Texas Baptists leaders and ministry teams are taking precautionary measures to address the potential spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19). The Texas Baptists Missions Team and Go Now Missions recently provided updates to students and churches engaging in upcoming mission trips in Texas and abroad regarding the coronavirus.
Vision trips and mission experiences
On Monday, March 2, Mission Team leaders provided updates via email to church leaders with plans to participate in vision trips with the Missions Team and upcoming BOUNCE mission experiences.
“Missions Team/BOUNCE will continue to monitor the coronavirus issue. We are following the U.S. State Department posts and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as having regular updates from field personnel in international and domestic locations,” said Tom Howe, associate director of Missions.
“If, at any time, it is deemed unsafe to send a team to a particular location, we will work with your team to find another suitable USA or foreign location,” Howe said. “As a precaution, please wait to buy flights until contacting your Missions Team director for more information, and make sure to purchase flight insurance for all flights.”
Howe continued by saying that all indications at the present time are that it is still early to begin to pull teams from any upcoming domestic mission trips due to the coronavirus.
Go Now Missions and Spring Break ministry
Go Now Missions Director Brenda Sanders has been in communication with recently-appointed summer missionaries regarding the coronavirus. An update was provided to all students with their packet of information for summer mission trips.
Sanders is in contact with field personnel for international locations and is receiving frequent updates. Go Now trips to East Asia have been canceled for the summer. Sanders noted that international flights for summer trips have not been purchased yet.
Approximately 900 BSM students will serve through Beach Reach in South Padre Island from March 7-19. BOUNCE Student Disaster Recovery has two student trips planned from March 11-18 Spring Break in Waco. Summer BOUNCE mission opportunities are planned for Waco, Houston, Muskogee, OK; Seattle, WA; and Ponce, Puerto Rico.
Convention staff and upcoming events
Convention staff members are urged to follow the Center for Disease Control guidelines to maintain a healthy work environment. In an email to all Texas Baptist staff on Feb. 27, Human Resources Director Rollie Richmond said that it is not a time to panic, but a time to prepare. He provided information about the virus, precautions to be implemented by staff, and an overview of benefits available to staff including Teladoc, Paid Time Off, and a short-term disability benefit. This information and additional resources are posted to the organization’s internal website for staff.
Convention leaders are also considering plans for remote work, technology training for remote work, and review of all travel, events, and meetings planned to ensure attendees and convention staff take appropriate precautions. Additional information about upcoming events and other impacts of the virus are expected to be made available in the coming days.
A COVID-19 Response page has been published online at txb.org/covid19. This page will be used to share virus-related information with churches and ministry partners. Updates will be published to this page as information becomes available.