Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. —Joshua 1:9

Effective Tuesday, March 17, the church office will practice “social distancing” to support statewide and national efforts to “flatten the curve” with our staff working remotely most of the week. All staff members will have access to email, and the church office phones will forward to personal phones. Simply leave a voice mail if you receive no answer, and staff members will call you back. On the occasion the staff are onsite at the church, please know the church will be secured. If there is something you need at the church during the next couple of weeks, please call the church office and we will make arrangements to assist you. Your prayers and continued financial support of the church during this time are critical. Our mission to connect people with God and one another (as different as that looks and feels right now), to grow in our faith in the face of adversity, and to love and serve our neighbors is more important than ever right now. We are in this together…and God is with us every step of the way.

The Lord is near. Don’t be anxious about anything; rather, bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks. Then the peace of God that exceeds all understanding will keep your hearts and minds safe in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4: 5b-7

Coronavirus & the Methodist Church: What to know, how to help

Discussing health in the church dates back to John Wesley, who wrote extensively about staying physically healthy, as well as spiritually healthy. Bishop Elaine Stanovsky reminds United Methodists that holding spiritual and social holiness together is a “mark of Methodist distinction.”

Additionally, she says,  “Part of our Wesleyan heritage as United Methodists is caring for one another, which means caring enough to prevent the spread of a terrible illness.”  

As our churches’ physical doors are closed, we are encouraged to be creative in how we do church, says Bishop David Bard, including using electronic media to share worship and Bible study, showing care for one another through phone calls and social media, and continuing to support congregations by giving online or by mail.

Learn more about the UMC’s response to the coronavirus here.

 

Office Staff Working Remotely Until Further Notice

First Church Lex Staff will be working remotely this week. Phone calls to the church office will be forwarded to a staff member and email will be monitored throughout the workday.

Nebraska Department Of Health and Human Services Launches COVID-19 Dashboard For Nebraska

     The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services has posted a real-time map and dashboard to keep track of COVID-19 cases by county. The dashboard keeps track of all the state information on COVID-19 cases, such as total cases in the state, persons tested positive by date of reporthow many confirmed cases by county, tested total, and tested but virus not detected. The map also breaks down information for each individual county for total tested, total tested positive, and total tested not detected.

The information updates at 12 p.m. CDT.

COVID-19 Information & Resources

NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. Now, more than ever, it’s important to remember that there is no health without mental health. During these difficult times, we encourage you to take care of yourselves and check in on loved ones. You are not alone, and we will get through this together.

—Daniel H. Gillison, Jr., NAMI’s CEO

We get it. It’s hard to sift through the messages and information coming at us. Worse, the “unknown unknown” (not knowing what you don’t even know) can cause even greater anxiety for those of us who are panic-prone.

What you can do

  1. Remember that knowledge is power. Understanding the factors that affect a person’s immune response to COVID-19 will matter as much as, or more than, understanding the virus! Poor lung health caused by smoking, lack of adequate health care, suppressed immune systems, and/or populations particularly susceptible to infectious diseases, such as the elderly, have been particularly affected by COVID-19.
  2. Don’t accept everything you read or hear. Look beyond rhetoric and arm yourself with information. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides information and frequent updates on the COVID-19’s spread, severity, risk assessment, etc. To subscribe to the CDC’s email and text message service, visit CDC Subscription Service.
  3. Get your emotional support system in place:
  • Maintain familiar routines in daily life as much as possible; take care of your basic needs and employ helpful coping strategies: rest during work or between shifts, eat healthy food and engage in physical activity.
  • Stay connected with others and maintain your social networks:

o Have the emails and phone numbers of close friends and family at your fingertips.

o Stay connected via email, social media, video conference and telephone.

  • Find a free online support group (see page 3 for a list of options).
  • Reach out to your local NAMI Affiliate or State Organization for information on support programs in your area.
  • Visit the NAMI Resource Library, which provides an extensive list of in-person and online support groups, and other mental health resources.
  • Contact the SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline (800) 985-5990 that provides 24/7, 365-day-a- year crisis counseling and support to people experiencing emotional distress related to natural or human-caused disasters.
  • Have the number of several Warmlines (emotional support hotlines) at your fingertips.
  • Call the NAMI HelpLine at 800-950-NAMI (6264) Monday through Friday, between 10:00 am and 6:00 pm EST for mental health resources.
  • National Mental Health Consumer’s Self-Help Clearinghouse is a nationwide directory to locate local consumer-driven mental health services, including resources such as Clubhouses, crisis prevention/respite services, drop-in Centers, employment resources, housing, peer case management and support. The website maintains search function for directory of local CDS (consumer- driven services).
  1. Take control and incorporate preventative measures
  • Wash your hands. See the CDC’s list of preventative measures.
  • Avoid watching, reading or listening to news reports that cause you to feel anxious or distressed. A near-constant stream of news reports can cause anyone to feel anxious or distressed. Instead, seek CDC updates and practical guidelines at specific times during the day.
  • Be supportive to others. Assisting others in their time of need can benefit the person receiving support as well as the helper.

What you can do while working from home

  • To help overcome uncertainty, normality and routine that mirrors life’s daily patterns and practices can be helpful. If working from home, we encourage you to create a structured, dedicated work environment and build in self-care as well as daily benchmarks of achievement.
  • Structure and routine may be helpful for people with mental health vulnerabilities, especially during times of uncertainty. We encourage you to maintain a regular routine with the work hours that are usually worked, including keeping up with morning rituals. Dressing in regular work attire and taking regular breaks, including lunch time, may also be helpful.
  • Research tells us that seven percent of communication is accomplished through our words, including email. 38 percent is voice and a staggering 55 percent is body language and visual. For people with mental health vulnerabilities, and even for those with extroverted personalities, the lack of face time can be challenging. Using technology to simulate this can offer a solution to bridging this gap. Be mindful of opportunities to integrate video into your conversations with colleagues. Consider using the video function on Skype or Teams for internal and external meetings.

What you can do to get support

Also, there are numerous online support communities and emotional support hotlines to help you if you are quarantined:

Building Resilience

o Visit the CDC’s page on Stigma and Resilience that discusses COVID-19’s impact on mental health, and how we can reject stigma and build resilience during this time.

o American Psychological Association offers an excellent online resource called the “Road to Resilience,” a step-by-step guide that helps individuals develop a personal strategy for enhancing resilience.

Finding Phone Support

A warmline is a confidential, non-crisis emotional support telephone hotline staffed by peer volunteers who are in recovery. Callers will find an empathetic listener to talk through their feelings. To find a warmline that serves your area, visit the NAMI HelpLine Warmline Directory on the NAMI Resource Library page.

Finding Online Support Communities

o NAMI hosts online communities where people exchange support and encouragement. These Discussion Groups can easily be joined by visiting www.nami.org.

This way, census workers won’t have to come to your door.