Visit our Coronavirus page for ongoing updates, FAQs, and resources to help your congregation respond.
Updated on March 11, 2020, at 10:44 am.
Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you will be in good health, just as it is well with your soul. – III John 1:2
Thank you for your vigilant pastoral leadership as we receive public updates on the Coronavirus. In the midst of anxiety and fear, we are called to be a living embodiment of faith, hope, and love.
We Methodists have a long history of engagement in public health. John Wesley himself studied medical science so that he and the Methodists might offer health care to the poor. In this time of threat to many, we extend the compassion and assurance of Christ, our Great Physician and Healer.
Let us all share in the leadership of our churches and communities in these ways:
Praying for those in the public health and medical communities, those suffering from the disease or grieving the loss of life, and for those most threatened by the virus. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) classifies high-risk individuals as: “over 65 years of age or with underlying health conditions including heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, or weakened immune systems.”
Encourage all to stay at home if they do not feel well, and meet virtually or by telephone when possible. Keep in mind that person to person contact remains most important, even if that now happens in smaller groups, virtually or over the phone. Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype, FaceTime, and conference calls are resources you can use for virtual meetings. Remember that the flu and other illnesses draw resources from those available for Coronavirus, and in every way possible be vigilant about your health and the health of those around you.
Observe Good Hygiene Practices
Be attentive to the cleanliness of your facilities. Be sure that alcohol-based hand sanitizer is readily available throughout your facilities. For example, place hand sanitizer alongside boxes of tissues in pews and in every room. Read more about cleaning practices on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.
Encourage everyone to observe a 6 ft distance from others. Suggest a new gesture for connection and prayer: for example, extend the peace verbally with hands over the heart and pray together without holding hands.
Consider Adaptive Practices or Postponement
Consider adaptive practices or postponement of services, baptisms, and communion in the immediate circumstances of public health threat.
- Offer pre-recorded messages or stream church services online through Facebook Live or other platforms. For example, Rev. Kelly Barr offers short digital sermons on YouTube in his series called Four Minute Church. Here is more information on how to create a live stream worship service.
- Mail or email sermons or sermon notes to your congregation.
- For communion, it’s essential that we pursue holiness. In this season, let’s use the chalice and bread as a Lenten symbol of our shared life together while refraining from sharing the elements with one another.
- Use fresh water between baptisms.
- Use digital bulletins on cell phones, tablets, or projectors in worship services. Consider YouVersion Events through the Bible App.
- Establish alternate ways of giving through online tools like Stripe, PayPal, Venmo, ShelbyGiving, Vanco, Planning Center, etc.
- Listen and share podcasts on NCCUMC.fm website. Or, start your own!
Monitor Public Health Guidance
Stay alert to public health guidance, engage in public health education by including helpful information in your church communication, and offer in every way possible the comfort and assurance to all that God is with us. Here are resources for community and faith-based leaders offered by the CDC.
For more information and updates, visit the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) and Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) websites. Read the latest update from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services: March 10, 2020.
Review Emergency and Communication Plans
What plans do you have for sending out important information to your members? What community or special groups use your facility? The Lewis Center for Church Leadership offers six steps congregations should take in response to the coronavirus. The Greater Northwest Area shared a checklist produced several years ago to prepare faith communities for a flu pandemic that should still be a helpful guide.
My prayers join with yours in this time.
Loving God, we give you thanks for all who are called to the healing professions: strengthen them and protect them in this time as they guide our communities, educate our people, and attend to those who are ill. Lord Jesus Christ, we praise you as our Savior and Healer: be with all who suffer in our world, heal and restore those who are ill, and enliven your people to be instruments of your healing grace and peace. Holy Spirit, we seek your powerful presence in our world: be to us a sustainer, guide, and restorer of abundant life. These things we pray with confidence in the Triune God, who promises to always be with us. Amen.
With thanksgiving for the life we share in Christ,
Hope Morgan Ward