Category: Public Health

July 20, 2021

COVID Cases, Risk Up in SEPA

The nationwide increase in COVID cases is affecting Southeastern Pennsylvania. As of July 20, the CDC reported that community transmission risk is moderate in our suburban counties, up from low risk two weeks ago. Risk of community transmission in Philadelphia is low. According to Dr. Tim Babinchak, a local infectious disease expert, “we are definitely...

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July 12, 2021

Prayer and Encouragement from Bishop Davenport

In a video message, Bishop Patricia A. Davenport offers prayer for our leaders and congregations as together we continue to press through to the other side of the pandemic. In this pastoral word of encouragement, the Bishop asks Lutherans to be gentle with one another as individuals and congregations have varying feelings about returning to...

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June 9, 2021

New Guidance for Safer Worship and Sacraments

Long-awaited guidance from the Ecumenical Consultation on Protocols for Worship, Fellowship and Sacraments, released June 8, advises houses of worship to go slowly with in-person gatherings where vaccinated and unvaccinated persons occupy the same space. “The group suggests limiting touching except where Christian rituals, such as laying on of hands for confirmation, require it; avoiding...

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June 28, 2021

COVID Precautions: Vaccines and Protect Vulnerable People

Although the coronavirus is “never going to go away,” the good news is that “it’s as safe (now) as it’s going to get at this point,” infectious disease expert Dr. Tim Babinchak told SEPA leaders on a Zoom call June 24. “And as more people get vaccinated, it will get safer.” During his presentation, Dr....

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June 18, 2021

The Pandemic Is Not Yet Over

Update: June 18, 2021 Infectious disease specialist Dr. Tim Babinchak tells us that he has not significantly changed the advice he gave to us last month. He wrote in an email today: ‟Most of my recommendations remain the same as vaccination progress appears to be stalling and we are seeing the more contagious Delta variant...

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May 26, 2021

Pandemic Progress Toward a New Normal

As new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations trend downward, our congregations can begin to look forward to our new abnormal for worship and congregational life. “Focus on moving forward, not going back,” says Pastor Bob Fisher, assistant to the bishop for communications. “Worship won’t immediately be what we remember, yet the creativity we have employed will...

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May 26, 2021

Empathy: A Pandemic Silver Lining?

In recognition that May is Mental Health Awareness Month, Elise Seyfried (Christ’s, Oreland) shares her experience with bipolar disorder at LivingLutheran.org: “As Christians we are called to walk in each other’s shoes, to find common ground, to love and support one another. That isn’t always easy, especially when we struggle to connect emotionally with our...

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May 14, 2021

Update on Mask Requirements

Updated May 15, 2021 The CDC released new guidance for vaccinated individuals May 13. Guidance has been changing over the last week, and this does not require immediate change by congregations. The CDC has not yet released updates for businesses, schools, or community gatherings. Update: Pennsylvania follows CDC guidelines on masks. It is important to note that...

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May 12, 2021

Infectious Disease Expert Shares COVID Update

COVID Considerations for Church Leaders COVID is not going away, yet we now have effective vaccines and effectual therapies to reduce the incidences of infections and deaths, infectious disease specialist Dr. Tim Babinchak told SEPA leaders in a Zoom conference May 11. Dr. Babinchak, a  member of St. John’s Lutheran Church, Phoenixville, and retired head...

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May 11, 2021

COVID Considerations for Church Leaders

As government restrictions ease and vaccinations rise, how do we respond as church? What data should church leaders rely on as they responsibly return to in-person worship while protecting the most vulnerable – including the unvaccinated and children – who may not be protected for months? Join us for this conversation with Dr. Tim Babinchak,...

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March 2, 2021

Resuming Care-Filled Worship, March 2021

Bishop Davenport continues to call on congregations to make safety a priority in determining whether to gather online, outdoors, or indoors. Loving our neighbors calls us to take care not to increase risks to our neighborhoods, our worshippers, or our worship leaders.    The latest guidance from the Ecumenical Consultation on Worship, Fellowship, and Sacramental...

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February 16, 2021

Continued Recommendation for Online-only Worship

Although we are encouraged with overall declines in new COVID-19 cases, the counties of Southeastern Pennsylvania are still rated as having “very high” or “extremely high” risk of community transmission of the virus. Bishop Davenport continues to strongly recommend that congregations do not hold indoor worship until further notice. In addition, the bishop recommends that...

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January 5, 2021

Bishop Extends Recommendation for No In-person Worship

Bishop Davenport Greetings, Beloved! As we enter this new year 2021, I am writing to extend my strong recommendation that congregations do not offer in-person worship until further notice. My recommendation, made after much prayer and discernment, is based on our core Lutheran conviction of loving our neighbors – whether they be people in our communities, congregation...

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December 9, 2020

Guidelines for Virtual Congregational Meetings

A number of congregations have requested guidance on holding meetings remotely using teleconferencing or virtual technology during the current pandemic. Rev. Secretary Karl Richard has created a document that attempts to address some of the issues that need to be addressed in preparing for and conducting meetings in this way. This document is applicable for...

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November 17, 2020

Bishop’s Letter Regarding Latest COVID Spike

Bishop Davenport Nov 17 2020    Greetings, Beloved,   “Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.”   Romans 12:12   Right now, new cases of COVID-19, positive test rates, and hospitalizations are spiking across Southeastern Pennsylvania. Public health officials are issuing new mitigation orders in our area. In order to protect our most vulnerable members, our pastors...

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October 2, 2020

Housing Insecurity Resources for Churches

Lutheran Congregational Services, with their partners in disaster, have put together resources for congregations and other community organizations who may get questions from people who are facing housing insecurity or homelessness, some of whom may never have faced this before. The resources are linked below and include contact information for mostly state agencies and state...

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September 21, 2020

A Word of Encouragement from Bishop Davenport

Bishop Davenport Greetings beloved. If I could sing, I would sing I woke up this morning with my mind stayed on Jesus, which I did. However, I also had you on my mind, and I just wanted to pause today just to say, God bless you. And I am so grateful for each and every one of...

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September 1, 2020

Fox 29 Recognizes Welcome Bread

Fox 29’s Bill Anderson talked with Lou Farrell, the organizer of Welcome Bread, which has so far collected and distributed more than 30,000 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to persons in need or experiencing homelessness since April. “There is no excuse for people to be hungry in this country, and if you have the opportunity...

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August 26, 2020

Singing in Church?

A recent online conversation with pastors and communicators discussed the steps congregations are taking to return to worship. This is a complicated subject. In Pennsylvania, religious organizations are specifically exempted from the governor’s July 15 mitigation order.    Answering questions about singing is harder since the CDC removed language from their website that asked houses...

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July 29, 2020

Going Green: Counties In Last Phase of Reopening

Updated July 29, 2020 “Our highest priority is to do no harm” Our suburban counties entered the Green phase of reopening on Friday, June 26. Philadelphia is now modified green but reporting “High Risk of Community Transmission” as of July 29. The Green phase is not a return to pre-pandemic normals. Organizations must still follow practices for...

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