Coronavirus Updates and Cancellations

Sun shines through stain glass into the sanctuary.

We continue to closely monitor the COVID-19 situation. There are still no reports of the virus within the Brown Memorial community. Staff has spent much of the week in thoughtful conversation with each other, Session, and health leaders. A staff member also attended a community meeting led by the President of the University of MD Medical system and other public health officials.  At this meeting, it was strongly advised that churches of all sizes not hold face-to-face worship.

 

While at first glance this might feel premature, after all we do not yet have a confirmed case in our community or Baltimore City, there are compelling reasons to heed this recommendation.

 

  1. The request is not one made from a place of panic but rather from a place of precaution. Most individuals who contract COVID-19 will be able to manage the virus at home like any other cold or flu. About 20%, however, will not. Electing to worship creatively, i.e. not in person, helps to reduce and slow the spread of the virus. Slowing the spread helps hospitals and other first responders prepare so that facilities are not overwhelmed and unable to treat the 20% of severe cases that require hospital intervention.
  2. There is historical data that indicates early and decisive actions can lead to better outcomes. In comparing the response of two major cities during the 1918 Spanish flu, which was responsible for the deaths of half a million people in the US, it has been found that the death rate of the city which stopped gathering early, was cut significantly.

 

After weighing all of these factors, Session decided this morning to be on the leading edge of this request from health officials and has decided to cancel face-to-face worship in lieu of interactive online worship. A decision that was confirmed by Governor Hogan’s afternoon press conference. Staff has begun to work out the kinks of using the Zoom platform which will allow multiple participants from all over the area. If you have ever wanted to come to worship in your pajamas now is your opportunity. An invitation to participate in this out of the box worship will be made available along with other helpful information. Because we know this will be new to many in our community we are having a practice session at 10am on Saturday, March 14 to allow for any individual troubleshooting that might be needed.

 

In addition to the decision regarding worship, Session also made the decision to cancel all non-essential gatherings in our facilities for the foreseeable future. Staff will continue to work either onsite using social distancing or electronically from home. The office will, however, be closed to the public.

 

Again, all of these decisions are made from a place of caution not panic and the intent of this comunication is to be clear about the rationale behind these decisions. While we feel these measures are the prudent measures to take we also recognize that in times of uncertainty it is all the more important to stay connected to one another. Watch for future communications about ways we can continue to be in community in this new phase of the Coronavirus Pandemic. Until then, we continue to encourage members and friends to reach out to one another paying particular attention to those who might be most vulnerable to feelings of isolation and anxiety.

 

With God’s help, together we can both do our part for this pandemic and come together in new and different ways.

 

Should you have further questions or concerns please contact any member of staff.

– Brown Memorial Staff