As we move further into the effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, our national, state, and episcopal leaders have both urged (and sometimes required) us to comply with a lot of steps that most of us never envisioned in our lifetimes. As part of that, earlier this month Bishop Holston strongly urged that all of our churches suspend all in-person gatherings, including worship services, until the end of March.
Governor McMaster has now issued an Executive Order directed at gatherings of more than three people, which includes this provision:
“C. I hereby authorize, order, and direct any and all law enforcement officers of the State, or any political subdivision thereof, in accordance with section 16-7-10 of the South Carolina Code of Laws and other applicable law, to prohibit or disperse any congregation or gathering of people, unless authorized or in their homes, in groups of three (3) or more people, if any such law enforcement official determines, in their discretion, that any such congregation or gathering of people poses, or could pose, a threat to public health.”
If you would like to read the entire order, you can access it here: https://www.governor.sc.gov/sites/default/files/Documents/Executive-Orders/2020-03-23%20eFILED%20Executive%20Order%20No.%202020-13%20-%20Authorizing%20Law%20Enforcement%20to%20Preserve%20Public%20Health.pdf
I ask that you continue to help your people understand that we are all part of the effort to control this virus as quickly as we can by complying with – and being leaders in – the efforts to keep a safe distance from others, practice good hygiene, and avoid being out unnecessarily. My expectation is that we will set an example for the community by complying in every possible way. Please remember that people can carry and transmit the virus even when they look and feel perfectly well.
You are in my prayers daily, and I am deeply grateful for all that you are doing to share the hope of Jesus Christ with a world in need.
Rev. Timothy J. Rogers
Marion District Superintendent
South Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church