August 2, 2021
In recent days the COVID transmission rates have drastically increased in some areas of the Alabama-West Florida Conference. We all prayed we would not be back in this scenario yet we are again faced with challenging days ahead of us. I have received inquiries from some of you asking for recommendations for your local church. I appreciate the concern we all have for the health and well-being of our congregations and communities. The necessary decisions and next best steps will be adopted at the local church level. Each of your communities are very different, therefore decisions about in-person worship and activities should be made in consultation with your church COVID task force, local authorities, and health experts. If you have not consulted with these leaders, now is the time to have those discussions.
I strongly encourage those who can be vaccinated to do so. The rise in numbers is largely due to such a large unvaccinated population in certain areas. In order to love thy neighbor, those who can be vaccinated should strongly consider taking this step to protect the immune compromised and our children who do not yet have access to the vaccine.
Many churches relaxed their COVID guidelines and protocols over the summer when positive case numbers were at an all-time low. If your community is seeing a rise in cases, you should consider best practices and guidelines previously released in 2020. Find the most current CDC guidance at this link.
The coming days and weeks will require each of you to evaluate your community’s current status related to COVID. It will be a daily continual shift of reading, educating yourself, asking questions, consulting with health professionals, and making tough, yet critical decisions for your church. My prayers are with each of you as you navigate this once again.
As a conference we will continue to lead in the same way and will evaluate daily how to best manage and schedule events and gatherings.
May we lead with care, compassion, and knowledge.
Bishop David W. Graves
Alabama-West Florida Conference