In addition to local governments and schools, the Census Bureau is leaning on churches and faith communities to spread the word about this year’s census.
Census 2020 had planned a Faith Communities Census Weekend of Action for Friday through Sunday. Due to government COVID-19 pandemic quarantine recommendations, many of these events have been canceled, including those at Cameron Baptist Church.
“We have closed to all activities on our campus,” said Cameron Baptist Senior Pastor Mike Teel last week.
The church is still reminding its members via social media to submit their census responses by April 1.
“I did my census yesterday online,” Teel said. “I got my request in the mail on Saturday, and I made sure to tell my congregants about it on Sunday (during a streaming of the regular service via Facebook Live).”
Teel said the survey was simple and took him only seven minutes to complete. He is hoping churches in Southwest Oklahoma take this year’s census seriously and encourage their members to submit responses.
“The last census, we did not do a good job, we missed a lot of people who needed to be counted,” Teel said. “This jeopardizes our representation and also restricts us from getting the funds we need.”
Even in the quarantine, Cameron Baptist wants to be a resource to those who might need help submitting their census response.
“If you don’t have access to a computer, call the office (2621 SW C) or come by and we’ll set you up quickly,” Teel said.
Members of the Jackson County Ministerial Alliance were also planning to participate in the Weekend of Action, but due to quarantine recommendations, they have also canceled all in-person activities.
There are 25 active churches in the alliance, including Martha Road Baptist Church in Altus. Senior Pastor Kevin Baker said the church is still doing what it can to let its congregants know about the census.
“We have been pushing census information out for a few weeks now to our members, letting them know it’s important to participate,” said Baker, who also serves as president of the ministerial alliance.
The alliance distributed 2,500 census pamphlets to its churches to insert in Sunday bulletins. Baker also spoke to about 200 students at a recent Awana meeting in Altus about the importance of the 2020 Census.
“And our children’s minister also talked with the kids on Sunday morning about the census,” Baker said. “They went over the Christmas story and talked about how Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem to register for the census.”
As for Census 2020 operations, it’s business as usual, according to census officials, who released the following statement, in part, on March 11:
“The U.S. Census Bureau is carefully monitoring the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation and will follow the guidance of federal, state and local health authorities. … We must fulfill our constitutional obligation to deliver the 2020 Census counts to the President of the United States on schedule, and we must adhere to our core task of counting everyone once, only once, and in the right place. … The Census Bureau will closely follow guidance from public health authorities when conducting this operation, as we do when conducting all field operations. … If we need to delay or discontinue nonresponse follow-up visits in a particular community, we will adapt our operation to ensure we get a complete and accurate count.”
To learn more, go to 2020census.gov.