Many of us have been challenged to meet ministry needs during the COVID 19 pandemic. These challenges have provided new opportunities to do ministry, to creatively maintain connections, to seek resources to meet emerging needs. We are now in another place of transition, that of reopening our places of worship. It is another opportunity to support and sustain faith communities. It is also a time of sifting through multiple pages of recommendations, instructions and rules. It can be overwhelming. While these lists may contain detailed information, it may be helpful to first think more globally about the shared goals of reopening church. These goals seem to fall into three categories: worship, safety, and connection.

Worship: Every faith group has some form of communal worship. It is where traditions are treasured, sacred scripture is spoken, values are reinforced, hope is shared. The pandemic stopped our coming together. Most faith communities have adapted or revised ways to offer worship, but it is not the same as coming together. It is a longing and, for some, a true necessity in living out their faith.

Safety: This may be the element that is receiving the most attention, merely because of all the new expectations and fears. No faith community wants to contribute to the spread of this or any illness. Balancing the requirements developed by health officials, faith group leaders and even insurance carriers may become burdensome. Faith community members will benefit from clear messages about what changes have been made, what individual expectations and requirements are, and how the process will work. Ideally, this is a shared responsibility. Individuals need to have enough information to make informed decisions.

Connection: We are a relational people. Faith communities thrive because of those relationships. Many refer to these connections as “family” with valid reasons. These are trusted and highly valued ties. The necessary separation and isolation of these past months have strained some connections, and strengthened others. Reopening presents an opportunity to strengthen those connections that have lagged, but also to recognize what has been positive growth, and continue to encourage those strategies.

Role of HMA: HMA will continue to provide support to promote the health of our communities. Resources about the COVID 19 response will be posted as made available. Specific information related to reopening of churches/worship spaces will be shared. Those that are specific to a faith group/denomination will be listed under Denominational Resources page. General information will be included under the main page. Additional resources are always welcomed!

Health ministers are in a unique position to be a conduit of information, to counteract fear, and to be ambassadors of hope. This is truly a moment to step out in faith.