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
In this Nov. 9 revision of the TAM, changes are noted in red. The three significant changes are:
1) A provision for the placement of hymnals and Bibles in pews in settings where there is at least 24 hours between use of the room.
2) A provision for limited congregational singing outdoors only, if the singers are properly masked, distanced, and positioned in a line.
3) Information on food preparation has been removed and can now be found on the web page of the Ministry and Ministry Workgroup: https://vaumc.org/MM/.
Technical Assistance Manual for Local Churches (PDF) Updated11/09/20 This manual is to be used by churches in planning in-person worship from June 21 and going forward.
Technical Assistance Manual for Local Churches (Word) Updated 11/09/20
(The Handbook used for Stage 1 for in-person worship has now been archived. Please review the Technical Assistance Manual at the link above for planning in-person worship from June 21 and going forward. If you do need information previously found in Stage 1 Handbook you can gain access by requesting from email@example.com).
Technical Assistance Manual in Spanish (PDF)
Technical Assistance Manual in Spanish (Word)
Guidance for Healthy Church Teams on What to Do in a Covid-19 Resurgence
Nov. 25, 2020 — Click here to open pdf
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 Orders from the Governor
Nov. 14, 2020 — The 25-person limit effective November 16, 2020 does not apply to places of worship. EO-63 requires wearing face coverings and this applies to religious services. EO-67 does not restrict the numbers that can attend religious services to the 25-person limit if a number of requirements are met (the ones already in the TAM). However, the 25-person limit does apply to things related to churches that are not religious services. That means Mission and Ministry programs and anything else that is not a service is limited to 25 or less.
Requirement to Wear Face Covering While Inside Buildings–EO-63 (pdf)
Phase Three Tightening of Certain Temporary Restrictions Due to COVID-19–EO67 (pdf)
View Town Hall from September 2020
View a Town Hall from September 2020 where information was shared about the In-Person Workgroup and the Mission & Ministry Workgroup. Watch event…
Back to In-Person Work Group Statement on Holy Communion (pdf) (Updated 6/1/20)
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)
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
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.”