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Frequently Asked Questions

Updated April 2, 2020 A page of Frequently Asked Questions about actions The Virginia Conference of The United Methodist Church is taking to protect congregants and to continue ministry during the COVID-19 pandemic has been created. Many of these precautions are expected to remain in place for some time, until this crisis is clearly over. This document is also updated periodically. Click here to view the page.

Do no harm: A message from Bishop Lewis

April 1, 2020 -- Bishop Lewis writes, "When we use the term 'Chinese Virus' to describe the COVID-19 pandemic, it not only creates a culture of xenophobia, but it can also create physical, emotional and economic harm to persons of Asian descent. We are blessed in the Virginia Conference to be in community that embraces our ethnic diversity."
Click here to download and read her letter (pdf).

Bishop Lewis shares new COVID-19 information

March 26, 2020 -- This worldwide COVID-19 pandemic has forced both secular and faith communities to change the way we go about our work as we focus on the safety and well-being of individuals inside and outside of our communities. On March 23, 2020, Governor Northam instituted more changes for the Commonwealth of Virginia which includes the closure of K-12 schools for the rest of the academic year and the closure of “non-essential” businesses as of midnight on March 24, 2020 for 30 days. More... (pdf) 

RE: Essential Personnel Childcare Services during the COVID-19 Emergency

The Bishop and the Cabinet of the Virginia Conference recognize that childcare facilities on United Methodist Church property may want to respond to the COVID-19 emergency by continuing to operate under the new restrictions introduced by the Commonwealth of Virginia with particular emphasis on serving the children of essential personnel. We offer these guidelines for such situations. More... (pdf)

CFA prioritizes 2020 apportionments 

March 26, 2020 -- The Council on Finance and Administration (CFA) recognizes the impact that the pandemic is having on local churches in the Virginia Conference. After meeting over the last week, CFA is responding by prioritizing the apportio¬nments for 2020 in an effort to relieve the impact our local churches are experiencing. More... (pdf)

COVID-19: A letter from Bishop Lewis and the Virginia Conference Cabinet

March 18, 2020
If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?
— Psalm 11:3
(Click here to download a pdf copy of this letter)
Ours is a faith that is built to shine in hard times. As the Bishop and Cabinet of the Virginia Conference, we recognize that these are hard times and share with you what we believe. We believe that God does some of God’s best work when the going gets tough. At the center of our faith is a Messiah, crucified yet raised from the dead to show how God’s love and power work. So, when our world is facing pandemic…when our congregations are refraining from in-person worship…when people are retreating into isolation for the common good…when we are overwhelmed by fear and foreboding...what is Christ’s Church to do? We believe that now is the time for us to be the Church, for the sake of the world. Now is the time to bear witness to the God who is able to make all things new, who redeems even the most desperate of situations, and whose grace is always sufficient. Now is the time to let our light shine in the midst of the world’s despair, to bring healing in the midst of brokenness. More...

Updated Information re: COVID-19 From Bishop Lewis

March 17, 2020:
Good morning. There are many fast-moving and important developments about the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.
With the Centers for Disease Control yesterday urging that no groups of 10 or more gather, many church activities must be cancelled. In addition, in-person worship services will also be cancelled on Sunday March 29, as well as this upcoming Sunday, March 22.
These and many other issues are addressed in a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document that can be found HERE
We will be providing regular email updates about this situation as well as ongoing updates to the FAQ document. It is important that all documents be carefully, thoroughly, and immediately read. 
Thank you for your attention to these matters. And let us be in fervent prayer throughout this challenging time. 
Peace and Blessings,
Bishop Sharma D. Lewis

Recap of Virginia Conference COVID-19 (coronavirus) precautions

March 15, 2020 -- From Bishop Lewis 
Dear Virginia Conference,
As we remain nimble in the face of COVID-19 with precautions implemented starting last week against its spread, I want to thank our clergy and local church staff across the Commonwealth who found creative and loving ways to lead us in online worship this morning. Here are some things to be thinking about for the week of March 16, 2020... Click here to read entire letter (pdf).

All Virginia Conference churches are to cancel in-person worship, March 15, March 22

March 13, 2020 -- A letter from Bishop Sharma D. Lewis
Click here to download a pdf copy of the bishop's letter.
 
