Coronavirus


MAY 29, 2020, COVID-19 UPDATE

Due to declining COVID-19 infection rates in the Cedar Valley and consistent with protocols outlined in our “Coming Back Together as a Congregation” document, we will return to partial office hours from 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 Noon, Monday through Thursday, beginning June 1.  Blessed Beginnings continues to operate with their normal schedule, and the Naz Food and Essentials Pantry clients will continue to be served through scheduled appointments Monday through Thursday in the afternoons.  Donations for the food pantry can be dropped off at Door #1 from 9:00 a.m. – 12:00.m., Monday through Thursday. For all Nazareth Covid-19 updates, please go to www.naz.org/coronavirus.  On that page, you will find all Naz Covid-19 communications and a link to the document “Coming Back Together as a Congregation”, which outlines the three-phased approach to opening our building and holding face-to-face worship services.  Please watch for a congregational survey the week of June 1 seeking your input related to our eventual return to live services. 

WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN LIVE WORSHIP RETURNS TO NAZARETH

Dear Friends,

Grace to you and peace!

After the last three months without live worship opportunities, we recognize that many are eager to return to in-person worship as soon as we can safely do so.  One thing we have certainly learned through these unprecedented times in response to the COVID-19 pandemic is that as some businesses and public venues slowly re-open, any “New Normal” is likely to look and feel very different from the “Old Normal” prior to March 15.

The safety, health, and well-being of our members, guests, and most vulnerable neighbors remains paramount as we share the love of Christ with all. With that in mind, we want to assure you that our Nazareth leadership team and staff have investigated and will implement the best practices being recommended through a combination of our federal, state, and local health departments, synodical recommendations, and large church safety protocols.  While some practices may vary over time, here are a few guidelines that you can almost certainly expect to be in place when we eventually do return to in-person worship at Nazareth:

  • Good hygiene practices like washing hands and wearing masks will be strongly recommended and expected. Our cleaning and sanitizing procedures have been significantly increased. Also, people who feel sick or who are at high risk should stay at home and refrain from large public gatherings like in-person worship.
  • Physical distancing will be important for the foreseeable future and will significantly limit available seating in our Worship Center. Pews will be marked accordingly to indicate where individuals and family groups may sit in order to maintain physical distance.
  • Our nursery and wiggle room will not be open for some time and children will not come forward for children’s sermons.
  • All pew Bibles, hymnals, and other printed materials will be removed from the pews to limit surface contamination possibilities.
  • Congregational singing will be discouraged for the foreseeable future as it has been shown to contribute to so-called “super spreading events.”
  • Offering plates will not be passed, and the traditional “Sharing of the Peace” and other physical greetings will no longer be shared.
  • Services will likely be abbreviated to reduce the opportunity for people to be exposed to potential viral threats.
  • Normal refreshments will not be offered and “fellowship” following services will be discouraged for now.

As you can quickly see, in-person gatherings at Nazareth are apt to look and feel dramatically different for the foreseeable future. However, be assured that we will aim to re-introduce any and all of the “normal” parts of our congregational life as soon as it’s reasonable and safe to do so.


Despite the lack of live worship over the past three months, the Church is not and never has been “closed.”  We continue to offer numerous ways to engage and grow and serve as the body of Christ through a variety of online options and in-person opportunities detailed on our website at and through our weekly digital newsletter – Naz News.

We value your input as we are carefully considering the best way to return to in-person services at Nazareth per our phased guidelines outlined in our document “Coming Back Together as a Congregation“.

Please watch for and complete the brief congregational survey that will be shared and available the week of June 1.  Your responses will help us to make re-opening decisions that demonstrate love for our neighbors and the most vulnerable among us, as well as meet your needs and consider your concerns. We greatly appreciate your participation and we look forward to the day when we can worship under one roof!

May God continue to bless our efforts to invite all people to know Christ, grow in Christ, and make Christ known.

