March 19, 2020

Letter from President Gerry Keener

Written by  Gerry Keener

We are living in the midst of an uncertain time. Likely, you have been following the developments of the COVID-19 outbreak around the world. EMM staff and I have been closely monitoring the situation and praying for all who are being affected by the disease. Our Leadership Team has also taken a number of steps to ensure the well-being of our global workers and domestic staff.

Most importantly, we have taken a posture of prayer, believing firmly that God is with us in the midst. Yesterday, I shared this passage from the Gospel of John with our global workers:

“Hear the words of our Lord to his disciples when they were in the midst of a storm, frightened and wondering where he was: ‘It is I,’ he said. ‘Don't be afraid.’” (John 6:20)

While it’s easier said than done, we are encouraging each other and you to continue to hold onto those words: “Do not be afraid.” We do not know what the future may hold, but we know that Jesus is standing beside us sharing those same words today.

EMM has workers serving in 30 countries around the world. Each location has its own complexities when it comes to prescribing a uniform organizational strategy. As of today, we are encouraging each worker to prayerfully consider whether or not they will leave their current location of service to relocate home. Workers are being advised to consult with their strategic coach, regional representative, or Missionary Support Team leader.

It is important to emphasize that no worker is known to have contracted the disease. Nonetheless, we are encouraging workers to take necessary precautions and to practice the utmost caution should they choose to travel. We are requesting that all workers who return to the U.S. take a 14-day self-quarantine following the CDC’s standards.

EMM’s Executive Council has appointed a three-person COVID-19 task force to monitor the situation daily, providing information, recommendations, and additional plans as needed. This task force has been working with EMM leadership to provide timely communication to global workers, domestic staff, and other interested persons.

Salunga, Pa., Central Administrative Office staff members have been preparing for the continuity of operations in response to state and federal recommendations to practice social distancing. Effective today, staff will continue providing essential services for global workers through a combination of teleworking and minimal onsite presence. The Salunga office will be functioning with this arrangement through March 31, during which time the office will be closed to the public. Staff will be able to respond to emails and will be regularly checking their voice mailboxes should you call the office at 717 898-2251.

Finally, I encourage you to join me in prayer. As you think about our workers and staff, please take a few moments to intercede on their behalf. Likewise, I welcome your prayers specifically for me and EMM leadership as we continue to make our staff and workers’ well-being our utmost priority. If there are ways in which the EMM staff and I can be praying for you, please let us know. We are grateful for each and every person who continues to support the work of EMM.

In Christ's peace,
Gerry Keener
Eastern Mennonite Missions

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