Coronavirus (COVID-19) Preparedness

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There now are reported cases of the Coronavirus (COVID19) in Tennessee. It’s important to be prepared, especially as we gather in groups for meetings and worship. We want to continue to show God’s love and care, and it is vital that we do so in a way that protects our health and the health of those around us.

Bishop McAlilly has some helpful words to share with everyone in the video below. “I want you to know that we are thinking about you,” Bishop McAlilly said in his statement, “and the implications of what this virus might mean to us in our faith communities and our congregations across the Tennessee and Memphis conferences.”

March Updates

Churches with online worship  updated frequently

Holy Week and Easter Ideas 

From the Bishop’s Blog


Please stay up to date on recommendations from the CDC and from state health officials.

Below are some helpful suggestions to consider from a variety of sources.

Considerations for Church Leadership

Individual Practices

  • Wash your hands often, especially after handling material that many people have touched.
  • Limit physical contact as much as possible. Refrain from hugs and handshakes and emphasize your personal bubble.
  • Consider not traveling long distances, especially internationally.
  • Use disinfectant wipes liberally, especially in public spaces.
  • Seek medical care as soon as symptoms of illness occur.
  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • While the CDC does not suggest wearing a face mask for those who are well, it may prevent those who are sick from spreading the illness.
  • Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. If you have to cough, cough into your bent elbow.

Additional Resources & Articles

Resources for Children


Churches using hymns or other copyrighted music in their online worship services must have a license to do so – just the same as is required for printed copies of protected music. Several services offer streaming licenses, ranging in price from around $100 for churches with attendance in the 1-25 range, to near $600 for churches with up to 1,100 in attendance. Here are links to the three prominent licensing companies’ tools:

To help churches in this period of coronavirus challenges, here are some special offers and prices:

The Coronavirus, the Elderly, and the Church

by Dr. Richard H. Gentzler, Jr., director, ENCORE Ministry

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE, March 5—How can churches get ahead of this public health crisis in light of increasing reluctance of people to gather in groups of any size?

This question was posed by my friend, Dr. Richard Bergstrom, in his recent newsletter article “I’m thinking about giving up church for Lent”. Bergstrom is president of ChurchHealth, a non-profit organization focused on renewal, coaching, and church consulting (

With increasing numbers of cases of coronavirus and the vulnerability of many, especially among the elderly and young children, it behooves church leaders to rethink how we worship and gather together and to begin cultivating community in creative ways.

In Bergstrom’s newsletter, he makes the following suggestions:

  • Encourage people to stay home if they or a family member is sick with symptoms resembling the flu or coronavirus.
  • Thoroughly clean and disinfect your church facility regularly — including pews, hymnals, Bibles, etc.
  • Provide hand sanitizing stations around the church.
  • Discontinue traditional practices around Communion that involve people passing a Communion server or sharing the same cup during the Lord’s Supper. Find alternatives or forego Communion altogether until the crisis is past.
  • Offer options for online giving or place offering baskets in the back of the church rather than passing the plate from pew to pew.
  • Allow staff to work remotely when possible. With computers and internet connectivity certain types of work can be accomplished almost anywhere.
  • Consider alternatives for face-to-face meetings and appointments. Zoom technology allows for meetings to be held online. Skype or FaceTime can be a good alternative for appointments or even personal counseling or coaching.
  • Thoroughly disinfect nursery and children’s areas. Provide alternatives for children’s ministry other than live weekend services.
  • Don’t wait for the latest technology to offer streaming services. Facebook Live allows even those with modest resources to broadcast services. One church announced on its website is was broadcasting services on Facebook Live starting March 1.

To these suggestions by Bergstrom, I would add at least two others:

  • Refrain from Passing of the Peace during worship.
  • Refrain from shaking hands before, during, and after worship service and other times people come together in the church and greet one another.

What other steps can your church take to help members stay healthy during the coronavirus crisis? What are ways you and your congregation are being creative in providing for the health and well-being of your members and community?

Recognizing the vulnerability of young children and elderly during this crisis, church leaders can take the lead in providing for the well-being of church members in helping them stay healthy. Don’t procrastinate. Talk with your members. Be proactive and come up with solutions that work best for your faith community.

Dr. Richard H. Gentzler, Jr., is director of ENCORE Ministry. Under his direction, ENCORE Ministry provides training and support, resources, and networking opportunities to equip church leaders in the Tennessee Conference of The United Methodist Church for intentional ministry by, with, and for midlife and mature adults.