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Health crisis risk management

Health Crisis graphic
Study reveals church health during pandemic
Ashlee Hand receives a COVID-19 vaccination from EMT Archie Coble during a clinic at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Charlotte, N.C. ~ UM News photo/Mike DuBose

CDC Logo

The Federal Centers for Disease Control CDC website CDC.gov

Johns Hopkins real time worldwide tracking of  COVID-19 dashboard

Federal Response on COVID-19 Coronavirus.gov

Michigan Department of Heath & Human Services website

Need another resource?  Looking for advice? Please contact Michigan Communications

A message from Bishop David Bard

From the earliest days of the Church, healing and caring for the sick and suffering have been an important dimension of the Christian way. “They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them” (Mark 6:13). “Are any among you suffering? They should pray…. Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord” (James 5:13-14). The Christian Church often established institutions of health and healing as it also shared the good news of God’s love in Jesus Christ.  Please use these resources to protect your community, your family, and yourself. 

Pandemic Planning Resources

Nonprofit Organizations and Houses of Worship
CDC Considerations for Communities of Faith

State of Michigan Recommendations 






LAST UPDATED: July 6, 2023

Recommendations from the CDC continue to evolve as the case counts change due to variants.  Local churches need to regularly check COVID infection rates in their communities. These levels change regularly due to the emergence of new variants.  For those in high transmission areas, indoors mask recommendations are now based on local levels of infection. High-level infection communities are encouraged to continue stringent safety practices.  Strongly encourage congregations to become fully vaccinated, when levels are high wear masks indoors, space congregant groups at least 6 feet apart, provide good room ventilation, and provide online services and discipleship building for those unable to attend.  We need to do all possible to protect those around us.


January 6, 2022

Dear Friends in Christ in The United Methodist Churches of Michigan,

I greet you in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the peace and power of the Holy Spirit. May the light of Christ, which we celebrate in the epiphany season, surround you.

One year ago, I sent a pastoral letter with the following: “Recent news about the coronavirus continues to encourage caution. Cases of COVID remain high across our nation and state, as do hospitalization rates. We continue to set daily records for new infections across the country.”  Sadly, I can write the same today. With the omicron variant spreading rapidly, positive test rates are extraordinarily high, as are daily cases. Thankfully, it appears that this variant is less virulent, particularly for those who have been vaccinated and received vaccine boosters.

If you are not vaccinated, I encourage you to get vaccinated. Get vaccine boosters when appropriate. It remains the most important thing you can do to care for yourself and others. The unvaccinated remain those most likely to be hospitalized and suffer severe illness, even with the omicron variant. Get vaccinated and encourage your fellow church members and family members to get vaccinated.

Given rising cases across the state and nation, it makes sense that our churches would strongly encourage and even require masking by everyone when meeting in person and indoors. After vaccinations, masks are the next best tool we have for slowing the spread of the coronavirus, and slowing the spread also prevents the virus from developing into additional new variants. Wear a mask, a high-quality mask that will offer protection. Together, masking and vaccinations will help us turn the tide against COVID.

While we experience the omicron surge, church leaders should consider moving worship, discipleship groups, and other meetings online for the coming weeks. You know the unique circumstances of your community and are in the best position to make decisions about gathering, whether in-person or online. Moving to virtual worship and meeting is one strategy to consider in navigating this current surge seriously.

In response to this omicron surge, The Michigan Conference has delayed opening its offices for outside groups and encouraged our committees to continue to meet virtually, both through the end of March. Our Appointive Cabinet moved its January appointment retreat online.

In a recent essay, directed mainly toward faith leaders, Christian historian and author, Diana Butler Bass wrote: “The next few weeks will be Diana Butler Basshard. Do not panic. Do not give up. Instead, be prepared. Exercise leadership that models truthfulness, care, and healing. Remember to pray, take small breaks as needed, cry often. But do not surrender. Please keep doing what is right. You aren’t broken; you’re just worn down, sad, and tired. Even in the midst of it all, there’s still love, a healing God, good people, and a beautiful purpose for your life and theirs. You are being called to be your best self as a leader, friend, and neighbor. Tell the truth with intelligence, assurance, integrity, and insistent resolve. Act with compassion and courage. That’s our path to real hope.”

Friends, I continue to believe that by God’s grace, we can muster the resilience, kindness, and determination to do what needs to be done to navigate this pandemic. As followers of Jesus, we can and should lead in promoting public health, furthering the common good, and caring for the well-being of others. When we act out of love for neighbor and care for our community, we offer a powerful witness to the grace of God in Jesus Christ. We allow the light of epiphany to shine more brightly in our world.

Grace and Peace,

David Alan Bard
Michigan Area Bishop



What you can do right now

Health crisis risk management COVID  PERSONAL RESPONSE

  • Pray for all those affected by COVID-19, including the health professionals working to contain the virus and treat to those impacted.
  • If your health allows, agree to receive a vaccine and any boosters that are necessary.
  • When in public, stay at least 6 feet from others, indoor or outside.
  • Wear a mask to prevent infection of others, particularly indoors.
  • Provide and consider attending virtual worship services.
  • If you or a family member is sick, may have been directly exposed to the virus, please follow the CDC guidelines and refrain from attending church services during the 14-day incubation period and instead worship with us online.
  • Mail a check in, or electronically share your weekly gifts with your church.
  • Soap breaks down the virus.Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use a tissue or your sleeve to cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. 
  • Avoid touching your mouth, nose or eyes with unwashed hands. 
  • If you have COVID-19 symptoms, such as fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, contact your health care provider in advance to tell them about your symptoms before arriving at a doctor’s office or hospital.  Inform your church.

How we can continue to be the church during COVID-19

  • Access the many resources on the Michigan Conference Website to support ministry during this time and move to implement these new tools.
  • Pre-tape or conduct live worship services using ZOOM, YouTube, or Facebook Live. This allows worship leaders be in their own homes but still appearing together. 
  • If your church is not able to offer online services at this time, share  online worship services at nearby UMCs.  See the list.
  • Conduct Bible studies and congregational care via telephone or ZOOM technology.
  • Continue to participate in generosity and stewardship of your local church. If your church does not have online giving, contact the office of the conference treasurer.
  • Watch the many Webinars offered on the conference website and Facebook. See the toolbox at left.
  • Organize a local church response team to monitor, plan, communicate, manage finances, and increase church hygiene.
  • Visit our Health Crisis Toolbox (see icon at top of page) and prepare your church.
  • Discuss how you can minister to and safely check on the well-being of impacted members.  Use telephone or other electronic means. Discuss how you might safely support those needing to shelter in place with food and other necessities.
  • Where you can get immediate information about COVID-19

Last Updated on January 30, 2024

The Michigan Conference