Continue to act in the common good.
An update on COVID-19 and in-person worship recommendations
January 13, 2021
Dear Friends in Christ in The United Methodist Churches of Michigan,
Grace to you and peace, in the name of the Christ whose light we celebrate this Epiphany Season. I hope the Christmas season brought you all opportunities for rest and to know the joy woven into our celebrations of the birth of Jesus. I know it was a strange year to celebrate Christmas because of the coronavirus pandemic, and it is about that pandemic that I write to you.
I continue to be grateful for the thoughtful and careful ways you have all been making decisions about ministry during this pandemic. You continue to respond graciously, even when you are encouraged to do uncomfortable things, such as refrain from in-person worship during the Christmas season. You desire to act in the interest of public health, the common good, and the well-being of others, all in the spirit of Jesus. I appreciate that.
Recent news about the coronavirus continues to encourage caution. Cases of COVID remain high across our nation and state, as do hospitalization rates. We continue to set daily records for new infections across the country. In some places, the availability of intensive care unit beds is critically low. According to the Brown School of Public Health (https://globalepidemics.org/) we remain at the highest risk level across our state, the level of unchecked community spread. We are aware that a new, more contagious strain of the coronavirus has been found in the United States. There is good news with the availability of vaccines, and we know the distribution of those vaccines has been a bit problematic. I am very aware that broad statements about the on-going spread of COVID do not capture all the local nuances of a state as big as Michigan.
In light of what is happening, I offer the following guidance as we seek to continue to care for public health, the common good, and the well-being of others while being in ministry together for Jesus Christ:
Have a well-considered plan for in-person gatherings that is cautious and flexible.
Worship is not about our buildings. Ministry happens in all kinds of places and in all kinds of ways. “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” The answer was, “yes!” Significant progress is being made against this pandemic. Now is a time to be patient and prudent in decision-making.
David Alan Bard
Guidance on How to reopen local churches:
Please click HERE to download the PRINCIPLES & DIRECTIONS.