United Church of Christ

Conference Ministers urge caution, prayer as churches create processes to discern when to reopen

United Church of Christ regional leaders have begun releasing recommendations to local churches about eventually reopening, as states around the country phase in a return to activities shuttered by the novel coronavirus.

Empty R.I. churchThese pandemic protocols offer congregations guidelines for deciding about when to return to in-person gatherings as areas of the U.S. gradually come out from under stay-at-home orders.

The Council of Conference Ministers, a leadership team from among the executive ministers of the denomination's 36 Conferences, today joined the UCC national officers – General Minister and President John Dorhauer, Justice and Local Church Ministries Associate General Minister Traci Blackmon and Wider Church Ministries Associate General Minister Karen Georgia Thompson – in a pastoral letter that "sends a clear and strong message to congregations who are considering going back to meeting in person: We urge you to wait until ALL safety concerns have been addressed."

In their individual messages to local churches in their Conferences, the Conference Ministers offer pastoral advice, urge caution and offer a variety of links and resources that they encourage congregations to use in developing their own decision-making processes.

Here are some of the messages from Conference leaders to their churches:

Central Atlantic Conference: "A Pastoral Letter"

Central Pacific Conference: "Where Do We Go from Here?"

Hawaii Conference: "Recommendations for Reopening Church Facilities"

Heartland Conference: "Suggested Phases for Church In-Person Regathering"

Illinois Conference: "Suggested Phase Forward Reopening Plan for Churches"

Illinois South Conference: "Faithfully Phasing Forward"

Kansas-Oklahoma Conference: "As Congregations Prayerfully Consider Re-Opening"

Maine Conference: "A Pastoral Letter: Resuming In-Person Church"

Minnesota Conference: "About Returning to our Church Buildings"

Missouri Mid-South Conference: "Suggested Recommendations for Reopening Churches"

Montana – Northern Wyoming Conference: "Re-Opening Step by Step: A Mid-Pandemic Checklist"

New Hampshire Conference: "Things to Be Considered in Discerning When and How to Resume In-Person Worship"

New York Conference: "COVID-19 Church Reopening Guidelines"

Pacific Northwest Conference: "COVID-19 Update"

Penn Central Conference: "Phased Return to Worship"

Penn Northeast Conference: "Recommendations on When to Resume In-Person Worship"

Pennsylvania Southeast Conference: "Message from the Conference Minister"

Penn West Conference: "An Update from our Conference Minister"

Rocky Mountain Conference: "Statement Regarding Reopening Our Churches"

Southeast Conference: "Making Decisions and Planning for Reopening Churches"

Southern New England Conference: "Guidance for Phasing Forward to In-Person Gatherings"

Southwest Conference: "Suggested Phased Plan for Resuming In-Person Gatherings"”

Tri-Conference Ministry (Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota): "COVID-19 Update from Your Conference Minister"

Vermont Conference: "Statement Regarding Considerations for Reopening"

Wisconsin Conference: "Coronavirus Update"

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