Category: Public Health

November 23, 2021

Winter COVID Update with Dr. Babinchak

How will the availability of vaccines for 5 to 11-year-olds impact church activities for Advent and Christmas? What about travel and gatherings for the holidays, and the onset of colder weather?  Dr. Tim Babinchak, an infectious disease specialist, joined us for our regular COVID update for congregations and leaders. Watch by clicking this link (Passcode is sepa!comms2021). WATCH...

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October 1, 2021

Answers to Your Questions From Dr. Babinchak

Dr. Tim Babinchak, an infectious disease specialist and member of St. John’s Lutheran Church, Phoenixville, has been offering guidance for responding to COVID to SEPA Synod this year. Here he answers some current questions from SEPA leaders. If you have a question for Dr. Babinchak, please send it to Pastor Bob Fisher at rfisher@sepa.org.  ...

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September 23, 2021

Ideas for Adapting Worship and Congregational Life

Ideas:  Adapting Congregational Life In September 2021, 40 SEPA Synod congregations responded to our informational survey regarding changes to worship in the midst of the current Delta variant surge. Most of the congregations report requiring or strongly suggesting the wearing of masks inside their buildings. Some have agreed to stop worship if attendees do not...

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September 17, 2021

Dr. Osterholm: A Whole New Ballgame

Last week was the single worst week for pediatric COVID cases since the start of the pandemic, with more than a quarter-million new cases diagnosed, epidemiologist Michael Osterholm said on Thursday’s edition of his podcast. Cases among children aged 0-17 account for 30 percent of all cases in the U.S., he said. Cases among children...

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September 16, 2021

Check Latest COVID Conditions

Check COVID-19 new cases, positive test rates, and ICU utilization for your county to determine the relative safety of indoor or outdoor gatherings. COVID CONDITIONS IN YOUR COUNTY CDC DATA TRACKER In its latest guidance, the Ecumenical Consultation on Protocols for Worship, Fellowship, and Sacraments recommends the following metrics for resuming in-person outdoor or indoor...

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September 13, 2021

Delta Variant Precautions

Dr. Tim Babinchak, an expert in infectious diseases, advises congregations to continue with the precautions of wearing masks, maintaining social distancing, cleaning, and increasing ventilation as they continue with indoor worship services and other activities.    A member of St. John’s Lutheran Church, Phoenixville, ihe s retired head of infectious diseases at Thomas Jefferson University...

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August 3, 2021

‘Substantial’ Virus Seen in SEPA

As of August 1, the CDC reports that Philadelphia, Bucks, Delaware and Montgomery counties are experiencing “substantial” community transmission of coronavirus. The CDC recommends that all people, vaccinated or not, wear masks and maintain physical distancing in indoor public or multi-household gatherings. See this article explaining CDC guidance. Unvaccinated persons, including all children under 12...

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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 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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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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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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