Be well! Be courageous!  Be loving! Be the Church!

In Christ,

Pastor Brian  


MAY 15, 2020, COVID-19 UPDATE

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The COVID-19 pandemic reluctantly moved us into physical distancing. Then, as the number of cases and fatalities spiked, we ceased meeting together for worship and other activities, in order to protect the most vulnerable: the elderly and those with underlying health conditions. This has been a difficult act of love. Our goal was to keep cases to a minimum, so that hospitals would not be overwhelmed beyond their capacity.

In response to this health crisis, we have moved to online and public access broadcasts of our worship services and the use of online meeting platforms for all other “gatherings” of our members. Once cases begin to fall, we will continue to offer these new online and broadcast options for all our members even as we begin to meet again, with great care.

Please review this document (or download it below) – Coming Back Together as a Congregation Guidelines – and view it as a roadmap to that hopeful eventuality.

There are no hard and fast dates we can give you by which we can safely re-open.  Instead, it is vital that you stay tuned in to our weekly congregational updates and communication.  As always, it is our love of neighbor that guides us. We intend to err on the side of caution. Thank you for your faithful  prayer and financial support of this ministry and mission that we all share through Nazareth and please do not hesitate to contact us directly with your questions or concerns.

Be well! Be courageous! Be loving!  Be The Church!

In the Strong Love of Christ,

Pastor Brian




APRIL 28, 2020, COVID-19 UPDATE

In her daily COVID-19 briefing on April 27, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds lifted restrictions on religious gatherings as long as churches implement social distancing guidelines and increase sanitary cleaning. The spirit of the her proclamation acknowledged the Church’s autonomy and religious freedom, but it was not an endorsement of mass gatherings. This is very important to understand, as churches make decisions on reopening. Though churches are exempt, large gatherings are not being recommended. Mass gatherings continue to be prohibited in all 99 counties, and social gatherings continue to be limited to 10 people.

What does this announcement mean for us as a family of faith? Of course, we are so excited to be able to gather again in the future! However, because of the significant number of cases and the widespread transmission of Covid-19 in Black Hawk County (see http://www.blackhawkcovid19.com), the Black Hawk County Health Department recommends all residents here continue to stay at home whenever possible, participate in no social gatherings, and follow all self-isolation guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control in those locations with active outbreaks.

Your safety, the health of our staff team, and the well-being of our community as a whole is so important to us! So, for now, we will continue with our current plan:

~~Nazareth worship services will be held online. We invite you to gather with us for “Naz At Home” on Sunday mornings at 9:00 a.m. (via Facebook or by using the “Worship Online” link at http://www.naz.org) or on CFU cable television (channels 18/95.5) on Saturday evenings at 5:00 p.m. or Sunday mornings at 8:00 a.m. We love to come together as a community in worship, and now is a GREAT time to invite your friends and family to join you!

~~Nazareth offices are closed at least through May 15 (and this may extend if conditions continue to warrant such). Naz Food and Essentials Pantry clients will continue to be served, and donations can be dropped off at Door #1 from 12:00-3:00 p.m., Monday through Thursday.

~~Blessed Beginnings will remain open unless additional mandates are made by government officials.

~~The question remains: When will we open our offices and host on-site services again? We are not yet sure. We continue to ponder and pray over this question. And, as new plans emerge, we will keep you updated. Until then, these words from Philippians 1:3-6 ring truer than ever: “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

It continues to be a daily blessing to be a part of the Nazareth family of faith alongside each of you!

Be well! Be loving! Be courageous! Be the Church!

In the Strong Love of Christ….Pastor Brian King

APRIL 16, 2020, COVID-19 UPDATE

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds has issued stricter mitigation steps for Region 6 of Iowa, which includes Black Hawk County –  “Effective as of 11:59 p.m. tonight (April 15), all gatherings will cease through April 30, and you may gather only with members of your immediate household.”  In response to this announcement, Nazareth has the following updates:

Nazareth doors will now be locked all day. The Nazareth building and all Nazareth offices are closed until further notice.  

