slowly and deliberately in making decisions about resuming in-person services. And, as you consider how to resume in-person services and other activities, we ask that you do the following:

1) follow the directives of the local and state governments where your church is located;

2) take necessary precautions to safeguard congregations and prepare the sanctuaries in accordance with CDC guidelines and recommendations, such as social distancing seating, sanitizing, hand washing, and wearing masks;

3) follow any guidelines, expectations or requirements of your Presiding Bishop; and

4) communicate with your Presiding Elder/Presiding Bishop about your plans to resume services and immediately report any problems or challenges encountered.

The most important things to remember are that this virus is highly contagious, spreads easily in group gatherings, and that there is no proven treatment, no cure, no vaccine.

As the church, we must be guided by the Biblical mandate to love our neighbors and do everything we can to keep from spreading this virus throughout our communities.

Note: Here is a link to a useful manual for churches as they prepare to re-open the building.

On behalf of the CME College of Bishops,

Senior Bishop Lawrence Reddick

Bishop Thomas L. Brown, Sr. Chair

Bishop Teresa Jefferson-Snorton, Secretary

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