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
COVID-19 - CORONAVIRUS
SITUATIONS ARE CHANGING DAILY. CHECK BACK OFTEN
LAST UPDATED: Monday, June 1, 2020 4:00 PM EDT
Since March, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has issued a series of emergency orders, including the most recent Executive Order No. 2020-110, to slow the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. While the Stay At Home Order has been partially lifted, all of the precautionary measures are still recommended including social distancing, the wearing of masks, and not gathering indoors in groups larger than 10. Outdoor activities (properly distanced) are approved up to 100 persons. State health officials continue to recommend all churches refrain from in-person gatherings and using church buildings. Bishop Bard is recommending that local churches consult local and state health departments to determine when it safe to hold worship services.
The Bishop has released a document, First Sunday Back, to prepare for reopening our churches once restrictions are lifted. Visit the toolbox at left for a black and white version. He has since released a more recent document with specific guidelines for safely reopening, UMC Principles and Directions.
While this order recommends us to close our sanctuaries, we are still called to be the church every day of this crisis.
IMPACT ON LOCAL CHURCHES AND MINISTRIES
The Executive Order requires all citizens to shelter in their homes, except to engage in essential functions to preserve human life. These include:
- Suspending all in-person gatherings.
- worship services that meet in-person
- group participation of worship leaders in the same space, even to record a service
- choirs, praise bands, musicians meeting in the same space to record music
- "Drive-in" worship.
- Liturgists or other worship participants functioning in the same space.
- Church office staff located in the church building
- In person Bible studies, meetings, or gatherings
- Non-life sustaining missions or ministries
Life sustaining UMC ministries and missions may continue
Under provision 9D in the order: Workers and volunteers for businesses or operations (including both and religious and secular nonprofit organizations) that provide food, shelter, and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged or otherwise needy individuals, individuals who need assistance as a result of this emergency, and people with disabilities. This allows the continued operation of food banks and meal programs that can be operated with the safety and distancing for both volunteers and those receiving meals.
What you can do right now
- Pray for all those affected by COVID-19, including the health professionals working to contain the virus and treat to those impacted.
- Stay home. Be faithful by taking action to protect others around you.
- Wear a mask to prevent infection of others.
- If you or a family member is sick, may have been directly exposed to the virus or have traveled to a high-alert area (currently South Korea, Iran, Italy, Japan), 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.
- Maintain a distance of at least 6-10 feet from others. This is known as "social distancing"
- 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
- 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 to arrange for free online giving for 2 months.
- Register to 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