Nazareth Food and Essentials Pantry appointments will continue to take place Monday through Thursday from 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., with Food Pantry clients picking up their boxed items from carts outside Door #1.    Donations for the Food and Essentials Pantry may be delivered to Door #1 Monday through Thursday from 12:00 to 3:00 p.m. Please note that Door #1 will be locked; however, a Nazareth staff person will be present at this time to assist.

Blessed Beginnings will remain open for families needing care – unless Governor Reynolds issues a mandate to close all daycare facilities.  We feel this is an essential need for families, and we will provide this service for families as long as we can.  

WORSHIP: Online worship services will continue.  Click the “Worship Online” link at www.naz.org to view the services.  Connect with Nazareth’s Facebook page at 9:00 a.m. each Sunday morning.  Or, watch the worship services on CFU cable television (channel 18 or 95.5) on Saturday evenings at 5:00 p.m. and/or Sunday mornings at 8:00 a.m.

GIVING: Many members of our staff continue to work from home as they are able.  As we deeply desire to continue to do the ministry God has called us to here at Nazareth, your continued generous support – of prayers, service, and financial gifts – is so important.  Even while we are apart physically, giving is still possible online at www.naz.org/give. You can also mail your donation to the church office or use the free GIVE+ Mobile App (by searching “GIVE PLUS CHURCH” in the app store). We truly cannot do this without you and are deeply grateful for your continued partnership! 

BE WELL.  BE COURAGEOUS.  BE LOVING.  BE THE CHURCH. We encourage all of Nazareth community members to follow the Governor’ guidelines in order to slow the spread of the virus.  Thank you for your grace, patience, and continued prayers for our church, our staff, our congregation members, our community, and our world.


MAUNDY THURSDAY – DAY OF PRAYER – APRIL 9, 2020

Governor Reynolds has asked that this Maundy Thursday be a Day of Prayer in Iowa. As people are hurting and struggling amid the Coronavirus pandemic and all the resulting social, economic, and political turmoil that has come with it, we would ask that you pray this prayer, attributed to St. Francis of Assisi:

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved, as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
And it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
Amen.

OFFICE HOURS UPDATE – APRIL 4, 2020

Effective until at least April 30, the Nazareth building will be open only from 9:00 a.m. to noon, Monday through Friday. The building will be closed on Saturdays and Sundays. We have also reduced staff hours. Thank you for your patience as we take these precautions to keep our team and community safe! Please stay home if you belong to an at risk population and/or if you are not feeling well.

NAZ KIDZ, CHAOS, BIGHOUSE AND BASIC – MARCH 25, 2020

In response to CDC guidelines that we practice physical distancing, we strongly encourage you to use phone or online communications rather than gathering face-to-face with your small groups and/or ministry communities at this time. Many groups have already begun to use Zoom – an online video chat application – to continue meeting and have also used Instagram, Facebook, phone calls, emails, text messaging and postal mail to stay in touch. In addition, our children and student ministry leaders have these plans in place to support our students, families and all Nazareth community members:

–Naz Kidz Ministry has been reaching out to families via email and distributing packets with devotionals, crafts, Bible verses and other fun, age-appropriate family activities. If your family would like to request a packet or to be placed onto the Naz Kidz email list, please email kim.albertson@naz.org.
–CHAOS is using a variety of ways to stay connected! We are using a new CHAOS texting number! Text 319-251-2050 using the following codes (to receive updates): CHAOS Parents Code: CHparent or CHAOS Students Code: CHstudent. The CHAOS: Living Room Edition will be on Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m. via Zoom. Each week, CHAOS will text & post the Zoom invitation link on Instagram so that students and families can join in. Small Group leaders will be contacting students about creative ways to meet as well. With questions, please email kristin.sauerbrei@naz.org.
–BIGhouse will be streaming worship on Wednesdays at 7:00 p.m. on Instagram Live and Facebook Live, and small groups are meeting online as well. With questions, please email kristina.mcburney@naz.org.
–BASIC has a variety of online ways for students to connect. Follow the BASIC Instagram page for frequent updates about daily opportunities to be in community together. BASIC is also using Zoom to gather students for worship on Thursday evenings at 8:00 p.m. With questions, please email sara.sladky@naz.org.

