May 12, 2020
Menu of webinars, resources to help churches plan reopenings 
Cabinet to explain church reopening guidelines in webinar
Bi shop Peggy Johnson and the Eastern PA Conference Cabinet will explain Reopening Guidelines for Churches  in a Zoom webinar Tuesday evening, May 12, at 6:30 PM , to help congregations prepare to resume onsite worship and ministry at their churches. 

During the conversational-style webinar district superintendents will explain the red, yellow and green phased reopening guidelines and implementation. Conference Chancellor Matt Morley will address legal rights and restrictions, questions and considerations. Viewers may submit questions and comments by using the chat feature. 

All conference and church leaders are urged to attend or to view the recorded program later.    Please click on this link to join the webinar:     
The Password is 516815.  The Webinar ID is  969 8721 3289.
Or you can participate by telephone. Dial  +1 646 558 8656. 
CDC Reopening Guidelines 
Also, the Rev. Greg Ellis (“Deacon Greg”), a conference member and Program Manager of U.S. Disaster Response at United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), shares this information on cleaning and preparing our churches for ongoing mitigation. It’s from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) website and includes resources from FEMA and other agencies as well.

FEMA webinar: Church reopenings from pastor’s perspective
FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Administration) will also sponsor a webinar tonight, May 12, at 5:30 PM , on “on best practices for emergency planning and COVID-19 reconstitution from a faith leader's perspective.” It will be conducted by FEMA’s Region II National Preparedness Division.

The Rev. Dr. Miriam Burnett, of the Jones Tabernacle African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in Philadelphia, will talk about her experience as a medical doctor and pastor in preparing her congregation as well as the AME Church denomination during times of disaster. Learn how she plans for emergencies, including pandemics, for congregations of different sizes and locations.

We thank the Rev. Sandra L. Strauss, Director of Advocacy & Ecumenical Outreach for the Pennsylvania Council of Churches, for this information. “We are extremely grateful to the Rev. Dr. Burnett for her leadership in the faith community across our nation,” said Strauss, who also informs us of yet another webinar upcoming:

The National Council of Churches will sponsor a webinar on Thursday, May 14, at 1:30 PM, titled “What Communities Need to Know about COVID-19 and Reopening.” The interactive webinar will include representatives from the Centers for Disease Control interacting with ecumenical leaders. See the flyer and register today.
Rev. Sandra L. Strauss
Webinar maps out road to reopening
The Woodlands UMC , in Woodlands, Texas, will host a webinar, “Road to Reopening The UMC” on Wednesday, May 13, at 3 PM (ET). The hour-long panel discussion will cover “a variety of topics churches must consider as they look to worship in person again.” Panelists include the Rev. Adam Hamilton, United Methodist Church of the Resurrection, Leawood, Kan.; the Rev. Olu Brown, Impact Church, Atlanta; the Rev. Tom Berlin, Floris United Methodist Church, Herndon, Virginia; and the Revs. Ed Robb and Susan Kent from The Woodlands. 

Registrants to the event may submit questions to the panel in advance. To register visit
Churches have much to consider before reopening
UM News Service published a news story Monday titled  Churches have much to consider before reopening Joey Butler’s article includes Bishop Peggy Johnson’s encouragement to Easter PA Conference churches in her episcopal letter to “follow the guidance of their county health departments, as the state of Pennsylvania is operating on a phased reopening….” (See  A Message from Bishop Peggy Johnson about Reopening Churches

“Please continue to offer your wonderful online presence to the world that is your parish,” Bishop Johnson urged congregations not ready to reopen yet. “We can never go back to the days of in-person, onsite worship only.”

Yet, the article points out a challenge for pastors and leaders who want to continue online ministry gatherings—such as worship, Bible study and Sunday school—when they also resume face-to-face, onsite ministry. “Without additional support, scheduling both personal and virtual ministry could prove troubling to pastors who may have already been overworked and under-resourced before the pandemic,” writes Butler.

But West Ohio Conference Bishop Gregory Palmer, a Philadelphia native, says it may be necessary to prioritize and adapt ministry going forward. In his conference’s e-newsletter, he writes, “Make no mistake: We will be doing some old things in new ways, and we will not be doing some things at all.”

Finally, the article also includes a link to a popular Q & A article (April 18) that conferences and churches are using: 24 Questions Your Church Should Answer Before People Return, by Ken Braddy Jr.   

More Ministry in the Midst of Coronavirus news coming this week

Finally, check out our conference website this week to read two articles we’re working on. One article shares thoughts, feelings and experiences of pastors whose churches, in the North District’s far northwest region, are located in Gov. Tom Wolf’s yellow phase area for reopening.

The pastors were interviewed by NEWSpirit Communications on a Saturday Zoom video-chat, hosted by the Rev. Steve Morton, District Superintendent. They candidly share how they are preparing their churches to return to their campuses to have indoor and outdoor worship onsite. Several did so this past Sunday. And several others prefer to wait, out of an abundance of caution.
We called back the Rev. Kay Painter, pastor of First UMC in Mt. Carmel, today to see how Sunday’s worship went. She shared some surprising experiences and insights that we are eager to share with our readers. Look for the story on our website by Thursday, May 14.
And also look for another story we’re working on about churches that are finding ways to feed their communities, despite social distancing rules, during a time when many unemployed and under-employed persons and families would go hungry without their assistance. These churches are also finding support from friends for their efforts. Read about it on Friday, May 15. 

If your church is feeding its community by offering a food pantry, cooked meals, food deliveries, or by other means—even if it’s in partnership with other churches—please let us know. Email us by Thursday at , or send us information through our  Submit News  web page at And please, please try to send us photos!   Thanks!
Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of The United Methodist Church
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