Dear Church Member and Friend of the Kentucky-Tennessee Conference,
Perhaps you’re aware, our territory is presently being ravaged by the spread of the Covid-19 virus. The State of Tennessee is presently a world leader in Covid-19 infection rate, and transmissions continue to escalate. The State of Kentucky’s rate is equally troubling.
Administration recognizes that, since the start of the pandemic, we have had some employees and some churches disagree with the seriousness of the risk posed by Covid. Yet, after ten months of this challenge, surely, all of us are now aware of friends, and possibly family, who have not only suffered with Covid, but some who have also been hospitalized and some who have died.
As Administration, we have struggled with imposing our collective will upon our congregations; a minority of whom have resisted practicing safe protocol. We have previously chosen to insist that all employees and their churches abide by local laws and regulations and practice common sense protocols to lessen virus transmission among our worshipping congregations.
So, what has changed? It is much more dangerous now than last March when we first addressed this challenge. Far more individuals are now suffering with Covid, and many more are at risk. Groups of almost any size spending a few hours together in an enclosed room are posing risk to each other; and thus, to everyone else they will connect with the rest of the week.
In light of the continued skyrocketing rate of Covid transmission, I now URGE you to discontinue live in-person worship services, where the congregation comes into the building and worships on Sabbath.
To help better understand the risk, I am also posting an important letter of opinion and perspective from Dr. Cody Chastain, an Internal Medicine physician and Infectious Disease specialist, who practices at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and the Vanderbilt Hospital System in Nashville. I would encourage you to review Dr. Cody Chastain’s perspective and plea. Dr. Lee Carter, an E.R. Physician and member in Bowling Green, Kentucky, has also expressed a very passionate plea that supports Dr. Chastain’s letter.
In summary, Administration is asking church leaders to discontinue live congregational worship thru the month of January. We will then reassess and reevaluate what we as a conference are facing with the contagion rates. Presently, the Conference Office remains closed to visitors and most of our office support staff thru the end of the year.
It’s not possible, nor Administration’s choice, to act as “worship cops” and attempt to identify those who are not in compliance with the directive shared here. Instead, I would URGE you to do the right and sensible thing; act in high regard for your safety and protection and that of your church family and your community. You may feel little or no risk to yourself; but, others with whom you come into contact may contract Covid and suffer or die. I would hope that we would all agree; that’s a very serious responsibility.
May God bless and keep you,
Dr. Steve Haley, President
Kentucky-Tennessee Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
To read Dr. Cody Chastain’s letter, click here.