When will Michigan return to normal operation? That remains uncertain. But the Bishop and leaders of The Michigan Conference are creating strategies to help churches prepare to resume in-person activities.
April 21, 2020 | LANSING, Michigan — Michigan has the third-highest death-count of COVID-19 in the United States. As the state continues to struggle to control infections and deaths from the virus, Bishop Bard and conference leaders are in discussion on how to re-open local churches once State Health Officials signal it is safe to do so.
The Michigan Conference has followed the Executive Order from Governor Gretchen Whitmer, based on the advice of state, and federal health experts. Congregations are encouraged not to worship in person until at least April 30th. It is unclear if the Governor’s order will be extended or if a phased state re-opening might begin on May 1st.
According to health experts, the challenge of opening local churches is that they serve large numbers of highly vulnerable populations. Re-opening too early risks reigniting COVID-19 infections and returning the state back to where it was weeks ago.
While health officials ponder the best way to return the state to some form of normal operation, Michigan Conference leaders are discussing protocols that would prepare local churches to return to in-person worship in a manner that would minimize risk. These guidelines are expected to include recommendations on safe-distancing, good hygiene, and other ways of protecting those in worship.
Conference leaders continue efforts to provide ongoing strategies for keeping churches vital while a vaccine and effective treatments are developed. Bishop Bard is still encouraging local churches to create effective ways of worshiping online and maintaining ministries through online giving. He also emphasizes the importance of engaging and supporting members of local churches who are without internet technology.
Timelines for opening the state are uncertain. Vital congregations are those that invest in long-term strategies for active involvement with their communities.