Responding to coronavirus

Photo from the CDC

March 23, 2020



The dashboard pictured above, built by a team at the Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering and regularly updated with data from the WHO, CDC, and other sources, illustrates how the virus is spreading. Click the image to see the number of COVID-19 cases here and across the world updated in near-real time. 

Updated March 30, 2020

Announcements

Closed: All conference/district offices and our camp and retreat centers are closed until further notice. Staff are still working and are available by phone and email. Find contact information below:

National announcements

UPDATE: On March 16, 2020 the Trump administration released new guidelines for the public to slow the spread of the coronavirus, including closing schools and avoiding groups of more than 10 people, discretionary travel, bars, restaurants and food courts. The guidelines, as of March 29, have been extended until April 30, 2020.

Red Cross makes appeal for blood donations
The Red Cross needs blood donors, as over 4,000 blood drives across the U.S. have been cancelled due to Coronavirus concerns Learn more, including how to give blood, at What to Know About Coronavirus Disease 2019 and Blood Donation Safety
How to host a blood drive 

State information 

State of Maine COVID-19 information 
Information from the Rhode Island Department of Health
State of New Hampshire COVID-19 information 
State of Vermont COVID-19 information 
Commonwealth of Massachusetts COVID-19 information 
State of Connecticut COVID-19 information 

All churches should be following the instructions issued by their state and local officials. 

The United Methodist Church

UMCOR donates needed supplies to first responders in Louisiana​ March 27 Read the press release

United Methodist Publishing House Grants Temporary Permission for UM Book of Worship and UM Hymnal Ritual Resources - Through April 30. Read the updated press release

The Inter-Ethnic Strategic Development Group (IESDG), a coalition represented by the five racial ethnic caucuses of The United Methodist Church on March 25 issued a statement on COVID-19 and xenophobia. Read it here

United Methodist Camp and Retreat Ministries is at work to help the leaders of the 190 centers around the country adapt to our new reality. Find Virtual Day Camp at https://virtualdaycamp.wixsite.com/umcrm  

Online communications training for churches GCFA tech support will conduct weekly Facebook Live sessions each Wednesday to help churches utilize online communications resources. Find them on GCFA’s Facebook page @GCFAUMC Learn more about these sessions

General Conference moved to 2021; group looking at new General Conference dates

Cancellation of Puerto Rico mission trips, more

The Methodist Church of Puerto Rico and Rebuilding Communities with Hope (REHACE) have decided to cancel all visits by mission trip teams through the end of April. Read their statement here

The Northeastern Jurisdiction (NEJ) United Methodist Volunteers in Mission (UMVIM) has just put out a statement for mission teams planning to deploy.

The April 2020 NEJ Mission and Disaster Academy has been postponed indefinitely. Those who have already registered will receive refunds. 

From Bishop Devadhar

Find a daily prayer during this pandemic from Bishop Devadhar and members of the Extended Cabinet
See a message from Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar – March 18, 2020
Bishop Devadhar has closed the Conference offices in Methuen beginning Tuesday, March 17.​
See a message from Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar – March 14, 2020
See a message from Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar – March 11, 2020

Conference/District announcements

Closed: All conference/district offices and our camp and retreat centers are closed until further notice. Staff are still working and are available by phone and email. Find contact information below:

Meetings/events Bishop Devadhar is calling on all conference committees/boards/agencies to meet via conference call or videoconferencing (no in-person meetings) through July 2020. Find some technology resources below. With regard to in-person events, all churches should be following the instructions issued by their state and local officials. 

Read a message from Mechuwana about camp registration

United Methodist Economic Ministry has suspended its thrift store. Learn how you can help supply food items

Conference Commission on Religion and Race Read a March 12 letter on racism in the time of coronavirus from CCORR

Resources and information

Aoout COVID-19 or coronavirus

People most at risk
Best practices for coronavirus and other infectious diseases
What to do if you get sick
How it is thought to spread

The CDC has posted “Interim Guidance for Community and Faith Leaders”  that includes:
  • Info on establishing a response plan
  • Cleaning guidelines
  • A checklist

Developing a Plan for ministry continuation when you can't meet in person

Resources from our NEAC community

If you have a resource you'd like to share, email communicate@neumc.org.

