Have a question for the Minnesota Conference regarding COVID-19 and your congregations and communities? Email firstname.lastname@example.org, and we'll answer to the best of our abilities. Our COVID-19 response page has the latest resources and updates.
Question: Our congregation has started to have in-person worship services and events with limited capacity, in line with the Phased Re-Gathering Plan. However, I'm concerned that a church leader is not following guidelines around wearing a mask and physical distancing. What can I do?
Answer: Please get in touch with your district superintendent and let them know of your concerns. Find each district superintendent's contact info.
Question: Can we have drive-up worship at our church?
Answer: Yes. Please just make sure everyone remains in their vehicles or six feet apart at all times and only offer communion if you are able to provide pre-packaged elements that you can distribute without having direct person-to-person contact. Also be sure that those leading the service are following social distancing guidelines and staying six feet apart from each other and others gathered in order to both keep everyone safe and model the behavior needed to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Question: Can communion be consecrated online?
Answer: Yes. Bishop Ough grants permission for pastors to do online communion, which typically consists of clergy offering the words of consecration remotely, and people using elements in their homes to take communion (here is a sample liturgy for online communion). That said, he strongly encourages clergy to be intentional about how they do this and to do it well by explaining or using scripture to interpret the meaning of communion and using the words of institution. For shut-ins, individuals on their death beds, people who are quarantined, and anyone else who is extremely vulnerable, it is absolutely appropriate and encouraged to serve communion online or using whatever means are necessary and available.
Question: Can congregations take charge conference votes online during the health crisis?
Answer: Bishop Ough encourages clergy to first consider whether voting on a particular matter during this period of social distancing is crucial and necessary; if it’s not and can wait until the congregation is able to physically gather again, that’s what should be done. If a vote is absolutely necessary at this time, meeting online using a video conferencing platform is preferable because it most closely aligns with the meaning of “present and voting” in The Book of Discipline. However, in settings or situations when that isn’t possible, voting in some other electronic fashion is permitted.
Question: What do you recommend for child care centers that operate within our churches?
Answer: Gov. Walz has recommended that child care centers remain open so that the Minnesota work force can continue to operate. However, he acknowledged—as we do—that it is understandable for centers to decide to close given the latest health agency recommendations. Churches need to make the best possible decision given their own circumstances, and we support you in whatever decision you make. Here are a few things to consider as you weigh options:
Question: Our congregation already has a CCLI or OneLicense account to legally use music during online worship. But how do we make sure we are legally allowed to use other written copyright material during our online worship services?
Answer: You need to seek out permission from each copyright holder to use any form of printed material that has a copyright attached to it during your service. There is no one copyright clearinghouse for printed material in the way there is for music.
This includes most translations of the Bible, poems, liturgies, children's books, and any other written material with a copyright. You will have to research who own the copyright (sometimes the author may hold the copyright, but more often it is the publisher) and contact the copyright holder. With some online searching, you should be able to find an email address for the copyright holder in most cases. Hold onto this permission once you get it, so you can show documentation in the event someone were to make an inquiry on behalf of the copyright holder. Keep in mind the following:
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church