Columbia Union Adventist Entities Respond to Coronavirus
Story by Visitor Staff
As national and local government and health agencies continue to monitor the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), church leaders in the Columbia Union Conference are evaluating how to best support members, employees and students through this crisis.
“We are facing an unprecedented time, and while we are not immune to the impact of the coronavirus, we know that we serve an almighty God who sees, who cares and who is an ever-present help in times of trouble,” says Dave Weigley, Columbia Union president. “As we journey this crisis together, know that we have been in contact with the presidents of our conferences and institutions, we’re all praying for you and we ask you to join us in praying for your families, friends, communities, health care givers and other frontline workers.
“As a church, we are committed to cooperate with government officials to reduce the impact of this deadly virus. It has already affected our churches, schools and hospitals, and things may worsen before they get better.”
Already, people in seven of the eight states within the Columbia Union Conference have tested positive for the contagious strain of the disease known as coronavirus or COVID-19, causing many to declare states of emergency, close schools and issue guidelines to promote social distancing.
Information changes hour by hour, as each state decides how best to stop the spread and mitigate the impact. Their decisions impact Adventist organizations, schools and churches within the union. Here’s a list of states within the Columbia Union territory, their guidelines and links for up-to-date information on their websites:
Numerous Church Events Postponed
Several conferencewide events in Ohio scheduled for this weekend have been canceled, including a music festival and robotics event. They’ve also postponed pastor meetings scheduled for Monday and Tuesday. Upcoming Allegheny East Conference training events will be convened online. The Columbia Union Conference Pathfinder Bible Experience, scheduled for March 21, has also been postponed.
Most of the conferences within the Union have also urged their local churches to suspend communion, potlucks and other gatherings that draw crowds. Mission trips by several of the academies and the Chesapeake Conference have also been canceled. A team of pastors was packed and ready to travel to Cuba until grounded by travel advisories. Conferences continue to monitor the situation and will update constituents about upcoming meetings on their individual websites. (See lists and links below.)
Schools Explore Online Instruction
Elementary school leaders are also advising precautionary measures educators and parents can take to lower their risks of spreading the virus. They’re also closely monitoring government guidelines, and some are planning to conduct online teaching during mandatory school closures.
“Moving forward, each superintendent of each conference is responsible for making the call as to what they'll do in terms of school,” says Donovan Ross, vice president of Education for the Columbia Union. “One of the challenges is that, in education, it’s mandated that school has to be in session for a specified number of days each year. Our schools are exploring different options, platforms and delivery of instruction to meet this requirement.”
Kettering College (Ohio) will conduct all classes online, until further notice. Washington Adventist University in Takoma Park, Md., canceled classes for March 16–17 so faculty can prepare to host online instruction through their student-learning platform.
When You Can’t Go to Church
With the virus spreading rapidly throughout the union territory, Columbia Union President Dave Weigley asked members who don’t feel well or are vulnerable to prioritize their health and well-being and to stay connected to their local churches through online access.
“In the days and weeks to come, while we may not be able to gather in person, consider staying connected by joining an online worship service, giving online and keeping up with the news and information through our Visitor website,” he says.
To worship online via livestreamed services, visit your local conference website, listed below.
Members can continue to tithe, support local church ministry and give to Adventist mission online using the Adventist Giving App. To learn more, watch a video or visit the website: adventistgiving.org.
How Columbia Union Entities are Responding
Each conference, school and health care network in the Columbia Union is posting and sharing information to keep members and students informed. Please visit their pages as follows:
- Adventist HealthCare
- Allegheny East Conference
- Allegheny West Conference
- Chesapeake Conference
- Kettering Adventist HealthCare
- Kettering College
- New Jersey Conference
- Mountain View Conference
- Ohio Conference
- Pennsylvania Conference
- Potomac Conference
- Washington Adventist University
Out of an abundance of caution, the Columbia Union Conference office will close from March 16–19. To reach the Visitor staff with news and information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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