COMMUNION – MARCH 25, 2020

Due to Covid-19 precautions, Nazareth will not be serving home Communion at this time. With questions about Communion, please email Pastor Dennis Hanson at dennis.hanson@naz.org.

CABLE TELEVISION PUBLIC ACCESS – MARCH 24, 2020 

In a continuing effort to make our worship services available through a variety of methods, Nazareth’s Online Worship Service (from the previous Sunday) will be shared on Cedar Falls Public Access Channel (Channel 18 on CFU) on Saturday evenings at 5:00 p.m. and on Sunday mornings at 8:00 a.m.

NAZARETH CORONAVIRUS UPDATE – MARCH 17, 2020
In response to additional CDC guidelines (as well as additional governmental recommendations that there be no gatherings of more than 10 people), Nazareth has the following updates:

OFFICE HOURS:
Effective immediately and until at least April 13, the Nazareth building will be open from 9:00 a.m. to Noon, Monday through Friday. With these reduced building hours, we have also reduced staff hours. We thank you for your patience as we take these precautions to keep our team, our congregation and our community safe.

WORSHIP:
Nazareth will not be holding face-to-face worship services (both on Wednesday evenings and on Sunday mornings) until at least Sunday, May 10, or if or until the CDC revises these guidelines. However, a variety of online worship opportunities are currently being planned so that – while we are not together physically in the same place – we may continue to worship together in Spirit.

–Wednesday Lent Sermons will be posted online at 6:00 p.m. each Wednesday evening during Lent.

–Sunday Morning Worship Services will be posted online at 9:00 a.m. each Sunday morning.

These will be easily accessible by clicking the “Worship Online” icon at http://www.naz.org or by following our Facebook page. Additional updates – particularly for Holy Week and Easter Sunday Worship – will continue to be made as information becomes available.

MINISTRY CANCELLATIONS:
Additional ministry cancellations have also been made out of an abundance of caution. (This includes the Belong Class, the Financial Peace University Classes, the Tulip Time trip, the Gather Bible Study Groups, Search Class and Lifetouch Photo Directory Appointments.) Please check for ministry updates on the Nazareth website or contact the church office at 319-266-7589 with any specific questions. Lent Small Group leaders will be in touch with their groups regarding any changes or possible cancellations.

BLESSED BEGINNINGS:
For the time being and in keeping with the current Iowa Department of Human Services “Childcare Guidance in Response to COVID-19” recommendations, the Blessed Beginnings Learning Center will remain open.

Pandemic Hope Devotional: Several ELCA pastors have worked together to create an 8-week Devotional for families at this time. Each day has a Bible reading and an activity that families can do together. Please share with others!


WE NEED YOUR HELP:

Discussions are in place about how we, at Nazareth, can be a resource to our most vulnerable neighbors in the community, especially as they face the uncertainties that this situation brings. If you would like to help with creative solutions as to how we can best support all of our neighbors, please contact the church office. 

As we deeply desire to continue to do the ministry God has called us to here at Nazareth, your continued generous support – of prayers, service, and financial gifts – is so important.  Even if you are unable to attend worship in person, giving is still possible online at https://naz.org/give/ . Or, you can mail your donation to the church office. We truly cannot do this without you and are deeply grateful for your continued partnership!


