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.”
The Latest from Bishop Benfield
04 May 2020
Our Approach to Regathering
We face challenges as a church in this age of pandemic, but we are confident that the church is up to the challenge. Over the next few months we in Arkansas will find ways to bring our community back together in person, always mindful that we will look out for the health of everyone around us.
In anticipation of opening our doors once again, we will spend the next month preparing. During the month of May, we will continue to worship online rather than in person.
Please remember that how and when to reopen will depend in large part on public health guidelines in effect at the time and the success, or lack of it, in overcoming the pandemic. Estimates of infection, illness, and death change from week to week, making it impossible to give precise dates in early May 2020 on when churches can reopen. But we will do so as soon as we feel confident that reopening is the right thing to do for our spiritual and physical health.
Attached to this email is a four-page pamphlet outlining what we need to do in May, complete with a list of questions each congregation needs to be asking now, and what we hope to be able to do in June.
Bishop of Arkansas
- 5/4 Update from Bishop Benfield (“Our Approach to Regathering”)
- 4/22 Update from Bishop Benfield (“Looking Forward”)
- 4/1 Update from Bishop Benfield (“Holy Week and Easter in the Time of COVID-19”)
- 3/25 Update from Bishop Benfield (“Thanks you for Being the Church”)
- 3/17 Update from Bishop Benfield (“How to Love Your Neighbor During a Pandemic”)
- 3/13 Update from Bishop Benfield (“All Congregations Urged Not to Meet”)
- 3/12 Update from Bishop Benfield (“Churches in Three Counties Encouraged to Close”)
- 3/11 Update from Bishop Benfield (“What to Expect in Church on Sunday”)
- 3/4 Letter from Bishop Benfield (“Living Faithfully in a World of Pandemics”)
- 3/2 Notice (“Concerned About Coronavirus and Your Congregation?”)
Online Worship Services
Average Active COVID-19 Cases by County
The data below represent a five-day rolling average, updated on May 26 and applicable to worship on or after June 1, 2020.
Every day we track current active Covid-19 cases in each county compared with its population, and then look at the rolling average of those active cases as a guide. Active cases per capita should be very low in counties where we proceed with in-person worship and should be almost as low in counties where outdoor worship in good weather is possible. All other congregations should continue with online worship.
For special liturgies such as funerals and weddings, work with the bishop on planning how to proceed.
|County||Church location||Average present active cases||Average active cases per capita||Possible type of worship|
|Garland||Hot Springs, HSV||6||0.006%||Outdoor|
|St. Francis||Forrest City||327||1.200%||Online|
CDC and State Resouces
- CDC unpublished guide to assist leaders of faith communities. [PDF]
- Arkansas Department of Health’s Covid-19 Guidance for Faith-Based Organizations [web page].