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Communication advice in times of high uncertainty

Naughton

Communication advice in times of high uncertainty

The Coronavirus threat has prompted Jim Naughton to compose two twitter threads on church communication.

The first thread begins:

And, further into the thread,

The second thread begins:

Jim Naughton is the founding editor of The Episcopal Café which he edited from 2007 to 2014.

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Helen Kromm

The church response has already been inadequate and arguably feckless and negligent. You need only read the Bishop's statement posted within these pages last week and apparently distributed verbatim by Bishops across the country. Our churches are populated by a large number of seniors who are disproportionately more at risk with this virus.

This is a virus with an incubation period that in some cases can be weeks. You can carry this virus for weeks and infect others and not know it. This is also a virus that does not require direct contact to contract it. You can be within six feet of an individual that is infected and contract this virus.

The very worst part of this are these quotes from the Bishop's advisory: "As long as you are feeling well and have not been in conscious contact with persons and places of known exposure to the virus, then continue to worship as usual." And this from Sutton: "Go to Church!".

This advice runs directly counter to CDC guidance as it pertains to the elderly. See here: https://www.cnn.com/world/live-news/coronavirus-outbreak-03-06-20-intl-hnk/h_61124fdbd3d245df6efaaed765b21ac0

The CDC is now formally advising senior citizens to avoid public gatherings to include church. We have Bishops telling us "Go to church", and simultaneously we have the CDC instructing seniors to do exactly the opposite.

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B.D. Howes

I want to encourage people seeking information and guidance to go to a primary source, such as the CDC, instead of news services which are at best unreliable and at worst written to generate clicks. "News" articles are also less likely to be updated than primary sources. The best advice is to use common sense. People with a high risk profile should be particularly cautious but everyone should take care to minimize everyone's risk of exposure. A cool head and due caution is good for everyone; panic is good for no one.

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Eric Bonetti

I wholeheartedly agree. In fact, the majority of parish websites I have seen make no reference to COVID-19, and continue to invite people to Lenten learning sessions and other group events.

Wake up people. This is not business as usual. Your first obligation is to care for those entrusted to you. It is not to keep people coming in the door to ensure that the cash keeps rolling in. And Jim is right—bishops who say they cannot ban the common cup for historical or canonical reasons ignore the reality that the church ignores both all the time. Just look at the GC resolution to sell 815. The church hierarchy continues to pour money into that fusty old heap — one that last I checked, doesn’t even have a visitor’s center. Please.

And by the way, now is the time to learn how to live stream your services, how to do morning and evening prayer via the web, and more. Not only will it help keep your parish safe, but in doing so, you finally may learn to meet young people where they actually are — in cyberspace, on social media, and online. Nor does having a website and Facebook page and posting your sermons online cut it. While these may be part and parcel of your larger media presence, we are talking about a full range of interactive possibilities.

Don’t know where to begin? Ask your twenty-somethings. They will be delighted to help, and I bet they would help you for free if you just ask.

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