March 16, 2020

WORSHIP SERVICES UPDATE:
The CDC updated its mass gathering guidance to postpone or cancel for the next 8 weeks any events with 50 or more people. The goal is to reduce the introduction of the virus into new communities and to slow the spread of infection in communities already affected by the virus. Because of this recommendation, Nazareth will not be holding face-to-face worship services (both on Wednesday evenings and on Sunday mornings) until at least Sunday, May 10, or if or until the CDC revises these guidelines. However, a variety of online worship opportunities are currently being planned so that – while we are not together physically in the same place – we may continue to worship together in Spirit.

–Wednesday Lent Sermons will be posted online at 6:00 p.m. each Wednesday evening during Lent.

–Sunday Morning Worship Services will be posted online at 9:00 a.m. each Sunday morning.

These will be easily accessible by clicking the “Worship Online” icon at http://www.naz.org or by following our Facebook page. Additional updates – particularly for Holy Week and Easter Sunday Worship – will continue to be made as information becomes available.

NAZARETH OFFICE/BUILDING HOURS UPDATE:
In addition to modifying worship, Nazareth is restructuring office hours: Effective immediately and until further notice, Nazareth offices will be open from 9 a.m. to 12 noon – Monday through Friday – and meetings will be limited from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Please contact Nazareth’s Director of Facilities, Marc Rath, at marc.rath@naz.org to make any needed scheduling changes.

BLESSED BEGINNINGS UPDATE:
For the time being and in keeping with the current Iowa Department of Human Services “Childcare Guidance in Response to COVID-19” recommendations, the Blessed Beginnings Learning Center will remain open.


March 14, 2020

Dear Nazareth Family,
Grace to you and peace!
Psalm 46:1 reminds us that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble.”
It is no surprise that one of Christendom’s greatest hymns: “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” written by Martin Luther was based on this powerful text. What many may not know is that written sometime between 1527-1529, Luther penned these powerful words not long after an outbreak of the Black Plague in Wittenberg infected and killed many where he lived and taught. The hymn begins with these words: “A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing: our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing.” It is an affirmation of the power of God over anything we face in this life, including illness. Our actions as a Church family are grounded in the Word of God and the hope we have in God alone.
The coronavirus outbreak is causing “times of trouble” like nothing our world has seen for over 100 years and the disruptions to normal life are numerous and happening very quickly with new recommendations and information coming daily and even hourly from the WHO, CDC, and state and local public health departments. In just the last 48 hours in Iowa we have seen numerous school closures, event cancellations and postponements and there is an understandable sense of fear and anxiety that many are feeling, particularly those over 60 years of age and/or those who are otherwise at significant risk due to underlying health problems. Out of care for each other and our most vulnerable neighbors we are now taking even stronger steps to help “flatten the curve” of the spread of the coronavirus.
In an earlier letter to the congregation we identified a 5-phase plan that would gradually unfold at Nazareth, and we will now move to Phases 3 and 4 of that plan which states:
PHASE #3 – Encourage all teams and nonessential gatherings to meet via phone, online, or postpone gatherings. Encourage all members who are over 60, have underlying health issues or are pregnant to remain home. Offer a worship service with no human contact and offer on-line options for the community. Suspend or cancel Sunday School, youth activities, adult forums and Lenten worship offerings (at least live options).
Phase #4 – In the event that the Cedar Falls Community School District closes and/or faith communities are asked not to gather in any way, we will move all worship services on-line or via video. The building will remain open to the public; however, hours are subject to change. Staff will work remotely or in the building.

SPECIFICALLY AS OF SUNDAY, MARCH 15:
Nazareth will be holding Worship Services at 9:00 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. TOMORROW, Sunday, MARCH 15, in the Nazareth Worship Center. However, as we respond to continuing Coronavirus (COVID-19) recommendations, there will be a few changes: In order to practice physical distancing, we will be greeting one another warmly with smiles and nods rather than handshakes or hugs. In addition, celebration of Holy Communion is temporarily suspended. All food items, including beverages, will be served directly to each individual by trained, healthy servers who are adhering to strict food safety requirements. There will be no KidzRock, Confirmation or Naz Nursery. Finally, our facilities team will continue to be sure that “high touch” areas are thoroughly cleaned.

