I am not certain how long COVID-19 will remain virulent among us, but I am certain that as Christians, the second Great Commandment should undergird the responses we make: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Bishop Larry Benfield

The Latest from Bishop Benfield

Feb. 24, 2021

As Cases Decline, Indoor Worship Is Possible for Some Churches

The recent decline in Covid-19 infections in Arkansas means that it is possible for several of our congregations to consider indoor worship if infection rates stay low. No, we are not going to be sitting in crowded rooms and singing next Sunday. Social distancing and masking will still be necessary, and please remember that it is the decision of your congregation’s leadership to determine if it is safe enough to gather indoors.

As indoor gatherings commence again, I plan to continue to listen carefully to the guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control. Even if we are vaccinated, we will stay masked for the time being to assist in keeping others safe as well. We won’t sing until we hear that it is safe to do so. We will wait until medical professionals tell us that it is time to return to sharing consecrated Wine at Communion or having coffee hours. And we will see what advice the health professionals give us regarding nursery care.

We have been faithful stewards these past eleven months as we have put the wellbeing of others ahead of our own personal desire to gather in church, and as we have assisted the people who have suffered greatly in this pandemic. I thank you. We will continue to be cautious in the coming months, confident that our slow and steady progress will pay benefits in the long run as the church regathers and finds new ways to carry out our mission to restore relationships among all people.

Faithfully yours,

Larry Benfield
Bishop of Arkansas


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Bishop Benfield



Active Covid Cases by County

The use of active cases per 10,000 individuals as a standard is based on the likelihood of encountering a currently contagious person in the county in which the congregation is located.

Congregations in counties with 14 or fewer active cases per 10,000 individuals might want to consider indoor, in-person gatherings if the congregational leadership feels confident that doing so is acceptable from a risk standpoint. Congregations in counties with more than 14 active cases per 10,000 individuals might want to consider holding gatherings online or outdoors with limited attendance. No matter whether you meet indoors or outdoors, stay masked, stay at least six feet from other people, and never allow a gathering to turn into a crowd. Note that if the rate is above 35, your county is extremely risky for virus transmission and online-only gatherings are recommended.

The data below represent the present active cases per county as of February 23. For the most up-to-date numbers and overall trends, please click on your county below.
COUNTY
(click for graph)
CHURCH LOCATION ACTIVE CASES PER 10,000*
Arkansas Stuttgart 16.0
Ashley Crossett 9.3
Baxter Mtn. Home 8.0
Benton Numerous 15.4
Boone Harrison 11.3
Carroll Eureka Springs 9.2
Chicot Lake Village 8.7
Cleburne Heber Springs 8.3
Columbia Magnolia 7.2
Craighead Jonesboro 14.9
Crawford Van Buren 15.5
Crittenden W. Memphis 14.9
Desha McGehee 15.1
Drew Monticello 9.0
Faulkner Conway 16.0
Garland Hot Springs, HSV 27.8
Greene Paragould 12.0
Hempstead Hope 9.4
Independence Batesville 7.7
Izard Horseshoe Bend 5.5
Jackson Newport 5.4
Jefferson Pine Bluff 10.9
Lee Marianna 9.6
Little River Foreman 6.5
Mississippi Blytheville, Osceola 12.9
Ouachita Camden 16.2
Phillips Helena 8.3
Polk Mena 16.5
Pope Russellville 17.6
Prairie Tollville 13.8
Pulaski Numerous 17.8
Saline Benton 14.0
Sebastian Ft. Smith 15.8
St. Francis Forrest City 9.3
Union El Dorado 12.7
Washington Fayetteville, Springdale 12.3
White Searcy 11.4

* As a seven-day rolling average.

View Trend Graphs By County

Online Worship Services

Churches across the Diocese of Arkansas are livestreaming services via Facebook, YouTube, and Zoom. Click on the toggle button below for a complete list.