March 31, 2020
To The Connectional Church:
Council of Bishops African Methodist Episcopal Church
In light of the uncertainty around the spread and management of the novel coronavirus pandemic, Covid-19, the leadership of the African Methodist Episcopal Church has rightly placed the health and well-being of our members as the fundamental priority. Thus, it has been determined that it is wise and prudent to reschedule the 51st General Conference. The results of a series of conversations with officials in Orange County and the Convention Center, and several meetings with the Bishops, and the most recent meeting of the General Conference Commission, a decision has been made to postpone the General Conference. We are currently considering alternative dates in collaboration with the Convention Center and Officials in Orange County/Orlando that will also include dates in 2021. A date certain will be announced within the next few weeks — when all hotel and Convention Center negotiations are complete.
Worldwide, COVID-19 has infected more than 800,000 confirmed cases and finding new victims to assault every day. As of this writing, more than 39,000 people have died. The necrology is growing exponentially daily. Florida is now listed as a “hotspot” with more than 5,000 confirmed cases. By Executive Order, Orange County Mayor, Jerry Demings, has issued a “stay-at-home” order.
Our utmost concern is for the safety and health of the AMEC family as we would potentially gather for our quadrennial meeting, as well as an overarching concern for public health around the globe, especially as it pertains to the novel coronavirus. We are committed to following the policies mandated by official government agencies, and the protocols of best practices to flatten the curve of new cases determined by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Concerning our General Conference, all manner of possibilities are being considered.. Also being considered is the economic impact that a shortened General Conference Program might have as a long-term benefit to the denomination, for the local church, and for delegates, alternates and observers attending the Conference. All considerations, however, must include the full participation of Districts 14 — 20.
Please pray for the health of the world, the nations, and the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
The Right Reverend Harry L. Seawright
Council of Bishops
On Monday, March 30th, 2020 Christianity Today published, “The CARES Act & Your Church Staff: What You Need to Know & 4 Steps to Take Now“. This is recommended reading as the CARES Act can provide access to low-interest loans that convert into grants from the Small Business Administration (SBA) if the terms of the loan are followed.
Visit The Council of Bishop’s Facebook Page for messages and resources related to worship and staying healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic. View a message from Bishop Anne Henning Byfield on Facebook.
On January 30, 2020, the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee of the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a “public health emergency of international concern” (PHEIC). On January 31, 2020, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex M. Azar II declared a public health emergency (PHE) for the United States to aid the nation’s healthcare community in responding to COVID-19.
Most people who become infected experience mild illness and recover, but it can be more severe for others, particularly older people and those with underlying medical conditions. Here are some simple steps you can take to protect your health and the health of other people. Everyone can follow these recommendations. They are particularly important if you are in an area where people are known to have COVID-19.
The World Health Organization has a detailed collection of information on the Coronavirus (COVID-19) on a dedicated page. The top link on the page to “Protect Yourself” has written and video guidelines on steps that you need to take in order to protect yourself from infection.
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a dedicated page with Coronavirus (COVID-19) resources. Most importantly the page contains links to information on, “How to Protect Yourself” and what to do, “If You Think You Are Sick”. In addition to these resources, there are specific resources including checklists for community and faith-based organization leaders. Further down on the page is a map titled, “COVID-19 Cases in the U.S.”, click on your state to be taken to your state’s department of health to seek specific guidance regarding Coronavirus in your community.