If you are not feeling well, please stay home so that you do not share your sickness with others. If you would like to stay home out of an abundance of caution and/or because you are at a higher risk of complications, you are still invited to join us for prayer and worship online tomorrow morning. We plan to live-stream Pastor Brian King’s sermon “When the Truth Sets You Free” onto our Facebook page. This live-stream will begin at approximately 9:15 a.m.

MOVING FORWARD:
After tomorrow, Sunday, March 15, Nazareth will cancel all on-site services (Wednesday Lenten Worship Services and Sunday Services for this next week through March 22 – evaluating each week after that. We will choose instead to live-stream and/or pre-tape prayers, sermons and announcements, which will be shared online. Please note that all Lenten Soup Suppers and Thursday Fellowship Luncheons will also be canceled until at least Thursday, April 9. Funeral luncheons could still take place unless or until state and local health departments advise against it.

Blessed Beginnings will remain open at the present time. However, in the event that the Cedar Falls Community School District closes, Blessed Beginnings will close as well.

The Nazareth building will remain open to the public; however, hours are subject to change. Staff will work remotely or in the building. However, as this is an ever-changing situation, we may ultimately need to close the whole campus down for a period of several weeks. All small groups and other ministries are encouraged to consider CDC best practices in regards to meeting.

For more information on Nazareth’s response to the Coronavirus, please go to https://naz.org/coronavirus/.

Please note we will take this week-by-week, and we will keep you posted. We will also provide updates early next week regarding the status of our schedule of events for smaller groups at Nazareth, as well any digital resources we will provide for you, your families, and your groups during this time. No matter what happens, we will be here for you as a church. When it’s not possible for you to get to church, we’ll bring the church to you.
We appreciate your patience and understanding as we seek to be responsive to protecting and preserving the health and well-being of our members, staff and the neighbors we serve.

The dreaded plague came to Wittenberg, Germany in August of 1527. When Martin Luther was dealing with the Plague now known as “The Black Death”, he wrote these wise words that can help inform the way we approach things happening in our world right now and even here at Nazareth….
“I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance inflict and pollute others and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, he will surely find me and I have done what he has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me however I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely as stated above. See this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God.”

President Trump has declared Sunday, March 15, a National Day of Prayer. Whether you choose to worship with us in person or online or in spirit please consider the following prayer:

Kerry Weber
March 02, 2020
Jesus Christ, you traveled through towns and villages “curing every disease and illness.” At your command, the sick were made well. Come to our aid now, in the midst of the global spread of the coronavirus, that we may experience your healing love.
Heal those who are sick with the virus. May they regain their strength and health through quality medical care.
Heal us from our fear, which prevents nations from working together and neighbors from helping one another.
Heal us from our pride, which can make us claim invulnerability to a disease that knows no borders.
Jesus Christ, you traveled through towns and villages “curing every disease and illness.” Come to our aid now, that we may experience your healing love.
Jesus Christ, healer of all, stay by our side in this time of uncertainty and sorrow.
Be with those who have died from the virus. May they be at rest with you in your eternal peace.
Be with the families of those who are sick or have died. As they worry and grieve, defend them from illness and despair. May they know your peace.
Be with the doctors, nurses, researchers and all medical professionals who seek to heal and help those affected and who put themselves at risk in the process. May they know your protection and peace.
Be with the leaders of all nations. Give them the foresight to act with charity and true concern for the well-being of the people they are meant to serve. Give them the wisdom to invest in long-term solutions that will help prepare for or prevent future outbreaks. May they know your peace, as they work together to achieve it on earth.
Whether we are home or abroad, surrounded by many people suffering from this illness or only a few, Jesus Christ, stay with us as we endure and mourn, persist and prepare. In place of our anxiety, give us your peace.
Jesus Christ, heal us.

