The state of Ohio will begin emerging from under a stay-at-home order on Friday, May 1. But the United Church of Christ national staff will continue its home deployment until at least June 1.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced today he plans to use the month of May to phase in a return to work, allowing some businesses to reopen. UCC General Minister and President John Dorhauer said that as the state plan rolls out, the National Setting will continue operating under work-at-home orders until at least the first week of June, at which time the executive leadership will evaluate whether or not it is safe to return to the building.
“When a return to the building is authorized, it will be done in scheduled phases,” Dorhauer said in an email to staff. “We are intentionally going to do a soft open, in which employees who are in the most need of returning will do so with various accommodations: social distancing, masks, temperatures recorded, etc. The HR department will make it clear before anyone is allowed in the building what those accommodations are.”
And no matter what the timeline for return to the Church House, the UCC executive leadership will be offering staff members transition time to secure care for family members they are responsible for. Dorhauer stressed that no one caring for children or others in an at-risk category will be required to return to the building.
In this time of continued uncertainty, the National Staff continues its work to offer churches resources of communal support through the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Office of Philanthropy, Technology, Identity and Communication (OPTIC) has created Social Seeds, free social media posts with images and videos that churches can download for use in their digital ministry. Get it here.
The Local Church Ministries Faith Education, Innovation and Formation team is hosting two webinar series, with weekly Thursday and occasional Tuesday offerings. The webinars are available through Zoom and open to UCC members and congregations. Thursdays for the Soul webinars focus on the spirituality and care of people. Tuesdays for Nurture are occasional Tuesday webinars that offer educational resources for people of faith. On April 28, the subject is Our Faith, Our Vote — making your vote count in the time of COVID-19. Registration information can be found here.
Past webinars can be accessed here.
The church will present an Interfaith Day of Prayer on Facebook on May 7, with prayers shared every hour.
Global Ministries, the common overseas ministry of UCC Wider Church Ministries, and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), has been hosting COVID-19 Facebook Live updates from Area Executives, with information about how partners around the world are experiencing and responding to the pandemic. The Tuesday, April 28, event can be seen on the Global Ministries Facebook page at 3:00 p.m. EST.
OPTIC has also created a basic calendar of events list, found on the UCC.org homepage, so national staff ministry teams can share individual events and make registration information accessible.
Other UCC-related national ministries are also offering updates on their work as their staffs continue to work remotely, including The Pension Boards—UCC, United Church Funds, the Insurance Board, the Cornerstone Fund and the Council for Health and Human Service Ministries.
Dorhauer has carved out time to do weekly video chats with UCC clergy and organizational leaders from around the denomination. These compelling conversations can be found here on YouTube.
“As the weeks add up and no relief from this is yet to be seen on the horizon, we all struggle to find a good balance and remain healthy in body, mind and spirit,” Dorhauer said. “I hold you all in prayer daily, giving God thanks for each and every one of you and asking God that you continue to be blessed and to function with good health and wholeness.”