Below you will find information and resources to help guide your congregation or faith community through the process of returning to in-person worship in the midst of the current pandemic. Congregations are asked to form a Healthy Church Team to develop plans in accordance with the Technical Assistance Manual (TAM) for Stage 2. Plans can be submitted for approval to your District Superintendent.
Bishop Sharma D. Lewis announced the cessation of in-person worship in the Virginia Conference due to COVID-19 in March of 2020 after significant prayer and thoughtful consultation with experts in the religious, legal, and scientific communities. Her closure of our churches was done with the singular goal of saving lives and keeping individuals and their communities healthy, as we did our part as United Methodists to help stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.
In late April, Bishop Lewis formed a work group to develop plans and procedures for resuming in-person worship, maintaining the same goal of keeping individuals and their communities healthy and safe. The Work Group on Return to In-Person Worship and the Mission & Ministry Work Group, which was created in September 2020, utilize professionals and resources from a variety of disciplines in order to develop the resources you will find on this web page. These are dynamic documents that will be updated with information gleaned from churches around the Conference as we walk together and learn from one other in these difficult and uncertain times. Contact your district superintendent if you have questions about these documents.
Learn more about the work of this group and the Mission & Ministry Workgroup with this Town Hall from September 24. View Town Hall…
New Mission & Ministry Workgroup Web Page
The Bishop’s newly-formed Mission and Ministry Workgroup continues to diligently meet to develop policies and guidance to help Virginia Conference faith communities do ministry in this time of COVID. While the development of the primary document is still in progress, members of the workgroup would like to share some timely resources they believe will be of use to local churches.
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Technical Assistance Manual
Dec. 11, 2020 — On Thursday, December 10, 2020, Gov. Ralph Northam issued Executive Order 72. Under this order, any gathering at a church, unless it is to provide essential services for low-income residents (e.g., food pantries, homeless ministries with persons being lodged at the church, etc.), is limited to 10 individuals. That means Sunday School, Youth Groups, Board of Trustees meetings, live nativities, etc. Other groups that use the church building are also limited to 10 or fewer people.
Requirements related to non-worship gatherings can be found on the Mission and Ministry Workgroup web page: http://doc.vaumc.org/News2020/Nonworshipgatherings.pdf. These requirements are consistent with this Technical Assistance Manual.
Technical Assistance Manual for Local Churches (PDF) Updated 3/24/21 (Latest changes in green) This manual is to be used by churches in planning in-person worship.
Technical Assistance Manual for Local Churches (Word) Updated 3/24/21 (Latest changes in green)
Technical Assistance Manual in Spanish (PDF)
Technical Assistance Manual in Spanish (Word)
Updates Related to In-Person Worship Work Group
March 10, 2021 – Following updates from the Virginia Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control (pdf)
New Video series: COVID Connection
The Return to In-Person and the Mission & Ministry Workgroups, two teams formed by Bishop Lewis during the pandemic to safely return United Methodists to worship and the life of the church, are now sharing a video series titled “COVID Connection.” This video series will seek to educate and inform as well as share positivity as the pandemic continues. View entire playlist.
February 5, 2021: Video 1: Ash Wednesday Resources
February 16, 2021: Video 2: Handwashing with Singing
February 18, 2021: Video 3: Interview about COVID-19 vaccine with Dr. Agus
March 5, 2021: Video 4: How to wear a mask
March 16, 2021: Video 5: Zoom fatigue
Small Church Resources
The Bishop’s Back to In-Person Worship Workgroup invited a handful of pastors serving smaller membership congregations in the Virginia Conference to share ideas and best practices gleaned from their church’s return to in-person worship, and the various modes of virtual worship they are using. The following is a summary of the ideas we received, as well as other helpful information. The pastors that shared their experiences are willing to connect with others who have questions or need support. Their contact information is at the end of this document. Read summary.
Guidance for Healthy Church Teams on What to Do in a Covid-19 Resurgence
Nov. 25, 2020 — Click here to open pdf
Updated Statement on Online Holy Communion During the COVID-19 Pandemic by Bishop Lewis and the Cabinet (Sept. 2, 2020)
Back to In-Person Work Group Statement on Holy Communion (pdf) (Updated 6/1/20)
A Conversation with DS Alex Joyner and Chancellor Steve Brown
Nov. 17, 2020 — The Rev. Alex Joyner, Eastern Shore district superintendent, and Mr. Steve Brown, Virginia Conference chancellor, converse about the conference’s return to worship and questions churches may have as the nation and world continue to navigate COVID-19 using best safety and health practices.
Click here to view video
Click here to read transcript of video (pdf)
Revised Executive Order from the Governor
View Town Hall from December 2020
On December 3, 2020, four pastors shared their worship experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic in the Virginia Conference. View recording…
Town Hall Hosted by the Eastern Shore District
Click to listen to the video that covered multiple subjects related to the pandemic.
Screening/Health Acknowledgement Forms
The Health Acknowledgement Form is the document referenced in the Handbook for Local Churches.
From the Bishop: Manual, health form updates (7/9/20)
COVID Health Acknowledgement Online Form Instructions (pdf) (Updated 6/16/20)
Health Acknowledgement form can be completed at https://evc.vaumc.org
Paper versions of the form are also available below.
English: Health Acknowledgement Form (PDF) (Updated 6/18/20)
English: Health Acknowledgement Form (Word) (Updated 6/18/20)
English: Health Acknowledgement Poster pdf
Spanish: Health Acknowledgement Form (pdf) (Updated 6/18/20)
Spanish: Health Acknowledgement Form (Word) (Updated 6/18/20)
Spanish: Health Acknowledgement Poster pdf
Korean: Health Acknowledgement Form (pdf)
When to Test for COVID, by Dr. George Moxley
FAQ on What to Do if I Have Been Exposed to COVID-19 (Virginia Health Department)
Masks and Face Covering Guidance
Click here to watch videos of Bishop Lewis and Dr. Moxley discussing the important of wearing a mask.
Guidance on wearing a mask fromthe Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) (pdf)
CDC: Community Use of Cloth Masks
Recording and Streaming
Singing: A Review of Where We Are by Dr. George Moxley
Remarks on Singing by the Rev. Leigh Anne Taylor
Caroling – Worship Design Studio: Park, Porch, & Sidewalk
Childcare and Preschool Requirements and Guidelines (pdf) (Updated 5/21/20)
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“I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous;
do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”