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
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.
Bishop of Arkansas
- 11/18 Update from Bishop Benfield (“An Update on Worship During the Pandemic”)
- 9/23 Update from Bishop Benfield (“Latest Recommendations for In-Person Meetings”)
- 8/12 Update from Bishop Benfield (“New Recommendation on When to Consider In-Person Worship”)
- 7/29 Update from Bishop Benfield (“Responding Creatively”)
- 6/17 Update from Bishop Benfield (“Reopening Our Churches”)
- 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?”)
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.
(click for graph)
|CHURCH LOCATION||ACTIVE CASES PER 10,000*|
|Garland||Hot Springs, HSV||27.8|
|St. Francis||Forrest City||9.3|
* As a seven-day rolling average.