In these anxious and uncertain days, as the world faces the threat of COVID-19, we remain the body of Christ, dependent on God’s grace and dependent on each other. We continue to monitor COVID-19 developments and the implications for you, our churches, and the global community. Together, as we navigate new ways of being in community, even in a time of isolation and illness, we live in the promise that Jesus is with us always.
On Reopening Churches
Ed Stetzer Interview
Dear Covenant Family,
Grace and peace to you from God our father and our Lord Jesus Christ.
During this unprecedented time of uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we as the Evangelical Covenant Church have embraced each other, our neighbors, and our communities in spiritual, tangible, and innovative ways. Never before have I been so humbled and grateful to be a Covenanter, serving alongside all of you.
As our churches consider whether to reopen their buildings in the weeks ahead, we reaffirm our desire to continue to shepherd people well and to steward resources well. We remain committed to the health and safety of all Covenanters, and the common good of our friends and neighbors.
We also recognize the significant disparity regarding the timing and allowance of public gatherings across the country. Unfortunately, many virus “hot spots” still exist and new ones may surface, and Covenant churches are located in many of these places.
As each church considers the impact of opening its doors, we ask you to prayerfully evaluate and weigh your decisions about potentially reopening. Some guiding thoughts include:
Consider the safety of your congregation and how it may be impacted by reopening. Explore how you can best care for the most vulnerable among you, including the elderly. Each church situation is unique, even varying within the same city or town. Please act in accordance with federal, state, and local guidelines and restrictions.
Develop a big picture strategy for the coming months prior to making a move to open. For example, you may plan to open in stages. Information about the latest CDC guidelines, as well as resources on details to consider before reopening can be found at covchurch.org/covid-19.
Consult your regional conference website and staff regarding recommendations and resources for your specific context.
It is important that we remember that the church is the gathered people of God—no matter how we are gathered. I know we long to be back together with our church families, but we are no less a church virtually than when we share the same physical space. While things may seem different and difficult for a while longer, we are the same church and the same family; let us continue to care for one another.
In the midst of these transitions, I ask us to remember in prayer the families and church communities who are grieving in this hour. As the national COVID-19 mortality rate rises above 100,000 lives, we know very well that within this number some of our sisters and brothers have been counted and their families have been impacted by this tragedy.
In Romans 12:15, we are called to “mourn with those that mourn.” We grieve with our Covenant family and we mourn the loss of faithful Covenanters who have gone home to be with the Lord. Please know that your Covenant family is here for you. And we are grateful for pastors and the ministry of regional conferences as they shepherd in this demanding season.
Let us continue to reach out to proclaim the good news of Jesus in this season. It has been said that crises are the cradle of innovation. The Covenant Church is a creative church. As we remain faithful to the enduring message and mission of Jesus, let us press into innovation and birth new ministry methods, as new wineskins ready to receive the new wine of the Spirit.
“‘Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,’ says the LORD, who has compassion on you.” —Isaiah 54:10
John S. Wenrich
President, Evangelical Covenant Church
Safely Returning to Worship
Reopening The Church
Humanitarian Disaster Institute
Leading Beyond the Blizzard:
Why Every Organization Is Now a Startup
The Praxis Journal
Strategies for Winter:
Redemptive Leadership in Survival Times
The Praxis Journal
Webinar: How to Lead Through the Coronavirus Crisis
ReOpening Church: Leading After COVID-19
Recommended Preventative Practices and FAQs for Faith-based and Community Leaders
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Ramping Up Digital Outreach During the Outbreak
A free platform from Life.Church
Virtual Church Bootcamp
How to Facebook Live for Church of Any Size
Instructional Video on Using Free OBS Software
First Covenant Church in Red Wing, MN
Sample Service Outline
Harbert Community Church in Harbert, MI
ECC Women Lead Amidst Crisis
Leadership in a Season of Crisis
16 Free Resources from the Global Leadership Network
Church Resources During Coronavirus Outbreak
Leadership and the Coronavirus Crisis
Podcast by Ed Stetzer
Coronavirus Resources for the Church
Humanitarian Disaster Institute
8 Ways to Lead in the New Digital Default Church
Resources for Churches Adapting to Social Isolation
Calvin Institute of Worship
Ten Guidelines for Pastoral Care During Coronavirus Outbreak
Guide for Christian Funerals During COVID-19
Massachusetts Council of Churches
LEGAL & FINANCIAL
A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting CARES Act Assistance
Vanderbloemen and Pushpay
Nonprofit Financial and Advisory Resources
Economic and Legal Ramifications of the COVID-19
Burke, Warren, MacKay & Serritella, P.C.
Response to the CARES Act
National Covenant Properties
RECURSOS DISPONIBLE EN ESPAÑOL
CDC: Detenga los Rumores
Comparta la Información sobre el COVID-19
CDC: Hoja de Hechos
Lo que necesita saber sobre la enfermedad del coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19)
CDC: Hoja de Hechos
Qué hacer si contrae la enfermedad del coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19)
Mission Priorities Resources
Be the Church
To say that the current COVID-19 crisis has changed the way we do things would contend for the understatement of the year! In the midst of it, I’m grateful that we are responding collectively together in the ways that we are—practicing social distancing, keeping connected through various social media platforms, and finding creative ways to worship, fellowship, and serve others. May we all stay safe and continue to be smart, as an invisible danger has wreaked havoc on our lives.
