March 18, 2020

North American Division Leaders Announce Transition to Virtual Office

North American Division News

Because of the rapidly-changing situation with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the administration of the North American Division (NAD) has elected to transition its corporate office in Columbia, Maryland, United States, to a virtual operation. Starting at the end of business on March 17, 2020, and moving forward until March 30, 2020, all employees will be required to work from home, and all efforts are being made to ensure that day-to-day operations will continue without interruption. NAD administration will evaluate the situation on March 27, 2020, to decide if virtual operations need to be extended.

“We are confident God will be with His people during this time,” Daniel R. Jackson, NAD president, said to employees during the March 16 staff meeting announcing the transition to a virtual office.

Earlier, the administration announced the cancellation or postponement of all NAD-sponsored meetings and events, as well as travel for all NAD staff through June 24, 2020.

NAD leadership is urging all union and conference leaders in the division to carefully consider advisements given by their state and local governments regarding the safety of their communities.

Everyone plays an important role in helping to contain the spread of COVID-19, NAD leaders emphasize. “As Christians, we are called to treat all our neighbors with love and compassion. We must give prayerful thought to how we can be a compassionate blessing to those most impacted by this situation. ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Execute true justice, show mercy and compassion everyone to his brother”’” (Zech. 7:9, NKJV).

Administration Provides Guidance for Local Churches

The leadership of the North American Division of the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church (NAD), in consultation with the leaders of the nine union conferences in the NAD, is providing some guidance for the churches and schools in our territories regarding the impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

“As Christians, we have a responsibility to care for each other and ourselves. With the World Health Organization now declaring COVID-19 to be a pandemic, we should be seen as part of the solution rather than potentially becoming part of the problem,” leaders say.

In seeking to limit the potential impact of COVID-19, the NAD administration has voted that all staff should cease all travels immediately. The administration has prohibited work-related travel until June 24, 2020.

In addition, the NAD administration has voted to cancel NAD-sponsored events and meetings scheduled to take place before June 24. The NAD Human Resource Services Conference and Union and Local Secretaries Council, scheduled for April 26-28, has been canceled. The CALLED Pastors’ Family Convention, scheduled for June 20-24, 2020, has been rescheduled for the summer of 2022. Cancellation notices for several NAD events have already been issued, including the Pathfinder Bible Experience and Sonscreen Film Festival.

In support of our unions and local conferences, NAD leaders are asking Adventist churches and schools to follow guidelines being established by their local and state governments regarding public meetings and size limits on gatherings. Many state governments are limiting the size of gatherings to 250 people or fewer. Some areas are even reducing that number to 100 people.

In light of these restrictions, and to maintain a healthy environment for local communities, NAD leaders are supporting unions and local conferences in suggesting that churches and schools strongly reconsider the need to meet over the next two weeks. If churches have livestreaming capabilities, those options should be utilized to provide virtual church services for their members.

The goal of these temporary changes is to provide a buffer of protection to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. Care should always be taken to follow the simple health-care guidelines provided by the CDC* and medical experts. These include:

  • Careful washing of your hands with soap and water, and using sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol when washing hands is not possible.
  • Covering your mouth and nose while coughing and sneezing. If you don't have tissue paper available, then utilize your arm or sleeve to cover your mouth and nose.
  • Maintaining a safe distance from others and avoiding shaking hands, giving hugs, etc.
  • Sanitizing your living and work areas daily.
  • Staying at home if you are sick.
  • Seeking medical treatment if you have any of the symptoms associated with COVID-19.

Even in these uncertain times, NAD leaders urge all members to stay connected with family, friends, and church members through phone calls, texts, e-mails, social media, etc. They encourage members to support one another through these avenues of communication—and prayer, and urge them to also continue to support the mission of the church.

“Some of our members may consider these guidelines extreme,” leaders say, “but we take cautious guidance from Ellen G. White: ‘God will not work a miracle to keep those from sickness who have no care for themselves, but are continually violating the laws of health and make no efforts to prevent disease. When we do all we can on our part to have health, then may we expect that the blessed results will follow, and we can ask God in faith to bless our efforts for the preservation of health’” (Counsels on Health, p. 59).

*Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The original version of this story was posted on the North American Division news site.