More on Addressing the COVID-19 Threat at the Feast
As we come to another joyous Festival time of year for the Church, my prayer priority is for the health and safety of our brethren traveling to and congregating at the Feast of Tabernacles. Most of the Feast planning is finalized and registration continues to climb, and we are now at about 8,800!
The predominant thought for Feast coordinators now is the potential impact of COVID-19. It is important that we thoroughly understand in advance the nature of that disease and how it spreads, and willingly comply with any mandates at our sites regarding the wearing of masks, social distancing and other preventative measures at Church services and scheduled activities. This information should be available at your Feast webpage and will also be included in announcements and, as time allows, any printed bulletins.
While the Church is giving attendees certain freedom to meet in masked or unmasked areas during our meetings (unless otherwise required in accordance with local rules) we must depend on ourselves to mutually share the responsibility to protect ourselves and those we are with from contagious infections.
The reality is that members have been infected at Church services and this new Delta variant of COVID-19 has been found to be two to three times more contagious than the original strain. Some have attended local Church services or activities when not feeling well, and later found out they had COVID-19—but by then had infected several others.
If someone is not feeling well, we ask that he or she stay home (or if at a Feast site, self-quarantine until you have undergone proper testing to rule out the possibility of infection and return to a congregate setting only after you have been advised to do so by a medical professional).
During the Feast, if someone is not feeling well, it will be easy to go to the Church website and find the webcast information for daily live services from Panama City Beach or Bend/Redmond.
There are other steps to be considered to help lower the risk of the spread of COVID-19. There are now available COVID-19 test kits that can be self-administered that attendees should have available to test themselves if they or a loved one feel ill or have been exposed to COVID-19. It might be wise to do so just to be on the safe side after arrival at a Feast site, even if one is not feeling ill, since COVID-19 infection may not show symptoms for a few days after exposure. These test kits, such as BinaxNow (cvs.com/shop/abbott-binaxnow-covid-19-antigen-self-test-2-tests-for-serial-testing-prodid-550147) have received emergency use authorization from the FDA, are easy to use, and give a result in 15 minutes.
Another method, particularly for the unmasked, is to spend as much time outside and away from lengthy indoor fellowship as possible. The COVID-19 virus spreads most readily in indoor spaces where people are in close proximity to one another for more than a few minutes. Indoor restaurants, where people are without masks and eating close to one another, are particularly problematic for the spread of infection and should be avoided as much as possible, especially in areas with a high COVID-19 case count. Hence, eating outside while dining is a safer way to avoid getting or spreading this disease.
Because of the very high rate of contagion from the Delta variant, the Church is obliged to have a very low threshold to switch to a virtual platform in the case of a COVID-19 infection among attendees.
So let’s all of us do our part to nip in the bud any sign of the COVID-19 infection before it can spread and, God willing, allow everyone to enjoy a COVID-free Feast experience!
Virtual Feast of Trumpets Service in Asia
On Monday night, Sept. 6 (here in the US), we held a virtual national Feast of Trumpets service hosted by the Filipino congregations, which was at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday in the Philippines. It was a privilege for Bev and me to be part of a virtual Feast of Trumpets service that connected brethren in the three regions in the Philippines (Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao) as well as Sabah and Johor Bahru in Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong. Philippines senior pastor David Dobson connected from Alaska.
A virtual choir sang beautifully, and I then gave a sermon about “What is the Day of the Lord.” Afterward, we stayed around for greetings and fellowship. I have many good memories of the Philippines from my visits there, as well as from being acquainted with some of their elders who have come to General Conference of Elders meetings in Cincinnati. Because of meeting restrictions and prohibitions, the Feast of Tabernacles will be completely virtual this year in the Philippines.
Several areas of the world have recently held virtual services and conferences with speakers from the United States. When we were conducting our service, brethren in Myanmar held their own virtual service at various locations supported by Davidson Lay Beh in the United Kingdom. It is amazing how we have been able to be connected via miraculous technology in spite of closed borders and not being able to meet in person!
Free Course for the Gospel
We are starting a new section in the eNews called, “Pray for the Gospel to Have Free Course,” based on 2 Thessalonians 3:1 2 Thessalonians 3:1Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you:
American King James Version×(KJV).
The idea is that a few times a month we will give a specific item for our ministry and brethren to pray about regarding preaching the gospel. We plan to include our international areas as much as possible.
This will be the last eNews until Oct. 7, after the Feast of Tabernacles. Let’s continue to care for and pray for one another as the Church of genuine brotherly love.