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Letter of Announcement from the Philippine Leadership Council of ICOC Philippines

Love is patient, love is kind. ... It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13: 4, 7-8

17 May 2020

To the Philippine Family of Churches Dear brothers and sisters of the Philippine Family of Churches. We hope that you are doing well spiritually and physically during this time of pandemic. For many weeks now, most of us have been staying in our homes to protect ourselves and our loved ones from the virus which has spread throughout our country and all over the world. We have obeyed government directives to stay at home and follow rules on physical distancing in the exceptional cases where heads of families are allowed to perform essential activities. This means that we could not meet together as a church or even in small groups in person. Thus, we have only conducted our church activities online.

Recently, the government has announced stage by stage relaxation of quarantine measures in different parts of the country. It is possible that the government will eventually allow more movement and gatherings. Therefore, some of us may be asking whether this means we can now have in person church meetings, have small group activities together or have one on one appointments.

We understand that all of us miss each other and can’t wait for the time we can worship and fellowship in person again. However, our primary consideration as a church is the spiritual and physical health of our members. After looking at the data and consulting with experts and frontliners, the Philippine Leadership Council (PLC) has determined that it would be best for all of us to maintain our online activities for now, until August 31, 2020. To be clear, all the members of the Philippine Family of Churches will not meet in person even in small groups until August 31, 2020. This decision was arrived at because of the following facts:

1. As the government admits, the relaxation of the quarantine is not because it is already safe but in order to protect the country’s economy;

2. Considering that majority of those infected by the virus do not show symptoms (“asymptomatic”) and the fact that less 2% of the country’s population has been tested, it is possible that a vast number of people are infected without even knowing it; and

3. The official data indicating the total number of people infected per city may not indicate the actual number of infected as asymptomatic individuals are generally not tested and there is a backlog of test results.

Because of the risk caused by this uncertainty, the PLC considers it prudent to continue with limiting all church activities (e.g. church services, devotionals, bible talks, discipling times, dates etc.) to online means only. This applies even to those churches without any government restrictions. However, we envision that in due time the churches will on a stage by stage basis revert to normal status. In view of this, the PLC will issue guidelines on these different stages.

This cautious approach is supported by the experience of other countries. We have already seen a resurgence of the infection in other countries which have relaxed restrictions. We note further that a number of corporations in the Philippines have chosen to retain their work from home policy at least until August 31 as well.

We pray that the pandemic will end soon so we can once again meet outside of our homes. But because we love each other, we want to make sure that we protect each other.

We hope you understand why we need to do this. If you have further questions or concerns, please contact your sector leaders or church leaders.

For His Cause,

The Philippine Leadership Council The Elders, Teachers and Evangelists of the Philippine Family of Churches

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