Alabama Baptist leaders issue coronavirus statement, caution against international travel

Alabama Baptist leaders issue coronavirus statement, caution against international travel

By Margaret Colson
The Alabama Baptist

What does the coronavirus, also referred to as COVID-19, mean for Alabama Baptists — particularly those who may be scheduled soon to go on international missions trips?

On March 5 the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions (SBOM) issued an official statement related to COVID-19.

The statement read:

“Due to the ongoing concern about the coronavirus, the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions recommends that Alabama Baptists follow the guidance of the International Mission Board (IMB) as they consider mission opportunities.

“Based upon the current situation, the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions has determined that the better part of wisdom is not to endorse any international mission trips by students and others, until further notice.

“The focus of the student summer missions will be upon the partnership projects we have in North America (the United States and Canada). An intentional focus will be on serving in Alabama and the rest of the southern part of the United States.”

Scotty Goldman, director of SBOM’s global missions office, explained that the IMB recently convened a coronavirus task force. The purpose of the task force is “to specifically address the implications (of COVID-19) for its personnel and partners, including church volunteer missions teams. The task force aims to provide consistent information to all IMB field personnel and stateside staff regarding medical advice and travel directives,” according to an IMB press release. The task force has launched a web page at

The IMB task force “recommends that personnel and church partners monitor guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and follow the latest recommendations regarding travel and virus prevention. IMB suggests churches frequently monitor travel advisories in order to make wise and prayerful decisions about mission trips planned in the near future,” according to the IMB press release.

Goldman recommends that Alabama Baptists exercise fervent care to avoid the spread of the virus.

“It is important to remember the virus spreads where there are a lot of people,” Goldman said. “If you choose to travel, be extra cautious in planes, airports and other public places. Be diligent with handwashing and using alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Wipe down seats, armrests, trays and other areas on planes and public transportation with bleach-based wipes, even in the U.S.”

The IMB also endorsed “general prevention measures,” which include:

  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds.
  • Use hand sanitizer if soap is not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid people who may look sick. If possible, avoid person-to-person contact and keep a one meter distance from those who are ill.

Though churches with missions trips planned will have to make the best decision for their groups, Goldman said the SBOM is not currently endorsing travel outside the U.S. and Canada.

“We will monitor the information given by IMB and base decisions about future travel on their study and feedback from our field partners,” Goldman said.