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Response on March 12
March 12, 2020

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Yesterday the WHO announced that the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19 has become a pandemic at the global level.  Since that announcement multiple governmental agencies, sports leagues, colleges and school districts, among others have swiftly taken drastic measures.  While we trust that every organization is doing what is best for people, this also has a tendency to create panic.

     Here at Calvary Baptist Church McAllen we are committed to care well for all our people, especially our children and our Senior adults, who are more vulnerable.  Our pastoral staff has been discussing our response to this situation for several days now but after the latest number of organizational responses, we have intensified our efforts to get the latest information and take the most appropriate measures.

Most Current Plan

     The most recent information we have received from Hidalgo Countyis that there are no confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in our county as of today.  Their recommendation is that organizations increase their hygiene response.

    At this point we plan to continue all of our regular activities, including church office schedule, programs and services.  We are taking and recommending strict measures to protect every person who comes on our campus (please see the list of diligent measures below).  You are part of the solution.  So please take the time to read the measures below and act on them.  As someone else has said, our approach and our admonition is to "Be Careful not Fearful."

     Nevertheless, we will continue to monitor the situation and will have contingency plans in place should they be deemed necessary.  (The situation is changing daily and lately by the hour).  Although at this point we are not cancelling any gatherings, if we do, we will communicate that via this blog, our constant contact data base, ourwebsite and social media (Facebook and Instagram).

Spiritual Response

     As children of God we are reminded that our strength and assurance comes from the Lord.  Our lives, our church and our eternity are in his hands.  We have the responsibility to be good stewards of what he has given us and we should exercise utmost wisdom in all of our decisions.  But we should not become victims of fear and panic.

     The Scripture reminds us as the Psalmist makes a commitment of faith,

Psalm 46:1-2 (NIV)
God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea
     The writer of this Psalm thinks about the worst natural disasters that could come and the fierceness of war.  Yet his confidence is in the Lord.  He twice declares, "The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress" (7, 11).  That is where our assurance lies.  We have a God who reigns, who loves us and who holds us in his hands forever!

    We will be diligent to take any measure necessary to ensure the safety and well being of each person in our congregation.  But we encourage each other to not give in to fear and panic.  Instead, let us focus our energy on prayer.  Texas Baptists have developed a simple prayer acronym (A CROWN) to help us pray through this.  I encourage you to read it and use it as you pray for this situation.

Current Measures at Calvary

     We have implemented enhanced sanitation efforts in all buildings, classrooms, and common areas.
  1. Nursery, Preschool and Children:
    1. We are sanitizing all toys, cribs and areas children touch (We normally do this but we are enhancing efforts);
    2. We will conduct an online training for our staff and volunteers in regard to sanitation over the next week bringing everyone up to date;
    3. We will put away our sensory bins (rice, sand, play dough stations) until further notice.
    4. We will continue to ask staff and volunteers who are sick or have any cold-like symptoms to not come until they are well.
    5. We will continue to not allow parents to drop off children with a fever or cold-like symptoms.
  2. Students:
    1. All enhanced measures are being implemented in the classrooms and common areas of student ministry;
    2. The Student Center Café will remain open on Sundays and Wednesdays but enhanced measures for hygiene and sanitation will be implemented as well as volunteer and staff training;
    3. Staff and volunteers who are sick or have any cold-like symptoms are asked not to come until well;
    4. Students who are sick, have a fever, or cold-like symptoms are asked to stay home until well;
    5. Our students who are serving at Beach Reach this year have received information and instructions on how to take necessary precautions.  Beach Reach is a ministry of Texas Baptists Student Ministries.
  3. Adults:
    1. According to the CDC recommendations for faith-communities, older adults and people who have severe underlying chronic medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness.  Such People who are at higher risk are encouraged to avoid crowds as much as possible.  If you fit that criteria we encourage you to stay home.  We are making plans to live stream our Sunday services and will share that information soon for those who are not able to attend in person.
    2. We are implementing enhanced sanitation efforts for our classrooms, common areas, and worship center.
    3. We encourage any adult who has cold-like symptoms, fever or is otherwise sick to stay home.  See information above regarding live streaming of worship services.
    4. Our Wednesday night supper will resume after spring break and we are making sure that the highest hygiene and sanitation standards are maintained as food is prepared and served.  
    5. Our community ministry programs such as Bread of Life, VITA tax-preparation, and ESL will be monitored and evaluated to ensure everyone is safe.
  4. Worship Services:
    1. Greeting: we encourage individuals to avoid handshakes, hugs and kisses.  Try fist bumps or a holy wave!
    2. Giving:  While we will still pass the offering plates during our worship services, we encourage everyone to move to our e-giving platforms, which include web giving, a mobile app andgiving by text.  This minimizes the amount of hands that handle money and envelopes.
    3. Communion: We will continue to exercise high standards of hygiene in preparing the elements of the Lord's Supper.  Furthermore, we will double-cup the communion elements placing the piece of bread in the bottom cup and the juice in the top cup to avoid cross contamination.  Our deacons and ushers will use gloves when handling the trays.
  5. Summer Travel, VBS and Summer Camps.  At this point there are no major trips scheduled for the spring.  We are currently moving ahead with planning for VBS, Summer Camps and Valley Project.  However, we will monitor the situation, implement and communicate contingency plans should they be deemed necessary.
General Information

Top Ten things we encourage everyone to do:
  1. Wash your hands with soap and water often and encourage others to do the same;
  2. Cover your cough with something other than your hand;
  3. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands;
  4. If you are sick stay home;
  5. If your children are sick keep them home;
  6. If you experience fever, cough and shortness of breath see a doctor;
  7. If anyone in our congregation or area is diagnosed with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) please report it to our church office or one of our staff immediately;
  8. Pray, pray and pray (see suggested prayer guide);
  9. Seek opportunities to minister to people in need and to offer hope to those who are experiencing fear;
  10. Take advantage of opportunities to share the gospel with those who do not know the Lord.