Coronavirus and the Church

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can be transmitted from person to person. The COVID-19 pandemic is a formidable global public health challenge. Since the initial emergence of a novel coronavirus in late 2019, the spread of SARS-CoV-2 has been unrelenting, impacting nearly every aspect of society worldwide.

The pandemic has required a substantial response by public health authorities at all levels. It has spread throughout the world, causing illness and death. Its effects in various countries and localities have ranged from cancellations of public gatherings, to limits or bans on travel, to the overwhelming of health care systems, to drops in financial markets. 

The Delta variant causes more infections and spreads faster than earlier forms of the virus that causes COVID-19. It might cause more severe illness than previous strains in unvaccinated people. Vaccines continue to be highly effective at preventing hospitalization and death, including against this variant. Fully vaccinated people with breakthrough infections from this variant appear to be infectious for a shorter period.

COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for all people aged 12 years and older, including people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant now or might become pregnant in the future. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine can protect you from severe illness from COVID-19.

Get vaccinated and wear masks indoors in public spaces to reduce the spread of this variant.

Like other organizations, churches must take appropriate health precautions. We also have a special responsibility to care for members and neighbors. This web page contains information that all settings of the United Church of Christ – local churches, associations, conferences, and national ministries – have contributed to and may find useful. Resources also come from our ecumenical partners and respected health organizations.

For up to date information on the virus and current research please refer to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Help for Churches in Responding

A Faithful Response, with Worship, to the Coronavirus (Google Docs)
A broad list of tips and suggestions from UCC Justice and Local Church Ministries, ranging from liturgical resources to copyright info. to links to recorded videoconferences

Pastoral Care for Grieving Families (Google Docs)
Some considered thoughts from the United Church of Christ, National Setting, 2030 clergy network, Cohort, and digital pastors.

FEMA Help with Funeral Costs: Basic FEMA Funeral Assistance FlyerDetailed FEMA Funeral Assistance Flyer

Flier / bulletin insert: Coronavirus and the Church (PDF)
From UCC Disaster Ministries

Pandemic Preparations Checklist  (PDF)
By the Disaster Resource and Response Team, Southern New England Conference, UCC.

CDC Guide to Cleaning
Cleaning and disinfection recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control

Ideas for Home Church Groups (PDF)
From Wellesley (Mass.) Congregational Church, UCC

Memo on Communion Precautions  (PDF)
By the Metro Boston Hope District of the New England Conference, United Methodist Church

A Concise Coronavirus Guide for Churches
Free Coronavirus guide for churches from Christianity Today
 

Guidance for Congregations (PDF)
Presbyterian Disaster Assistance

Guidance for Churches
from the Wisconsin Council of Churches

How to Offer Worship Online

Advice on Online Worship (PDF)
From Marcia McFee of Worship Design Studio

COVID-19 Lockdown: Creating Live-streamed Worship in 3 Days
From the website Hacking Christianity

Lessons on Ministry During a Disaster

A Connecticut pastor shares his experiences
Blog Post from Matt Crebbin

Suggestions for Talking to Children

“Children are impacted by moments like these,” says the Rev. Don Remick, one of the UCC Southern New England Conference’s bridge Conference ministers. “Even if they aren’t watching the news, they’re picking it up. And they’re picking up the stress of their parents, teachers, family and classmates. You can do a lot to reduce their stress and remove their fears.” He suggests:

Resources for Talking with Kids about COVID-19
From the Washington School-Based Health Alliance, Seattle

Talking to Kids about the Coronavirus
From the Child Mind Institute

Resources for Individuals and Families
With links to tips from FEMA, the Red Cross, Mr. Rogers and others, via the UCC Southern New England Conference website

General Resources – and Separating Fact from Fiction

CDC Coronavirus Web Page
Regularly updated information and tips from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control

WHO Coronavirus Web Page
Regularly updated information and tips from the World Health Organization

A Family Doctor Helps Separate Fact from Fiction (video)
In this 5-minute video from Colorado’s Southwest Health System, Dr. Peter Lin explains how the coronavirus spreads, how to minimize transmission and who’s at risk

Faith, Common Sense and Reducing Panic (Feb. 12, 2020)
By Deborah Ringen, Transitional Minister of Health and Wellness, Southern New England Conference, UCC

Handwashing: Clean Hands Save Lives
All about clean hands, from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control

Hand Hygiene Website 
From the Henry the Hand Foundation, devoted to promoting “Four Principles of Hand Awareness”

Hand Sanitizer Recipe
How to make hand sanitizer with ingredients in the home, via Syracuse.com

Avoiding Scams

“Another danger of pandemics is people taking advantage,” says the Rev. Don Remick, one of the UCC Southern New England Conference’s bridge Conference ministers. He lists these possible scams to watch out for:

  • Phishing emails from cyber-criminals posing as reputed organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or the World Health Organization (WHO). These emails contain a malicious file attachment that claims to be useful information about coronavirus. When the unsuspecting victim opens the attachment, malware is installed on their PC.
  • Phishing emails prompting the recipient to enter their login credentials into a web site to access information about coronavirus. Once entered, the login credentials are stolen by the threat actors.
  • Fraudulent charities that use legitimate social media sites to ask for donations for charitable causes related to the virus.
  • Non-Delivery Frauds – fraudulent advertisements for medical supplies such as medical masks, gloves, disinfectants, etc. The fraudulent company will ask for upfront payment and will never deliver the ordered products. Be cautious when ordering such supplies online.

COVID-19 Conference and Partner Web Resources

COVID-19 Resources | World Council of Churches (oikoumene.org)

Suggested Phased Reopening 5-1-20.docx (squarespace.com)  UCC Southwest Conference.

COVID-19 Response – Massachusetts Council of Churches (masscouncilofchurches.org)

Heartland Conference UCC (heartlanducc.org)

Responding to COVID-19: Resources for Churches – Northern California Nevada Conference (ncncucc.org)

Covid-19 Resources – United Church of Christ Minnesota Conference (uccmn.org)    New COVID-19 Guidelines Published for Conference-Sponsored Activities – United Church of Christ Minnesota Conference (uccmn.org)

COVID-19 Resources | Southeast Conference, United Church of Christ (secucc.org)

From the Penn Central Conference UCC to churches (March 11, 2020)

COVID-19 Resources – Penn Central Conference United Church of Christ (pccucc.org)

Alternate Worship Services — PNCUCC                                                                                                                                                

New England Conference: COVID-19 Information and Resources (neumc.org)

Rev. Traci Blackmon, UCC Associate General Minister (Feb. 28, 2020)