March 13, 2020
Like many of you, we at Disciples Volunteering have been following news about the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) with increasing attention and concern. As the situation changes daily, our approach continues to evolve. In fact, a letter was drafted yesterday that felt completely out of date by this afternoon. Rather than racing to keep up, we feel that is necessary to get ahead of developments.
Out of an abundance of concern that traveling mission teams may unwittingly carry the virus into a community and particularly to the vulnerable people with whom we serve, and with equal concern for groups who might unknowingly pick up the virus and carry it home to loved ones, Disciples Volunteering is suspending operations at our current mission stations and advising against any mission travel for the next month. We will continue to monitor developments and issue guidance regarding the impact of COVID-19 on mission station operations through the late spring and summer. Our next update will come by the end of March.
We do not reach this decision lightly. The sudden restrictions placed on international travel have us concerned about the possibility that similar, or even more restrictive measures, could be expanded on short notice. The fluidity of the situation and significant measures enacted across the country (as in the growing number of states where schools have been closed) require a proactive response. In addition, conversations with medical professionals have illuminated the need for action to slow the spread of the virus so that medical systems can keep pace with the rate of infection, providing adequate care to all who need it.
Reaching this decision has been all the more difficult because Disciples Volunteering is grounded in the importance of presence: we witness to the love of our God with our neighbors (near and far) by showing up when there is need. This desire to serve is rooted in our love of neighbor and our belief in a God who works to restore all things. In this time, however, our witness is best reflected by not showing up: by not unduly putting our neighbors, our loved ones, and ourselves at risk. Our most loving action and the best way to partner in God’s restorative work is to limit our potential exposure to COVID-19.
We know that this will come as a disappointment to many. We give thanks for all who have prayed, planned, and prepared for their mission trips. We will work with those who now must put their plans on hold to reschedule if possible and to ensure that the cancellation of travel is not an undue burden on any who would have participated.
Thank you for your commitment to serve,
Director, Disciples Volunteering