Bishop L. Jonathan Holston, resident bishop of the South Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church, released this statement regarding the coronavirus outbreak:

Friends, as we prepare each week to gather for worship, Sunday school, Bible study and other church activities, I encourage you to stay informed about ways to maximize the opportunity to live in community with your brothers and sisters in Christ while simultaneously minimizing health risks.

You probably have read or heard much in recent weeks about a new strain of coronavirus, COVID-19 (shorthand for Coronavirus Disease 2019), that has appeared in several countries, including the United States.

With so many voices taking part in the discussion around COVID-19, it is important to base our actions and behaviors on what health experts are saying.

One of our very own South Carolina United Methodists is Dr. Linda Bell, the state epidemiologist with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. Dr. Bell affirms that one of the most important ways local churches can be a positive influence in our communities is by making sure any information we share comes from credible sources.

Church members can help minimize the spread of germs by taking time to recover fully at home if they are experiencing flu-like symptoms and by practicing good hygiene. This includes frequent hand-washing, using alcohol-based hand sanitizer, and keeping your hands away from your face, eyes and nose.

The United Methodist Church also has shared some advice for local churches that can help limit the risk of exposure to a wide array of viruses. These are simple steps churches can take at little or no cost, such as maintaining “social distancing,” which means to allow at least three feet of physical space between yourself and someone who is coughing or sneezing.

Please join me in prayer for those whose lives have been affected by illness, the medical professionals who are treating and caring for them, and those who are working diligently to ensure a healthier future for all of us.

Grace and peace,

L. Jonathan Holston
Resident Bishop

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