Dear Virginia Conference,

In monitoring the COVID-19 situation and the state of emergency announced by Governor Northam yesterday, all Virginia Conference churches are to cancel worship service for Sunday, March 15 and Sunday, March 22. I also strongly urge that any large gatherings at your church be postponed.
Public health officials have shared that with an abundance of caution we can help slow the spread of disease by practicing social distancing.
We have other ways to practice and show our faith. There are tips on the conference website here to learn how to livestream at your local church as well as a list of churches around the state that livestream their services or record them for later viewing.
Please remain in prayer for those most vulnerable in our communities as well as those suffering from COVID-19 and their families. Also, please pray for leaders and healthcare professionals in the United States and worldwide who are working to contain this pandemic and find a vaccine.
Also, it cannot be said enough, please continue to use best practices by regularly washing your hands, avoid touching your face and monitoring updates from local officials on how to best care for yourself and your loved ones during this time.

Peace and Blessings, 
Bishop Sharma D. Lewis

Resources:
• Find churches livestreaming services: http://www.vaumc.org/ncfilerepository/News2020/LivestreamChurches.pdf
• Learn how to prepare your church for livestreaming: http://www.vaumc.org/ncfilerepository/News2020/covidlivestreamtips.pdf
• The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is updating information daily at https://www.cdc.gov/
• National Institutes of Health: https://www.nih.gov/health-information/coronavirus

Precautions issued related to preschools, food pantries, weddings, and funerals in the Virginia Conference

March 13, 2020 -- Bishop Lewis directs that all preschools be closed for the next two weeks. We will re-evaluate whether it is prudent to begin in-person worship for March 29, 2020 and whether it is prudent to reopen the pre-schools on March 23, 2020.  All clergy and local churches in the Virginia Conference should use discretion and best practices when holding weddings and funerals at this time. More...

Conference Center shares precautions pertaining to COVID-19 (coronavirus)

March 13, 2020 -- As Bishop Lewis and conference leaders continue to monitor the COVID-19 (coronavirus) situation, certain precautions will take effect in the conference center building to ensure the well-being and health of the staff and guests to the building. 
Starting Monday, March 16, 2020, it is highly encouraged that any upcoming meetings be done through ZOOM. If in-person meetings in the conference center are necessary, no meetings above 20 persons will be allowed; these meetings can also make use of ZOOM.
Beginning immediately, Wednesday morning chapel services are on hold until April 6. As well, conference staff will not be able to facilitate any district trainings until April 6.
As this is a fluid situation, changes to these new precautions will be modified as necessary prior to or following April 6.
For any questions related to building matters, please contact David Dommisse at DavidDommisse@vaumc.org.
Please be in prayer for those suffering from COVID-19, their families, and for local, state, and national leaders and professionals in the United States and worldwide working to contain COVID-19 and find a vaccine.
For the latest conference news about the COVID-19 situation, visit https://vaumc.org/Coronavirus2020.

Bishop Lewis urges people to be 'non-anxious presence' in midst of concerns

March 5, 2020 -- Greetings to you, Virginia Conference, in the midst of this time of self-examination and reflection, during this Lenten Season. As you are aware, anxiety is high worldwide as governments and private individuals seek to understand more about the coronavirus. As people of faith, we pray for those working on the front lines of this new virus and those who find themselves ill. As individuals, we may have concerns as to how we respond going forward from church services to our own personal self-care.  Click here to read entire letter.

Coronavirus: What to know, how to help

With new cases being diagnosed seemingly every hour, the question of “How concerned should I be about Coronavirus?” is being asked by many around the world.

The first cases of Coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19, were diagnosed in China in December 2019. Since then, the illness with pneumonia-type symptoms, has spread to 37 nations to-date, including countries where United Methodists reside and attend church.

While places where people gather in close proximity, such as worship services, may be vulnerable, there are simple steps to take to limit risks, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Above all, anyone feeling unwell should stay home and seek medical care.

Stay informed and follow advice given by your healthcare provider. Stay up-to-date on Coronavirus by checking reliable sources, such as the World Health Organization, National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control, and Global Health Tracker.

Visit this page provided by umc.org  
Visit this page provided by the Virginia Conference's Alexandria/Arlington Districts

 

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The Virginia Conference of The United Methodist Church
10330 Staples Mill Road, Glen Allen, VA 23060
P.O. Box 5606, Glen Allen, VA 23058-5606
(804) 521-1100
Click here for directions to the Center