COVID Considerations and Guidelines

COVID Response Team

Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar
Beth DiCocco
Rev. Jill Colley Robinson
Rev. Taesung Kang
Rev. Rick McKinley

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Additional Resources

CDC guidance for churches

Guidance on music/singing

State COVID-19 websites


Guidelines for In-Person Worship & Ministry During COVID-19 

Updated May 5, 2021

The information on these pages is the most current information we have. 

Guidelines for In-Person Worship & Ministry During COVID-19

See our guidelines for worship music by clicking the link below right.

Guidance updates from the COVID Response Team (formerly the Re-Entry Team)

COVID update: Leading our communities - May 11, 2022

Read the team's update

COVID update: BA.2 variant - April 20, 2022

Read the team's update

COVID update: Singing, masks and more - March 9, 2022

Read the team's update

COVID: Looking at the Long Term - Feb. 9, 2022

Find a recording and additional resources from this webinar

COVID Response Team update - Jan. 10, 2022

Read the team's update on Omicron

Re-Entry Team update - Dec. 6, 2021

Read the team's information on singing and more

Re-Entry Team update - Oct. 7, 2021

Read the team's update with information on healthy ventilation and more

Re-Entry Team update - Aug. 25, 2021

Read the team's response with info on resurgence of the virus and ministry with youth 12 and younger

Re-Entry Team update - May 14, 2021

Re-Entry Team update - May 10, 2021

Watch a video recording of the May 10 webinar and get materials 

April 27, 2021

CDC issues new guidelines for fully vaccinated people outdoors

Read the new information

Feb. 19, 2021

Read a message from the Re-Entry Team

The New England Conference Re-Entry Team has been receiving many questions about whether the increased distribution of a vaccine and the decline in infection rates in some areas mean churches should consider returning to in-person worship. While the team does not make decisions for your church about whether to hold events or gather for worship, we do provide information and resources to aid in your discernment.

We also recommend this video interview about COVID vaccines

Additional resources

Protocols for exposure/increased risk

Nov. 24, 2020 — Resources from the Ecumenical Protocols for Worship, Fellowship, and Sacramental Practices
  • Advent/Christmas guidance — The Ecumenical Protocols for Worship, Fellowship, and Sacramental Practices just released their Advent/Christmas guidance with very useful planning ideas as well as precautions for specific common services and events Read more
  • Outdoor gatherings — The Ecumenical Protocols for Worship, Fellowship, and Sacramental Practices’ guidance for outdoor gatherings. Read more
  • Risk assessment tool — The Ecumenical Protocols for Worship, Fellowship, and Sacramental Practices shares this tool for assessing local COVID-19 risk.  Read more
Aug. 6, 2020 — On the Go Masks is GCFA’s newest ministry partner; offering discount On the Go Masks (OTG) has been vetted and approved as a ministry partner of the General Council on Finance and Administration (GCFA). On the Go Masks is offering an exclusive program for the purchase of KN95 personal protection equipment (PPE) at a reduced rate. Learn more
July 11, 2020 — Source for gloves: Barbara Burnside, Conference Disaster Response & Mission Coordinator, shares this source for Nitrile Exam Gloves, Powder Free.

June 26, 2020 — Order re-opening supplies from Home Depot and benefit UMCOR

Any church/affiliate or leadership member that orders cleaning and other re-opening supplies from Home Depot Pro can get the supplies delivered to the church and make a donation to UMCOR at the same time. 

This an expansion of a program Home Depot has offered since 2018. Churches/leaders that register a credit card to purchase supplies for the church can designate UMCOR to receive a percentage of those purchases as a donation. 

Home Depot advises that churches can get a better price on some items when they are purchased in bulk (for example, Bioesque disinfectant solution). NOTE: Churches that want to go in together with other churches or UMC organizations on bulk purchases will have to register a single credit card and designate a single delivery location for those purchases. 

This program is not meant to replace any purchases from local vendors that churches wish to support in their communities. It is simply another resource for hard-to-get items.

Churches that purchase specified supplies for other church needs – such as repair or disaster response projects – also receive up to a 20% discount on supplies such as paints, stains and primer.

See a flyer from Home Depot about this program

June 18, 2020: The Ecumenical Consultation on Protocols for Worship, Fellowship, and Sacraments put together by the Candler School of Theology at Emory University offers some. Click the image for a PDF.

June 15, 2020: City of Boston’s operational recommendations for Places of Worship and Religious Services — There is some good information in here that we think may be helpful to you no matter where your church is located.
May 19, 2020: Read “Why Reopening a Church is Different” by Rev. Alex A. Shanks,
Assistant to Bishop Ken Carter of the Florida Annual Conference.​

Questions to consider as we contemplate returning to in-person worship

Reopening: Immunologist shares “The Risks — Know Them — Avoid Them” 

Erin Bromage, comparative immunologist and professor of biology (specializing in immunology) at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, shared a COVID-19 blog post titled “The Risks — Know Them — Avoid Them” that’s received attention across the nation. “So throughout most of the country we are going to add fuel to the viral fire by reopening. It's going to happen if I like it or not, so my goal here is to try to guide you away from situations of high risk,” Bromage writes. Read more

Video resources

Bishop discusses COVID-19 with White House adviser
In late February 2021, Virginia Conference Bishop Sharma Lewis talked
with Dr. David B. Agus about the COVID-19 vaccination process and
information pertinent to the mission and ministry of churches. Dr. Agus
is professor of medicine and engineering at the University of
Southern California Keck School of Medicine and Viterbi School
of Engineering and the Founding Director of the Ellison Institute.

Hear a message about reopening  from the NEAC Cabinet

In this video, Stephanie Bennett, pastor of the Barrackville (WVa) UMC,
demonstrates what physical  distancing and other re-entry practices really look at church.

In this video, Rev. Doug Robinson-Johnson offers a theological reflection on
why Christians should wear masks. Rev. Robinson-Johnson is  an elder in
the New England Conference serving as senior pastor of National UMC in Washington, DC

Click the link to watch a recording from a May 13, 2020 webinar “Road to Reopening The UMC” hosted by The Woodlands (TX) UMC. The hour-long panel discussion covered a wide variety of topics around re-starting in-person worship.