We will Worship on Sunday ~ Please read a note from our Pastor Linda Alessandri

March 13, 2020

Dear Haven Family and Friends,

We have heard much about the coronavirus. You have probably heard that Maryland schools are closed until the end of the month and various large-group events have been cancelled as well.

In these anxious times, we can remain hopeful and steady because we know our God is with us now, our Lord who is greater than corona. We also know it is through God’s gifts that our medical, scientific and governing bodies are equipped to address the coronavirus and try to limit its spread and impact. For that we give God thanks.

I think we have been offered some sound advice from Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, Presiding Bishop of the E.L.C.A., who wrote: “Respect the disease. Do not take unnecessary risks. Provide for the spiritual needs of the neighbor. Make use of medical aid. Care for one another, especially the most vulnerable.” This Sunday, we are planning to gather as God’s people for worship, to share God’s Word, Holy Communion and to lift up the country and world in prayer.

We will alter some of our worship customs to follow recommended safe practices. We will offer one another the “Peace of the Lord” without touching or by grasping the lower arms of the person you are greeting. Rather than passing the offering plates, we will put them at the entrances for you to place your offering and attendance form as you enter or leave worship. All those assisting with communion distribution will use the prescribed hand sanitizer throughout worship. I will place the bread in hands without touching hands. Our Altar Guild will be preparing the communion trays so that the cups can be grasped and taken without touching other cups. For their protection, the acolyte will wear gloves, take the used cups and put them in a tray. As we follow these thoughtful precautions, we hope you will find them to be reassuring safeguards for our health.

If you are uncomfortable about attending worship until the threat of the virus has passed, we understand. If you are in one of the categories of higher risk with breathing issues, a compromised immune system or other health concerns, we encourage you to avoid large gatherings as advised by the medical community. If you have flu like symptoms, please stay home and get well. If you have traveled to a high risk area, please make certain that you do not have symptoms before attending.

We will continue to monitor the situation and will update our decisions as needed. We will note any changes on our website, Facebook and the office phone messaging system. Please keep in touch vulnerable members and neighbors. May I ask one favor — IF you know a member or friend of our congregation who does not use or frequently check e-mail, would you please call them with the information contained in this letter. I would like to keep as much of the Haven community informed as possible.  In prayer and phone contact, we can help one another through these unchartered waters of the coronavirus.

I remain available to you via phone or e-mail, at home or in the office and, as long as it is advisable, for home and hospital visits. Please do not hesitate to contact me. Rest in the assurance that God is with us and will remain with us in, through and into the other side of this public health concern.

Your pastor and partner in ministry,
Linda M Alessandri

 Some information from the Maryland Dept. of Health

https://phpa.health.maryland.gov/Pages/Novel-coronavirus.aspx

COVID-19 is thought to be able to spread like the cold or flu through:

  • coughing and sneezing, which creates respiratory droplets
  • close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
  • touching an object or surface with the virus on it

Symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • fever
  • coughing
  • shortness of breath
  • in more severe cases, pneumonia (infection in the lungs)

The vast majority of people recover from this infection. Most people will have mild or moderate symptoms. Older people and those with pre-existing medical conditions have a greater risk for more serious illness.

Prevention

There is currently no vaccine for COVID-19. Many experts are at work developing one. As with any new vaccine, it must be tested to make certain it is safe and effective. It may take over a year for a COVID-19 vaccine to become available.

You can take everyday preventive steps that are always recommended to slow the spread of respiratory illnesses like colds and flu:

  • wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds
  • use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol if soap and water are not available
  • cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue, your sleeve or your elbow
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using standard cleaning practices
  • avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • if you are sick, stay home, except when seeking medical care

Those at Higher Risk of Becoming Seriously from COVID-19: 

Older Adults and Individuals with Pre-Existing Medical Conditions

Older adults (age 60+) and those with pre-existing medical conditions have a greater risk for serious illness, and in some cases death, if they become infected with COVID-19. Examples of pre-existing medical conditions include: cancer, diabetes, heart disease and other conditions that impact the immune system’s ability to fight germs.

Currently, people are at risk for contracting COVID-19 who:

  • recently traveled to geographic areas of concern
  • have close, personal contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19
  • care for people with COVID-19

If you are an older adult or you have one and more chronic health conditions, you can take action to reduce your risk of exposure to COVID-19:

  • take everyday precautions to keep space between yourself and others
  • when you go out in public, keep away from others who are sick, limit close contact and wash your hands often with soap and water or hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol content
  • avoid crowds as much as possible