Baltimore Yearly Meeting and Friends from across our region are following the developments regarding Covid-19 (also called coronavirus or novel coronavirus). We want to share some of the suggestions and advices we have received for how individuals, local worshipping communities, and the Yearly Meeting should proceed. All of this information, like the situation itself, will continue to evolve.
Suggestions for individual Friends:
- The best recommendations we have seen for healthy adult individuals include:
- Thorough and frequent hand washing (20 seconds with soap and water);
- Use of hand sanitizer solutions (minimum 70% alcohol) if hand washing isn’t an option;
- Avoid exposure to respiratory fluids of other people;
- Avoid touching part of mouth and eyes if hands haven’t been recently cleaned;
- Avoid sharing dishes and utensils with other people;
- Stay home if there is any feeling of illness;
- Older people and those who are potentially at greater risk if they become infected should limit exposure to others in general.
Suggestions for our local worshipping communities:
Some Meetings have approved statements and practices for how they are proceeding with Meeting for Worship, First Day School, and/or Meeting for Worship with a Concern for Business. Links to the individual statements that we have received are at the bottom of this note. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have suggestions specifically for faith-based organizations to consider. Based on these suggestions, the Yearly Meeting would suggest that Friends consider these options:
- Use a different method of ending worship than the traditional shaking of hands (e.g. bump elbows or jazz hands);
- Review food handling and serving processes with the Hospitality Committee to limit contamination;
- Encourage Friends who are ill, or even possibly ill, to refrain from coming to Meeting;
- Work with Ministry and Pastoral Care Committee to consider alternate methods of creating community for worship. Some Meetings have experimented with teleconferenced worship;
- If possible, provide hand sanitizer for use before entering the worship space;
- Hold everyone in the Meeting, especially the leadership who is working to discern the best possible options in difficult times, in the Light.
Baltimore Yearly Meeting planning for coming events:
The Yearly Meeting has several events planned in the next months. As we move forward, the staff and leadership of the Yearly Meeting will continually review the news and developments and make adjustments as needed.
The next event is Third Month 2020 Interim Meeting for Saturday, March 21 at Hopewell Centre Monthly Meeting. On the part of BYM, the Clerk of Interim Meeting has the final determination (in consultation with our hosts at Hopewell Centre) on whether we proceed with the day as planned. Currently, she has announced her intent to hold Interim Meeting. We will follow as many of the suggestions listed above as are possible, and our hosts at Hopewell Centre Monthly Meeting have been making appropriate arrangements as well. If there hasn’t already been a change, we intend to send a message on the morning of Friday, March 20 with a final update on the plans and as many details of any special arrangements as we have available.
Further ahead are events planned by Youth Programs, the Stewardship and Finance Committee, the Reparations Interest Group, the Peace and Social Concerns Committee, the Camp Property Management Committee, and the Spiritual Formation Program. The organizers of these events will coordinate with the staff and leadership of the Yearly Meeting and information about adjustments or cancellations will be shared as needed.
More distant in the future are the summer season for BYM Camps and Annual Session 2020. While the leaders of these programs are already considering contingencies, these events are so far in the future that definitive statements or decisions can’t yet be made. Announcements about these programs will be made as clarity is available.
We encourage everyone to pay attention to the situation, and make the best decisions for themselves and their loved ones. Give thought to how your actions can help or hurt those around you and exercise charity and patience for everyone. Please continue to hold everyone in the Yearly Meeting who is working to deal with these issues, and everyone in the world who has been affected by Covid-19, in the Light.