Thursday, April 30, 2009

Brethren staff ready a denominational response in the event of a flu pandemic.

Church of the Brethren staff are readying a denominational response in the event of a flu pandemic in the United States and Puerto Rico. The denominational staff have been alert to the eventuality of a flu pandemic since initial warnings about avian flu were issued several years ago.

Brethren Disaster Ministries is monitoring the progress of the current flu outbreak and is forwarding information pertinent to Brethren congregations and members (see resources listed below).

The staff of Brethren Disaster Ministries have kept up-to-date on information from health organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and information shared through ecumenical partners such as Church World Service. CWS staff continue to monitor the spread of the flu as well, and CWS Emergency Response personnel are engaged in regular briefings by the CDC in the event the disaster response community needs to become further involved.

The Church of the Brethren’s communications staff already have crisis communications plans in the event of a pandemic, and staff will provide information about the flu outbreak through Newsline, e-mail communications to congregations and districts, and online tools at on a page dedicated to flu resources.

An online form at (go to ) has been created to facilitate communication across the denomination in the event that churches must cancel worship services or gatherings. Leaders of congregations and districts will be invited to use the survey form to post news from their churches, to share requests for prayer, and to offer other information to the denomination during a flu crisis.

The Caring Ministries staff is offering a resource to aid pastors and deacons in dealing with anxiety and fears among congregations about the flu outbreak (see article below). This resource will be available at as well, and will be e-mailed to those on the Caring Ministries list serves.

In addition, a document giving suggestions for how Church of the Brethren congregations may continue to carry out ministry during a flu pandemic is being prepared for use by congregational and district leaders. The document will be distributed within the next day or two to congregations and district offices by e-mail, and will be posted at

For more information about the denominational response in the event of a flu pandemic, contact Roy Winter, Executive Director of Brethren Disaster Ministries, at or 800-451-4407; or Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, Director of News Services, at or 800-323-8039 ext. 260.

Source: 4/30/2009 Newsline Extra
Flu resources are recommended by Brethren Disaster Ministries.

Brethren Disaster Ministries is recommending the following resources to Church of the Brethren congregations during the current flu outbreak. These resources may help congregations and church members better understand the outbreak, maintain good health and prevent the flu from spreading, and learn about ways churches may respond.

The following recommended resources come from a variety of sources including the federal government’s Pandemic Flu website, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Church World Service (CWS), and Lutheran Disaster Relief. This list of resources also is provided online at

Recommended Resources:

General Information about Pandemic Flu:

General Swine Flu Information:

A Planning Guide for Churches:

The Role of Churches in a Pandemic Response:

Swine Flu Key Facts:

Swine Flu and You:

Swine Flu Video Podcast: (In this video, Dr. Joe Bresee of the CDC Influenza Division describes swine flu--its signs and symptoms, how it's transmitted, medicines to treat it, steps people can take to protect themselves from it, and what people should do if they become ill.)

All You Have to Do Is Wash Your Hands Podcast: (This podcast teaches children how and when to wash their hands properly.)

The Flu: A Guide for Parents: (A downloadable resource offering questions and answers about the flu, how to protect your child, treatment, and more.)

Protecting Against the Flu: Advice for Caregivers of Children Less Than 6 Months Old:

Stopping Germs at Home, Work, and School:

Ounce of Prevention Campaign for Parents and Children:

BAM! Body and Mind: Teacher's Corner: (In this activity, students conduct an experiment on washing their hands. They will learn that "clean" hands may not be so clean after all, and the critical importance of washing their hands as a way to prevent the spread of disease.)

Cough Etiquette in Health Care Settings:

Scrub Club: (Children learn about health and hygiene and become members of the Scrub Club(tm). The site features an animated Webisode with seven "soaper-heros" who battle germs and bacteria. Children learn the six key steps to proper handwashing, a handwashing song, and interactive games. Also included are other children’s activities and educational materials.)

Source: 4/30/2009 Newsline Extra
Facing the Unknown--Coping with Our Emotions.

The following resource has been prepared by the Caring Ministries of the Church of the Brethren:

Facing new and unknown situations such as the current H1N1 (Swine Flu) virus outbreak can cause us to experience apprehension, anxiety, and fear. These are natural psychological responses to the unknown, and it is expected that we might feel anxious and distressed about this new and spreading disease. However, there are some things we can do to help us cope during stressful situations such as this.

Coping with stress and anxiety:

Lisa Wyatt, director of Counseling and Psychological Services at Sonoma State University, offers these tips for coping with stress and anxiety (
  • Limit your exposure to news stories which can include incorrect or outdated information.

  • Get accurate, timely information from reliable sources.

  • Educate yourself about the specific health hazards associated with swine flu.

  • Maintain your normal daily routine to the extent possible.

  • Exercise, eat well, and rest.

  • Stay active physically and mentally.

  • Stay in touch with family and friends.

  • Find comfort in your spiritual and personal beliefs.

  • Keep a sense of humor.

  • Find healthy ways to express your feelings.
Becoming informed:

Knowing the facts and taking appropriate precautions can help us be prepared and not panic. The following websites provide accurate information about the H1N1 virus and disease, and how to prevent its spread.

The website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at offers information about the H1N1 flu and what we can do to stay healthy.

Knowing how to care for someone with the H1N1 flu can help decrease anxiety and increase effectiveness as a caregiver. This article at provides practical suggestions for caring for people with the flu and preventing the spread of the illness in the home.

An interview with Dr. Joseph Bocchini, chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics' committee of infectious diseases, discusses how grandparents and parents should prepare for the possible threat of swine flu in their families. Go to and click on the "Expert Advice" tab, then "Health," to access the article, "Swine Flu: What Grandparents Need to Know."

Staying connected:

During times of anxiety and stress, it helps to remain connected with family, friends, and our faith community. This can be difficult due not only to geographical distance, but also because people may distance themselves from others to lessen the chance of exposure to the virus. However, we can stay connected by phone, mail, e-mail, and texting, if we cannot be together in person.

It is important to share feelings, fears, and concerns while offering a listening ear and support to those around us. Now is a great time to reach out and connect with family members, old and new friends, church members, and others who might be feeling anxious, alone, and isolated. Watching out for each other is an expression of Christ’s compassion and care. Together we can help support each other during this difficult time.

Source: 4/30/2009 Newsline Extra

Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren, or 800-323-8039 ext. 260. Kim Ebersole, Kathy Reid, Becky Ullom, and Roy Winter contributed to this report.