By Shelly Mayer
Director, ForColumbia 2020
To all our volunteers, partnering churches, agencies and vendors:
First of all, thank you for your willingness to partner with 51 Christian churches in Columbia to love and serve our city on April 25th. With the recent worldwide health issues brought on by COVID-19, I am answering questions I have been receiving as to the ForColumbia plan moving forward from this point.
While we are still six weeks out from our planned serving date, we want to communicate that we take this pandemic very seriously and will take the necessary measures to protect both our sites and our volunteers. We want to speak in one voice about our plans regarding the ForColumbia 2020 anticipated day of service, and the potential impact of the national – and indeed, global – emergency in which we find ourselves.
This is what we are doing now:
- First and foremost, the ForColumbia Executive Team is praying. For people all over the world, and for our neighbors in Columbia and Boone County in particular, as we face the international pandemic that is COVID-19.
- We are trusting in our sovereign God, knowing that while we do not know what is ahead, He does. We may be surprised by COVID-19. He is not.
- Because our event is still six weeks out, we are prayerfully continuing to plan for the day of the event, on Saturday, April 25, while watching national, state, and local cancellations that may lead us to fall in line with those decisions.
- We are evaluating each serving site to determine health risks and vulnerabilities, and we are communicating with these sites to get their feedback. We will be very sensitive to each site’s needs and concerns; if we believe volunteer opportunities need to be cancelled to protect human life, we will be quick to do so. If, six weeks from now, there is still any risk of carrying infection into sites with elderly or higher-risk individuals, we will cancel these serving opportunities.
- Example: We had been planning to return to nursing homes this year as serving sites, but at least one of our identified sites has already cancelled all volunteer activities through the end of April.
As of today, we do not envision us cancelling ForColumbia 2020 altogether unless COVID-19 reaches the city of Columbia officially and/or our local government is calling for cancellations of events like ours. However, we are considering alternative ways we could serve our city in this time of need.
These are our initial thoughts, but as we are all keenly aware, this is an ever-changing situation. We will continue to communicate with you about our plans as this situation evolves. In the meantime, we can all love and serve our city, right now:
- Pray for those who are affected by this virus – those who have fallen ill, the medical professionals treating them and searching for a vaccine, and our government leaders who are making tough decisions to try to curb the spread of the virus.
- We can love and serve others by following the protocols our leaders and health professionals are providing, and do our best to stop the spread of this virus.
- Pray for those with mental health concerns as well as those who feel extra lonely during this time –please reach out to anyone you think might be feeling isolated over the next few weeks.
- Check on your neighbors. If you know someone who may not have internet access, reach out to them and make sure they are okay. We can safely stay in touch with each other through phone calls, emails and social media.
- As the virus spreads, many doctors and nurses will be working long hours. Consider ways you can bless these medical professionals with acts of kindness and notes of appreciation.
I look forwarding to loving and serving our neighbors with you, side by side – whatever that looks like. Grace and peace to you and yours!
Psalm 16:1-2 (ESV)
A Miktam of David.
Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
I have no good apart from you.”
Philippians 4:4-7 (ESV)
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.