(RNS) — The nation’s top doctor urged faith leaders to follow federal guidelines and partner with local health officials as they learn new ways to lead congregants coping with the coronavirus pandemic.

“What can you do as faith and community leaders?” asked U.S. Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams in a videotaped address for the COVID-19 Church Online Summit that opened Thursday (March 26). “Well, first, follow the guidance from your local health department and find ways to partner with them. Second, develop your plan to protect your employees and the people you serve.”

Evangelical and humanitarian assistance leaders offered pointers and encouragement to church leaders in the first day of a two-day summit by releasing videos on topics ranging from advocacy for the vulnerable to

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