May 28, 2020
Weekly Update schedule
This is the last week we are planning to publish this update, which was begun in the absence of congregations being able to meet together. Should circumstances change, we can always easily resume it. We hope it has been of service to you during this time of unusual conditions.
This Sabbath, May 30, will mark 12 consecutive weeks that we have had webcast services from the McKinney office. We are prepared to continue these webcasts if necessary, but with local webcasts available and with local congregations beginning in-person services, we don’t anticipate an ongoing need. Therefore, at this time we are scheduling only two more webcasts from the headquarters office. These will be held on:
- Sabbath, May 30, at 12 noon Central Daylight Time.
- Feast of Pentecost, May 31, at 12 noon Central Daylight Time.
The headquarters webcast can be accessed by going to cogwa.tv (no password necessary) or your Roku channel. Simultaneous translations in Spanish and in French are also provided on cogwa.tv and Roku. Congregations hosting webcasts have their information posted in alphabetical order on cogwa.tv. If your church area is not listed, contact your pastor to receive information about your local webcast.
Plans for resuming Sabbath services
May 30 is the earliest date U.S. congregations will resume meeting for weekly services. Pastors have guidelines for deciding when and how to start meeting together again and will convey those to the members in their congregations. Circumstances vary from place to place and country to country, of course, so the opportunities to begin meeting together will likewise vary widely.
Holy day offering on the Feast of Pentecost
The holy day offering will be collected in the same manner as during the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
Reports from international areas
New Zealand (Andre van Belkum)
This is a “good day” as the NZ government has announced that churches may now congregate with up to 100 people. So it is just in time for this coming weekend with the Sabbath and Pentecost on Sunday.
There have been no new cases announced for about one week. Members have done exceptionally well under the circumstances. As stated before, no members have lost their jobs, despite other workers being laid off at their places of employment. Two brothers who work for the same company were told their positions are secure despite a 25 percent reduction in staff. I believe this demonstrates a good and reliable work ethic. As far as I am aware, all members have returned to their places of employment. What is especially pleasing is that members have retained a positive and upbeat attitude.
So, some good news after a rather dismal few weeks!
Malawi (Elifazi Salawila)
First, here is an update of COVID-19 in Malawi:
- Total people infected: 101
- Total deaths: 4
- Total people recovered: 37
- Total people on quarantine: 60
However, although the situation here is better off compared with some of the other surrounding countries, the cost of living is becoming hard. All borders are closed. Business in the whole country is going down. Most of the brethren depend on business. That means most brethren are facing hard life. What we are hoping is that probably things are going to change. When this pandemic will pass away, life probably will go back to normal.
Mexico (Larry Roybal)
Luis Alomía, the general director of epidemiology for Mexico, said Tuesday that Mexico is now the number one country in Latin America with lethally infected people with the virus.
- Mexico 10.7%
- Ecuador 8.5%
- Brazil 6.2%
- Columbia 3.4%
- Peru 2.9%
- Chile 1.0%
According to the World Health Organization, Mexico is now considered an epicenter to the pandemic. As of yesterday 71,633 infected people were officially registered, and this number is climbing. I am receiving firsthand data from one doctor, several nurses and others in the Church who work directly in the public health sector. They are telling me that things are only getting worse. The national news center reported yesterday that there are approximately 100 persons per day being admitted to hospitals in Mexico City. Many of the hospitals do not have the sufficient equipment or protection in order to administer adequate treatment and care.
Mexico is still in stage-three lockdown mode in this pandemic and is probably in the most critical part because of the danger of infection. We are hearing that we may not be able to assemble until late September or maybe even early October, which worries us because of the Feast of Tabernacles. Things will get more complicated come winter time when the influenza will hit the most vulnerable also.
The economy is also beginning to suffer very much also. As a whole, Mexico’s imports and exports have plummeted almost 40 percent, and many thousands of people have lost their jobs. Unfortunately, because of this, crime is also on the rise.
Members, however, in spite of all this turmoil, are in high spirits. We (the ministry) have made good efforts to keep them well fed spiritually with daily short encouraging messages and Bible studies via the Internet. Good things have been produced during this bad situation. Members are calling to encourage each other as never before, and a lot of prayers are being elevated for one another. Many lessons have been learned, and we in the ministry have become more creative and resourceful in attending to the brethren’s needs.
Please keep us in your prayers—for which we are very grateful as well—as we continue to pray for all the brethren around the world.
South Africa (Morgen Kriedemann)
Last night the president of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, made a sudden and surprising announcement that church gatherings of up to 50 will be allowed “in places of worship.” Our challenge is that we in Johannesburg used to meet in the hall of a retirement village and in a schoolroom in Durban. Neither of these are likely to welcome us back due to their own COVID concerns. I am looking for alternative meeting places.
Chile (Saul Langarica)
(May 13) As you know, the weather in this part of the world is becoming cooler. Because of that, the coronavirus problem is growing. The number of infected people is growing very much, as well as the deaths. The government is hardening the rules, and so about the whole city of Santiago is under total cuarentena indefinitely. However, we are already organized to transmit services from the houses of the men participating directly in services.
(May 27) Prayers are requested for 10 members of the Santiago, Chile, congregation, who have come down with COVID-19. Thankfully, their condition is not serious, and they are quarantined at home, under treatment by local doctors. Since winter is just beginning in Chile and therefore the risk of contracting the virus is increasing, prayers are requested for God’s intervention and protection.
French Africa (Joel Meeker)
At the end of March we sent $1200 in emergency food assistance to the Kinshasa, Congo, congregation. We sent $100 in assistance for training seminars and $700 for improved corn seed and cassava plantings for the farmers that support 73 people in Church families in the center-west of the country. This should enable them to increase their harvest by about 60 percent from now on, making them less dependent on outside assistance. We just today sent $1000 to assist four church families in Cameroon. This amount should provide them food for two months.
Rights to privacy
The Church’s long-standing policy is that pastors should not share prayer requests about any member’s health situation unless the member who is ill gives specific permission and makes such a request. Federal law (HIPAA) also prohibits this for a number of people in various professions. We urge all members to be mindful of that guideline as well. Even though we are well-meaning, we should respect people’s right to privacy and their right to be the first to disclose their personal health information at the time and in the manner of their choosing. This is especially applicable during this time of uncertainty with COVID-19. If there is a situation where some confusion or uncertainty exists on the part of the member and/or pastor, the pastor is encouraged to contact Ministerial Services for advice.