In The Strong Love of Christ,

Pastor Brian

————-

MARCH 5, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sister in Christ,

Grace to you and peace!

As new cases of the coronavirus are reported in other countries and across the United States, we at Nazareth and Blessed Beginnings are urging education, caution, and common sense — sharing a few basic guidelines to enable our Nazareth family to find useful, relevant information to plan our course of action and work to promote the health and wellbeing of our many staff, members, and guests.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that causes flu-like symptoms. As of March 4, there were 132 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the U.S. Doctors at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said that while they expect to see the number of cases increase as the disease spreads, they stress that the immediate risk of contracting the disease remains low.

Typical symptoms of coronavirus include fever and a cough that may progress to pneumonia, causing breathing difficulties, including shortness of breath. Most people who get it will contract a mild to moderate illness, a bit like flu. Generally, coronavirus can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with long-term conditions like diabetes, cancer, or chronic lung disease. 

Understandably, there are many questions circulating regarding appropriate precautionary measures around the coronavirus as news of this health threat continues to unfold. The basic information shared below should not be construed as medical advice, but as best practices and basic precautions. Because this is a rapidly changing situation, it will be crucial to keep checking the latest guidance and information from the CDC.

Some of these everyday precautions, focused on good hygiene measures, are common sense — helpful to keep in mind anytime and especially during cold and flu season. It’s also important to note that this information, gathered from a number of sources, is far from complete. Continue to check the reliable sources noted below — the CDC, the World Health Organization – to keep abreast of the situation in the U.S. If transmission of the coronavirus changes significantly, changes in hygiene protocols may be suggested to optimize protection.

Here are a number of precautionary measures we would encourage:
• Stay home if you are feeling sick.
• Wash your hands frequently (before and after coming to church).
• Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
• Disinfect surfaces used regularly.
• Use hand sanitizer.
• Avoid close contact with someone who is sick.
• Practice these precautionary measures at home and pass this information along to family and friends.

If you have traveled internationally or domestically (where there are confirmed cases during the last 14 days), feel sick with fever or cough, or have difficulty breathing the CDC has several recommendations:
• Seek medical advice. Call ahead before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room.
• Tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.
• Avoid contact with others.
• Do not travel while sick.
• Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when coughing or sneezing.
• Clean your hands often by washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60%–95% alcohol immediately after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose. Soap and water should be used if hands are visibly dirty.

Additional helpful information may be found at the following links:

Five Things To Know About The Coronavirus

CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Information About The Coronavirus

At Nazareth we will remain vigilant and proactive amid this evolving situation continuing to offer all our normal services and ministries unless or until it is neither safe nor prudent to do so.  We have wipes and/or hand sanitizer available within our building and will avoid physical contact during greeting times moving forward.  

We urge you to pray for all who have already contracted the virus and who are at greater risk to do so, as well as for all medical professionals throughout the world who are working to stop the spread of this and other viruses and to find a cure for those already infected.   If you are not well or someone at risk, stay home, stay safe and remember you can access sermons and other important congregational information on our website. We also encourage you to continue your faithful and generous support of Nazareth and its ministry through online giving and/or by mailing your tithes and offerings to the church when you are unable to attend and be present in person for any reason.  This will allow our witness and ministry to remain strong and vibrant through any disruptions the spread of COVID-19 may cause.

We believe that, as the faith community, we have a special responsibility to care for our fellow congregants and communities.  When we are prepared, we are in a better position to help others. Our demonstration of love of neighbor also requires us to counter scapegoating and prejudice such as already has been shown to some Chinese and Chinese-Americans. They are not to blame for the coronavirus.

Psalm 46:1 reminds us that “God is our refuge and strength in times of trouble” and may God watch over you, our Nazareth family, our communities and world in the days ahead.

In The Strong love of Christ,

Pastor Brian and the Nazareth Church Council