As we scramble to continue to be church in these new circumstances, our district, conference, episcopal area and denomination are flooding us with resources to make the pivot. If you saw something fly by in your e-mail and now you can't find it again, contact the District Office (firstname.lastname@example.org or 503.802.9227) and Brandon will do his best to help track it down.
- If as clergy or lay leadership, you become aware that someone in your congregation has tested positive for COVID-19, click here for a list of procedures and communication protocols.
- If you have been exposed to COVID-19, click here for what to do.
And remember to do the basics:
- Update your church office voicemail message to include:
- that you are not meeting at the building for worship, and what options you are offering for worship;
- any change in hours of availability;
- whether they can leave a message and how soon to expect a call back and/or numbers to call for help;
- the pastor and anyone who is responding to needs, contacts for other groups who use your building;
- a blessing for the caller!
- Update your website and Facebook page
- Have the information about not gathering at the building for worship and the options you are offering for worship be prominent and easy to find.
- Add easy-to-find instructions about how and who to contact with questions or requests for help.
- Share what you are doing with the CDCES grant and other ways your congregation is helping your neighbors.
- Tell folks about how you are gathering in this season, either in the local newspaper (paid ads or offer it as a story idea), Facebook, podcasts, local cable, web, and/or radio stations.
- People who may not have ever come in your doors may now be looking for some support and encouragement, and will be willing to check out your online worship or sign up for an e-mail
- People need to hear encouraging stories about people caring for each other to counter the fear- and anxiety-producing stories they're hearing elsewhere
- Stay in touch with your members and friends
- If your congregation mostly checked in with each other on Sunday mornings, you'll need to find a new way to do that by phone, e-mail, or Zoom gatherings.
- People need more contact, not less, when they are isolated and anxious.
Setting up video conference meetings
- Congregations can get a deeply discounted Zoom account in order to hold meetings and other events through videoconference while everyone stays safely at home! Click here to learn more.
- Once you get that Zoom account, click here for information on hosting Zoom meetings.
- And if you aren't the host, but have been invited to participate in a Zoom meeting from home, click here for instructions on how to do that.
Doing worship remotely
- Click here for an article that does a great job of covering considerations about doing worship online.
- For more detailed information about doing a live stream worship or other gathering, click here.
- For guidance from the Western Jurisdiction Bishops about observing holy communion, click here.
- For guidance on conducting memorial services during this time, click here.
- If your congregation won't be putting worship online, you might want to offer information about how members can access services from other local UM churches which are. A list can be found by clicking here. (And let us know if you are offering that, so we can add you to the list!)
Supporting worship and spiritual growth at home:
- Illustrated Ministry is offering select resources free during the pandemic. Go to www.illustratedministry.com and look for the 'sign up here' banner along the top.
- The Lewis Center for Church Leadership is offering video-based studies at greatly discounted prices through April 30. These are suitable for remote studies together. Check it out by clicking here.
Church Finances when you are not gathering:
- Check out the new Finance and Operations Resource Page on the Greater NW Area website.
- Invitation to the Finance and Operations webinar Friday, April 3 at 10 a.m.
- Read this article about online giving by clicking here.
- "10 Ideas for Church Financial Leaders Amid the COVID-19 Crisis" offers suggestions across the spectrum of financial concerns. Click here to read.
- Vanco, a partner of The United Methodist Church’s General Council on Finance and Administration, is offering to waive the monthly fee for the Start Plan for online giving pages for a full year. Read more by clicking here.
- Cesie Delve Scheuermann, who serves as a Stewardship/Development consult to the Annual Conference, has a wealth of ideas and resources to share. Check out her Inspiring Generosity blog posts by clicking here. Recent blogs recommend a webinar, Electronic Recurring Giving: Needed Now More than Ever" and information on the Paycheck Protection Program section of the CARES Act.
- Prepare to apply for support through the CARES Relief Act: https://greaternw.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Preparing-to-file-for-CARES-Act-Relief2.pdf
- Link to request a copy of the Group Ruling Request (document to confirm your church's 501(c)(3) non-profit status): http://umgroupruling.org
- IRS Publication which explains group rulings: https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/group-exemption-resources then look for Publication 4573
Additional UMC resources
- The Greater Northwest Area website has a page for Coronavirus resources that is jam-packed with information, including links to the Bishop's updates and directives, links to public health information, as well as some of the information I've listed above and more! That page is https://greaternw.org/coronavirus/.
- Our denomination offers virtual worship how-tos, congregational care ideas and ways to respond at https://www.resourceumc.org/en/topics/helping-your-church-respond-to-the-coronavirus.
- UMC.org offers prayer tools, encouraging podcasts and comforting articles at https://www.umc.org/en/how-we-serve/promoting-health-and-wholeness/coronavirus-information-resources.
- The wider Episcopal area will be celebrating Easter together - find out more at https://greaternw.org/celebrating-easter-together-during-this-time-of-physical-separation/.
- The United Methodist Federal Credit Union - https://umfcu.org/ - offers assistance to churches and members, including online donation services.
Non-Profit, Activities, Government, and other Resources
- Dougy Center - www.dougy.org - Portland-area nonprofit that supports children navigate grief together.
- National Alliance on Mental Illness (Oregon) - http://namior.org - Suicide rates may rise due to COVID-19 fears. These folks help resist that.
- Oregon's COVID-19 page - https://govstatus.egov.com/OR-OHA-COVID-19 - The State of Oregon dumps all of their updates related to the pandemic here. An email newsletter is also available.
- CovidActNow - https://covidactnow.org/state/OR - Community-powered modeling of how different practices can help flatten the curve.
- Health Data - http://covid19.healthdata.org/ - A similar stats-powered set of models to estimate rates of infection and hospital capacity.
- Make your own washable, reusable face mask - https://ragmask.com/ - Experts have recently surmised that simple masks in public may be particularly helpful for preventing COVID-19's spread, both for the asymptomatic infected and the non-infected. This site has simple instructions for how to sew your own.