As you know, the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) has developed quickly and we want to assure you that The Salvation Army is committed to taking preventative measures to protect the safety of its officers, employees, volunteers, as well as the thousands of people we are privileged to serve each and every day throughout the USA Central Territory. The well-being of all is our top priority.
A Territorial Coronavirus Response Team has been created, under the supervision of the Assistant Chief Secretary, Lt. Colonel Paul Smith. This group meets regularly to review information, share updates and resources, and assist in the dissemination of important information and guidelines directly related to this most recent pandemic.
As the situation evolves, we continue to monitor and promote the directives from the Center for Disease Control in order to keep our communities as safe as possible.
This includes but is not limited to:
– Practicing good hygiene by washing hands often (for at least 20 seconds with soap) and avoiding touching the face with hands
– Proper sneezing/coughing technique (into elbow)
– Encouraging those with possible symptoms or exposure to stay home and reduce the risk of possible transmission.
From a practical managerial perspective, we ask that all Salvation Army officers and employees adhere to the following revised travel restrictions:
ALL international travel is suspended effective immediately until April 25. This travel policy will be monitored and evaluated as the outbreak evolves. Appeals may be made through the applicable Unit Commander or Cabinet Secretary to the Assistant Chief Secretary’s Office. All non-essential business travel should be postponed until April 25, or until further notice.
Large gatherings/events (not church worship)
Large events/gatherings (of more than 150) scheduled up to and including April 25, are to be cancelled or rescheduled. Appeals may be made through the appropriate Unit Commander or Cabinet Secretary to the Assistant Chief Secretary for evaluation and risk assessment by the THQ Coronavirus Response Team. This policy will be monitored and evaluated for changes as the outbreak evolves.
In the interest of avoiding potential future cancellations should the outbreak escalate, no new conferences or events should be planned until the outbreak has subsided.
Social Services institutions
We strongly recommend that all leadership teams work directly with the local health authorities and follow their recommended suggestions relative to proactively managing our response. I encourage you to liaise directly with your human resources department.
Hosting & Greeting
We recommend that you greet one another with a big smile and waves instead of handshakes or hugs.
Doors & Surfaces
We recommend cleaning all door handles and surfaces that are touched on Sundays and throughout the week on a regular basis. Please make certain that staff are trained and equipped to clean/disinfect all surfaces and equipment that are used daily.
We recommend no longer passing the offering plate around during the service but having offering boxes available as you exit the sanctuary. Gloves should be worn when counting the tithes and offerings.
For the immediate future, we invite you to continue to meet and support each other in community. However, we would also remind you to follow the instructions above and recommend that if people are sick or feel sick, please kindly ask them to stay home. Many of the questions we are all receiving should be addressed and considered with the localized recommendations of the Department of Health or the CDC. This certainly could have an effect on the holding of worship services. Presently, few if any of our corps, would have the numbers suggested for the cancelling of events/meetings. However, along with this understanding is the realization that in many of our locations we are worshipping with an aging, and therefore, more vulnerable population within our congregations. These decisions are to be made in consultation with the Unit Command Leadership and Territorial Leadership when deemed necessary.
Those wishing to proceed with the cancellation of other activities due to concerns, are advised to review them with the respective Unit Command Headquarters personnel or with the respective Cabinet Secretary.
We are actively and continually reviewing the list of territorial events to determine their ongoing viability under these unusual circumstances. Taking 30 days as the period for review, we will, at regular intervals, offer updates on the status of upcoming events. Factors impacting these decisions include the size of the event, duration (hours or days), and level of engagement/contact. You will now know that we have cancelled and/or postponed the following activities:
- National Advisory Organizations Conference
- The General’s Rally in Chicago
- The United Holiness Meeting in Detroit
- The Chicago Staff Band’s travel to Omaha
- The visit of the International Staff Songsters
- The Worship Collective
In line with the action steps taken by each territory to best confront this pandemic, National Headquarters has indicated that they will be taking similar steps with regards to travel, and have cancelled all meetings in Alexandria through the end of April, 2020.
We are living in and coping with unusual circumstances that require unusual measures. We are people of faith and trust in a mighty God who watches over us. We need not be afraid but be reassured that the Father is in control, and we trust Him to lead us as we continue to move forward in ways that make sense and that anticipate the most immediate dangers and concerns in practical ways.
The inspired words of Moses to the young nation of Israel persecuted by the Egyptians, as they feared that they had been taken out to the desert to die, come to mind at a time like this; “Don’t be afraid. Stand firm and watch God do His work of salvation for you today,” Exodus 14:13.
Let’s agree to continue to pray for our communities and the world, especially for the more isolated and vulnerable amongst us who might be impacted by the virus and to continue to live out our motto to serve and support the greater community in the name of Jesus.
Please share this communication with all officers, employees, and others within your sphere of influence and responsibility as you deem necessary. Further details are being addressed and will be distributed as soon as they are available.