For churches

General information

Worshiping/meeting remotely

 Some other options:
  • Contact local radio stations to explore remote feeds or taped worship.
  • Contact the local Cable TV network about broadcasting videotape of worship services, church messages, or other events.
  • Tape worship message and post on the church website and inform members and the media of that option.
  • Ask your computer internet service provider about podcasts and live internet feeds of worship, Sunday school classes, or other events. While the initial investment may be costly, this could open up a whole new ministry for those unable to attend - at a very reasonable continuing cost.
  • Free Conference Calls - https://www.freeconferencecall.com/
  • Web based conferencing video/audio services:
    • Zoom videoconferencing has a free version. Learn more about Zoom
    • Google Hangouts is another option for gathering online. Learn more about Google Hangouts
    • Skype for calls or video

Online giving

Whether you’re livestreaming services or remotely providing spiritual guidance another way, your members want to continue supporting the church. Make sure they know how they can. The New England Conference provides this eGiving service through Vanco Visit the Vanco website

Discipleship Ministries also has some resources for online giving. Find those here: https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/articles/electronic-recurring-giving

Cleaning and hygiene

  • Information from the CDC
  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has created a list of home cleaning products to help combat the virus
  • Advice from UMCOR The new Executive Director of UMCOR Lara S. Martin has a Master’s in Public Health. She explains that the COVID-19 virus has a protein barrier that is broken, killing the virus, when it comes in contact with cleaning agents such as Clorox and Lysol. Soap and water is effective in protecting our hands against COVID-19 virus we may have come in contact with because it breaks the protein barrier and kills the virus when we wash for at least the recommended 20 seconds. For mission teams and churches, there is no specialized training needed to clean an area where there has been suspected coronavirus exposure. Just be sure to wear gloves and clean surfaces, especially plastic or steel surfaces where the virus could live for days, with a Clorox solution, Lysol or wipes treated with these products.
  • Here is a link to “Liturgy Man: Communion and Hygiene - Two Simple Practices to Keep People Well,” a January 2018 video on flu prevention with Taylor Burton-Edwards of Discipleship Ministries, who, as “Liturgy Man,” answers questions about United Methodist worship.
  • The Ten Commandments for Coronavirus Prevention in Faith Communities by Dr. Kevin Murriel, pastor of Cascade United Methodist Church in Atlanta

Homemade masks

Many people have asked about making masks to help address the tremendous need. We only recommend this if your local hospital requests them! Even when that request is made locally, don’t just drop them off ANYWHERE unless arranged ahead of time and only if asked. If you want to make them for yourself, know that the CDC says “… homemade masks are not considered personal protective equipment (PPE), since their capability to protect…is unknown.”

Resources for clergy

NEAC Parish Consultants Everything’s been turned upside down these days: figuring out virtual worship, how to creatively lead Holy Week and Easter celebrations, how to connect pastorally while “social distancing," how to support families and children and community needs. The Parish Consultants are available to help you think through these situations and find the resources you need in your area, and help connect clergy and church leaders to share best practices and good ideas.
For more information, contact Barb Lemmel at barblemmel@mac.com and she’ll connect you with a Parish Consultant.  


The BTS Center (missional successor to the former Bangor (ME) Theological Seminary) and the podcast Reports from the Spiritual Frontier are teaming up offers the following:
  • Faith Leaders Online Prayer Huddle: 9-9:45 a.m. Wednesdays via Zoom — an opportunity to bring our gratitude and our concerns into a sacred space, among compassionate colleagues, for prayer and mutual support. All faith leaders are welcome. Details here
  • Spiritual Practices for Spiritual Leaders During COVID-19:  Join in a Zoom meet-up with other faith leaders during which we’ll explore spiritual practices and patterns of action and reflection. Rev. Nicole Diroff, Program Coordinator for The BTS Center, will facilitate a conversation with Susan MacKenzie, United Methodist spiritual director, retreat leader, Master Naturalist, and Colby College professor, and Aram Mitchell, Executive Director of Renewal in the Wilderness. Learn more and register here
  • Ben Yosua-Davis has recorded a new podcast series focusing on Creativity, Compassion, and the Coronavirus

Pastor Emily Scott, who served in New York City through Hurricane Sandy, has written a post to medium.com, an idea-sharing platform, titled: “Your Brain Won’t Work As Well: Tips for Spiritual Leaders during Covid-19”

Coping with anxiety

  • Contact your pastor; a Stephen minister or prayer minister, if you have such a ministry at your church
  • The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration operates a Disaster Distress Helpline, providing 24/7 crisis counseling and support to people experiencing emotional distress related to natural or human-caused disasters. Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746. This is a toll-free, multilingual, and confidential crisis support service.
  • March 11 New York Times story offers tips for helping teens deal with anxiety
  • Helping kids cope with anxiety from the World Health Organization

Resources churches can share with their members

Home resources 

Commentary

A Bioethicist’s Guide to COVID-19 by DePaul University’s Craig Klugman, shared by Rev. Erica Robinson-Johnson


We hope that this information will be helpful to you and your congregations. If you find information or resources you think would be helpful to share, please send them to communicate@neumc.org and we will add them to this information.