May we all also remember our friends, brothers and sisters, churches, and organizations with whom we partner all over the world, especially those serving in places where the lack of basic necessities for their communities has greatly intensified in the face of this crisis. We at Serve Globally want us all to stay engaged and be of genuine assistance to the most vulnerable in the world, even as we lock down ourselves.
Below are resources and avenues through which we can continue to engage our world in Prayer, Learning, Giving, and Acting. It’s time to be the Church!
Executive Minister of Serve Globally
- Tools to Help Your Church Faithfully Prepare, not Fearfully Panic
- Christianity Offers no Answers About the Coronavirus. It’s Not Supposed To. By NT Wright
- The Impact of Coronavirus on Malnutrition and the Public Health System” includes “A Christian Response” by Rev. Eugene Cho
- Stay Updated on What’s Happening in the Church around the World
AN IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT
In response to the COVID-19 virus, the Evangelical Covenant Church Executive Board made the difficult but unanimous decision on Saturday, March 28, to cancel Gather 2020, which includes our 135th Annual Meeting, the annual meeting of the Ministerium, the Covenant ordination service, as well as all accompanying meetings and celebrations. The event, which was originally scheduled for June 25-27 to be held in Phoenix, Arizona, is not being rescheduled and will not take place virtually. We are incredibly disappointed to make this announcement, and we lament the loss it causes our community. It is the first time in the history of the Covenant that an Annual Meeting has been canceled.
"I am grateful for the courage, compassion, and wisdom of the Covenant Executive Board,” said President John Wenrich, in response to the decision. “I will greatly miss being together with my sisters and brothers at Gather. In the coming weeks, we will continue to work alongside the Executive Board and leaders from throughout the Covenant Church to continue pursuing our mission and ministry."
Our Constitution and Bylaws give jurisdiction to the Covenant Executive Board to act on behalf of the Evangelical Covenant Church when the Annual Meeting is not in session, so essential business can continue in the interim until any decisions can be ratified by our next Annual Meeting at Gather 2021. As deliberations take place, other items of consideration may arise, and we will commit to sharing updates with the Church. For further questions, concerns, or information, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dear Partner in Ministry,
As our healthcare system is adjusting rapidly to respond to the threat of the COVID-19 virus, Bethany Benefit Service wants to take a moment to update you about the changes we have made and remind you of benefits that are fitting for this time.
If you believe you have contracted the virus, contact your primary care physician by phone to discuss your options for testing. Eligibility for testing differs depending on where you are located. The cost of testing will be fully covered if you have medical coverage through Bethany Benefits.
VIRTUAL MEDICAL SERVICES
Virtual retail clinic visits, virtual primary care visits, specialist virtual visits, and virtual behavioral health visits are already covered by our medical plan, and from March 13 to June 16 the $20 copay will be waived. This enhanced benefit is intended to help you engage with your health providers virtually and avoid nonessential personal contact. When making appointments with your providers, please request a virtual visit—their capabilities may or may not allow for this type of service, but it is preferred during this time while we work to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
(only available if physically located within the United States)
- 98point6 is vailable to all members enrolled in any benefit with Bethany Benefits. Members not enrolled in Bethany Benefits medical policy have a $5 copay. Services include all primary care services, including diagnosing and prescribing prescriptions and labs. Download the 98point6 app on your smart phone to start a visit.
- Teladoc, offering no-cost primary care visits, is available to members with Bethany Benefits medical coverage as their primary insurance. Mental/behavioral health and dermatology specialists are to be added by April 1, 2020. Download the Teladoc app or call at 1-800-TELADOC to start a visit.
EMOTIONAL AND MENTAL HEALTH
These are anxious times, and as you are called on to provide support, counsel, and direction in your area of ministry, Bethany Benefits is here to support you:
- Employee Assistance Program (EAP): Available to all members, the EAP toll-free number (1-800-854-1446) is staffed by licensed counselors who are eager to work with you to learn stress-relief practices, manage your anxiety, and more. When asked for your employer name, reply with the Evangelical Covenant Church. View the flyer here.
- 98point6: Approximately 8% of all 98point6 visits are related to emotional, mental, or behavioral health. 98point6 physicians can prescribe common psychiatric medications and/or modify your existing prescription if they believe a change is needed.
- Teladoc: This is the perfect time to announce a new benefit we’ve been working on! All members enrolled in Bethany Benefits medical coverage as their primary insurance will have access to Teladoc’s behavioral health and dermatology programs. View the flyer here describing the behavioral health program, which is intended to provide you with a way to form a relationship with a counselor, therapist, or psychiatrist completely by phone or video. The program will become available no later than April 1, 2020.
Even if your area is under a shelter-in-place mandate, pharmacies should remain open so you can receive your medications. It is not encouraged to stockpile medications—we all see what happened with access to toilet paper when we did this! To avoid physical contact, you can have prescriptions delivered to your home. Express Scripts is working hard to make sure deliveries are accurate and timely. Visit Express Scripts’ new Member Resource Center to learn more about prescription delivery and other news regarding COVID-19.
DIRECTOR OF FINANCE AND BENEFIT ADMINISTRATION
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF FINANCE
So do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not be dismayed, for I am your god.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.