Graves Issues Update on Worship in the Alabama-West Florida Conference

May 21, 2020

Bishop David Graves, in conjunction with the Alabama-West Florida cabinet, encourages churches to continue to hold online, outdoor and drive-in worship services through June 30, 2020.
“Thus far, we have not seen the necessary 14-day steady decline in the number of COVID-19 cases in many areas of our conference,” stated Bishop Graves. “The health and safety of anyone potentially coming into our United Methodist church buildings is of utmost importance and remains a priority to conference leadership. We all have a deep longing to return to our church campuses and to find a sense of normalcy, but we are simply not able to recommend in-person worship at this time. Remember that churches are not closed, only buildings. The leaders in our local churches have shown how to continue ministry during a pandemic by hosting online, drive-in and outdoor worship services; feeding thousands of people through food delivery programs and reaching out to neighbors in creative and meaningful ways.”
While the decision to reinstate in-person worship rests with the pastor and church leadership, the Alabama-West Florida Conference continues to recommend the following:

  1. Establish a COVID-19 task force leadership team within your local church to discuss a restart plan;
  2. Develop a written plan for your local church that can be communicated to your members to establish trust before reopening;
  3. Review the restart guidelines, released on May 12, 2020, on the conference Website to understand the necessary steps a church must take to reopen its doors;
  4. Assess your cleaning and personal protection supply inventory and discuss with your leadership team how to best acquire needed supplies to ensure the health and safety of your congregation when in-person worship does begin. Click here for supply order form

“It is critical that churches understand their responsibility during this pandemic and the unique risks associated with in-person worship,” Graves continued. “While it is ultimately up to each local church to determine their best plan of action, we have an opportunity to lead by example in how to move forward with an abundance of caution.”
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Photo provided by Orange Beach UMC