"Jesus was always mindful of the least and the most vulnerable among us. In fact, the very heart of his healing ministry was calling us to care for those on the edges. In this season, I believe the best way for us to be the church and follow Jesus' example is by diligently doing everything in our power to care for one another and limit the spread of coronavirus."
Bishop Bruce R. Ough, Resident Bishop, Dakotas-Minnesota Area
As the COVID-19, or coronavirus, pandemic makes its way around the world, churches can play a key role in preventing the spread of the illness. This page and the pages linked below will be regularly updated with new information and resources as the COVID-19 outbreak and response continues to unfold in Minnesota.
Governor Tim Walz issued a "stay at home" executive order for Minnesota that will be in effect from 11:59 Friday, March 27 to 5 p.m. Friday, April 10. Faith leaders are listed as exempt from the order in order to perform the absolutely critical and necessary components of their work. Here's what this means for churches:
• Churches should not have in-person worship (Bishop Ough has asked all churches to suspend it until at least May 10).
• Pastoral care visits should be done by phone or online.
• Staff, leadership team, ministry team, youth group, and other group meetings should be done virtually.
• Church volunteers should cease activities that require them to leave their homes.
• Having a few people record or live stream worship from your church sanctuary is permitted. If you do this, be sure everyone in the building follows social distancing guidelines and that the number of people does not exceed 10 in compliance with Minnesota Department of Health recommendations.
• Clergy can leave their homes in order to do essential work that cannot be done remotely; they should remain at home and connect with people virtually whenever possible.
Bishop Bruce R. Ough is asking all United Methodist congregations in the Minnesota Conference to suspend in-person worship until at least May 10. He also urges the postponement or cancellation of all non-essential, in-person small group meetings or gatherings in our church buildings during this timeframe. Watch March 24 video message / Read March 24 message
We've gathered many helpful resources on live streaming, virtual meetings, church finances, and church best practices during this unprecedented time.
We are answering your questions and posting the responses here.
We've compiled some excellent virtual resources for Holy Week and Easter at a time when in-person gatherings are not possible.
Congregations are adapting and finding new ways of doing and being church without in-person worship services and gatherings.
Find a few ways in which the Minnesota Conference is responding to COVID-19, including canceling conference events, suspending operations for 30 days at Dakotas-Minnesota United Methodist Camp and Retreat Centers, and organizing a COVID-19 response team.
Here is some guidance from federal and state government to slow the spread of COVID-19, with additional guidance for churches.
Finding trustworthy information can be difficult. Here are accurate sources for info at the national, state, and Minnesota Conference levels. Also, find info on postponement of General Conference 2020.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act establishes a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) that will provide low-interest loans for companies and nonprofits (including churches)—a portion of which can be forgiven if the organization meets certain criteria, such as retaining workers. Applications are open now, so act quickly.
We are sending out frequent email updates amid the coronavirus outbreak. Click to see all past emails.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church