Ways to Be the Church in the Time of COVID-19
Visit resourceumc.org to view a collection of resources from General Agencies of the UMC. Topics include congregational care, technology, giving and more.
On this webpage, you'll find resources related to:
- Liturgical Seasons and Church Holidays
- Worship and discipleship, including digital church resources
- NextGen Ministries
- Talking with Children About Illness
- Pastoral Care
- Mission and Service
HOLY WEEK AND EASTER IDEAS
Adapted from the National Council of Churches
- Put a branch on your door or window to celebrate Palm Sunday.
- Share in a home foot-washing with those with whom it is safe for you to gather with on Holy Thursday to replicate Jesus asking his disciples to serve each other.
- Share in prayers at home on Good Friday and blow out a candle to symbolize the crucifixion.
- Hang white Christmas lights (or other lights or electric candles) on Holy Saturday and turn them on.
- Participated in "Egging" neighbors. Learn more at Happy Home Fairy.
- Write in chalk on your driveway or sidewalk the words, “Christ is risen!”
- Ring your church bells at noon on Easter Day.
- View an additional online service of a church of another racial or ethnic background and offer your prayers for that community.
Tips for Ash Wednesday during COVID-19 via Discipleship Ministries
(More than) 10 ways to appreciate your pastor via UMC.org
Digital Church Resources
- Digital Church as a New Site: How local churches are making move online more than temporary
- Pre-Recorded Sermons available for free download. Use them to give your pastor a Sunday off!
- The Hybrid Church: Merging Physical and Digital (Webinar recording)
- Digital Church: Reaching An Online Mission Field (Free training)
- Usage Rights: Copyright Concerns for the Digital Church (Webinar recording)
- The Church & COVID-19 Ministry Webinar: How to Welcome and Connect with Church Guests Online
- If you do livestream worship, keep in mind copyright concerns related to music and liturgy (yes, liturgy can be copywritten). Hacking Christianity offered a blog post about the technical and legal aspects of live streaming worship.
- Consider which Bible and devotional apps might allow a study option with comments from participants. This might be a better option in areas where the Internet is limited.
- Share worship playlists on Spotify or YouTube and invite people into new spiritual disciplines they can do at home (e.g. examen, lectio divina, visio divina, scripture memorizing, centering prayer).
- Consider offering teaching around solitude as spiritual practice.
- Confessional Small Groups in the Style of the Wesleyan Band Meeting (PDF download)
Questions to Consider
- How might you collaborate with other UMCs and denominations in your community for shared live streamed worship?
- What might car drive-in worship look like?
- Keep open portions of the open church for private prayer rather than communal worship through the week.
- If your church is on the radio or TV, how do you share those venues for people home-bound? Do you consider buying advertising to promote your TV or radio broadcast?
- Avoid using language that blames others for the illness.
- Remain calm. Your child will learn how to respond by watching your reactions.
- Provide honest and accurate information to your child. Give fact-based information that is age or developmentally appropriate. Don’t make promises you can’t keep (i.e., you won’t get the virus or Grandma won’t get sick). See this link Talking with your child about an outbreak to learn age-appropriate talking points.
- For age-appropriate thoughts on talking to children about COVID-19.
- Limit your child’s viewing of online, social media and TV to reduce the amount of exposure to the news about the virus. After viewing, give your child the opportunity to discuss what they heard and to share feelings. Clarify any misinformation and validate any feelings. Identify possible coping skills to help reduce any anxiety.
- Maintain routines as much as possible. If routines will be different, communicate the plan with your child. Keep plans day to day without being too forward thinking at this time.
- Teach children everyday actions to reduce spreading germs.
- What is the role of prayer in illness?
- Why would God let this happen?
- Look for the helpers! How can you (we) be a helper today?
- Is the Church stocked with cards for snail mail contact to home-bound and assisted living residents?
- Do you have phone numbers for home-bound and assisted living residents?
- Is there a resident or healthcare worker at an assisted living or nursing home that may be willing to serve in a chaplain capacity and host worship services in the event the facility is closed to the public?
- Can you provide large-print devotional resources to nursing homes?
- How many ways are you providing for worshippers to give? Consider e-giving and text-to-give options and pushing enrollment in electronic funds transfer (EFT). Most banks offer online bill pay. Through that tool, the bank actually prepares and sends a check on your behalf. Sometimes, this does result in a delay because of the processing time and mail, but it’s still a great way to ensure continued giving from home. If members utilize online bill pay, they can simply be instructed to let a designated staff person or volunteer accustomed to handling the giving know they’ve sent a payment via online bill pay and that it might take a few days to arrive.
- Consider a 24-hour goal to fund a specific need (e.g., stock the food pantry, provide bagged breakfast and lunch for school-age children in the event school is closed).
- Vanco Online Giving Solutions. For any UMC church that enrolls with Vanco, the monthly fee for the Start Plan will be waived for a full year and for those that enroll with the Sustain Plan, the monthly fee would be waived for the first 3 months.
- Online Giving Guide from GCFA
- Non-Traditional Giving Toolkit from GCFA
MISSION AND SERVICE
Our first General Rule as United Methodists is to “do no harm.” This extends to our mission relationships. We want to “do no harm” with our volunteer activity or with the people we serve. Our goal as United Methodist Volunteers in Mission is to minimize possible COVID-19 infections spread by United Methodist activity. See guidelines to help your local church serve safely in the weeks and months to come. Questions or concerns? Contact Lucas Endicott at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- With travel to and from the United States restricted, and travel around the country not recommended, how can we still support the vital work being done by our partners at mission sites where we serve? Here are some ways to stay engaged while staying home.
- Ask members to start making and freezing soup to deliver to neighbors should they be quarantined.
- There may be neighbors including students and adult workers who need access to free Wi-Fi. How might your church create Wi-Fi hotspots in your parking lot (for people to work in their cars) or in other spaces in the building with limited exposure to others?
- We know marginalized communities like low-income and homeless populations have been impacted greatly. How might your church provide care and service to low-income seniors, refugee and immigrant communities, and the homeless population during this time?
- Identify food pantry needs and plan a blitz collection drive. Bags of food, paper products or cleaning supplies could be dropped off at the doors of those that may be ill.
HOW MISSOURI CHURCHES HAVE RESPONDED
During the COVID-19 crisis, Missouri United Methodist churches have gone above and beyond to serve their communities. Here are just a few examples that we have highlighted in our news coverage:
- Zion and New Covenant UMCs (St. Louis): Churches Support Community with Nutrition, March 1, 2021
- Hermann UMC: Vaccinated at Church, January 27, 2021
- Manchester UMC (St. Louis): Communion Circles Offer Safe Way to Receive Holy Communion, October 1, 2020
- St. James UMC (St. James): Baptism During Distancing, September 28, 2020
- Kirkwood UMC: Being Fed to Feed Others, September 28, 2020
- Salem UMC (St. Louis): Providing Meals Through the Pandemic, September 28, 2020
- Elsberry UMC: Church Helps Students During Shutdown, September 18, 2020
- The River at Eureka: Ice Cream Social - Socially Distanced, September 18, 2020
- Eminence UMC: Zooming to Church, April 21, 2020
- Excelsior Springs: Sharing Space, April 6, 2020
- Morning Star UMC (O'Fallon): Recovery in Isolation, March 27, 2020
- Wilkes Boulevard UMC (Columbia): When You Can't Stay at Home, March 27, 2020
- First UMC and Grace Community UMC (Buffalo): Helping Out at Home, March 24, 2020