Coronavirus response from the NWC

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7

The World Health Organization has declared the coronavirus (COVID-19) a global pandemic, and we want to encourage you and provide resources as you minister in these difficult and uncertain days. We rejoice that as Christ-followers, we do not live in fear and anxiety, yet understand the pull toward the constant 24-7 news cycle.

It is imperative that we educate ourselves, and we look to the CDC and the MN, SD, ND and WI state health departments for up-to-date guidance on best practices for social distancing and hygiene, while we remain in God’s Word for perspective on how we are to live as Christ-followers in challenging times.

We know you are making crucial, timely decisions about your worship services and ongoing ministry, and we wanted to provide some resources to help you in your decision-making.

Consider these practical tips for group gatherings:

  • Encourage people to practice social distancing by staying 3-6 feet from others, and to not shake hands or hug. Replace with a wave, peace sign or “holy elbow bump.”
  • Remind people to stay home if sick, even if they are scheduled to serve.
  • Adapt activities that cause germs to spread. For example:
    • Communion: use pre-filled individual packets of wafers and wine (juice) that you can purchase on-line
    • Offering: rather than pass a plate, have a basket at the back of the sanctuary where people can leave their offerings
    • Passing the peace: consider an elbow bump or a slight bow
    • Serving food: consider a food shelf where congregants can pick up any staples they might need.
  • Frequently clean and sanitize touchpoints, such as door handles, handrails and children’s toys
  • Hand washing with soap and water is most effective in combatting the spread of this virus. Provide signage and reminders for people to do this, and teach children to do the same.
  • If you decide to stream your service, consider CCLI licensing requirements with streaming music. You will need a streaming license. Here is a resource for taking your church online fast;  and a YouTube video for how to send audio from a mixer to an iPhone or iPad.

When we bring an attitude of calm and care to the changes forced upon our ministry, our congregation and leaders will reflect our posture.

Additional Resources

This week, the Humanitarian Disaster Institute (HDI) at Wheaton College released four new resources to help churches and church leaders prepare and respond to the coronavirus outbreak in their congregations and communities: an online resource hub; a Friday webinar series, “Preparing Your Church for Coronavirus,” kicking off Friday, March 13 at 12 p.m. CT; a new manual, “Preparing Your Church for Coronavirus (COVID-19): A Step-by-Step, Research-Informed and Faith-Based Planning Manual”; and a planning template.

All can be found online here.

The “Church Planning Template” can be found here.

Christianity Today has also produced practical resources – Coronavirus and the Church: CT’s Latest News and Advice, including a helpful downloadable guide for churches

Stay up to date on how the virus spreads and how we can work together to slow the spread.

A great article on practical action steps by Andy Crouch: Love in a time of coronavirus

Know that we are in communication with our national ECC leadership, and we are all monitoring this situation daily. You can expect to hear updates from us in the coming days and weeks regarding plans for our upcoming NWC Annual Meeting and monthly Connection gatherings. Please reach out if there are ways in which the NWC can support, encourage or resource you.

Most importantly, we encourage everyone to be praying for those living and serving on the front lines of response, particularly those in public health, medical and government leadership. Consider how this might spur you on toward love and being a good neighbor.

We find comfort in remembering the words of Psalm 46:1, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”

Grace and peace,

The Staff of the Northwest Conference