Bishop Outlines Requirements for Reopening (5/22/20)

Posted by on May 23, 2020 in EventAnnouncement | 0 comments

We’re getting itchy!  This pandemic has kept us at home for three months and we want to return to “normal.”  Our church continues to do what the the people of God should be doing, even if we’re doing it without the use of our building.  

Bishop John Schol, the presiding bishop of our Greater NJ Annual Conference,  recently sent guidelines on what needs to happen before we can begin to use our building for public worship again.  We look forward to the day when we can safely meet together in our sanctuary, but until then, we will continue to worship using Live Stream.

GOAL:    Spread the Good News of Jesus Christ…. and ensure zero infections are spread by United Methodist activity.

Here’s Bishop Schol’s letter:

Dear GNJ Clergy, Congregational Leaders and Worshipers,

Our President has declared houses of worship essential services. We agree that our congregations are essential and that is why 99% of our congregations have continued worship, ministry and mission online while our buildings are closed.  We thank God for each of our congregations and the essential ministry you have been providing prior to and during COVID -19.

After thoughtful analysis and assessment, Greater New Jersey has committed to a goal – Spread the Good News of Jesus Christ as together we flatten the curve of COVID-19 and ensure zero infections are spread by United Methodist activity. We also have said that part of meeting this goal, particularly in opening our church buildings for worship, is that three things must occur (as outlined in detail on the GNJ website):

1- State Approval      Your Governor indicates that churches may open for worship.   The Governor of New York has said that groups of 10 may gather for worship, and the Governor of Pennsylvania has said that groups of 25 may gather for worship only in designated counties.   Pike County in Pennsylvania, where GNJ churches are located, is one of the counties where no worship is permitted. The Governor of New Jersey has indicated there may be drive-in worship and outdoor worship of 25 people if they maintain proper social distancing.

2- Congregational Plan     Your congregation develops a plan that includes addressing the eight health and safety issues (found here) and responding to a series of questions.

3- Plan Approved and Enacted    The church council approves the plan and sets a date to open the church building or outdoor worship.

These three steps are in place for our churches in GNJ because we are experiencing a high number of cases and deaths and, most recently in some counties, continue to see the doubling and tripling of the virus.    I am grateful that the President has recognized the essential nature of our ministry, and I urge all our churches to continue their ministry as they have been since mid-March. I particularly call upon our clergy and lay leadership to lead so that you care for God’s creation and people during COVID-19. We trust your leadership and that you will ensure the safety of your people and the community.  COVID-19 may change how we do church but does not change us as the body of Christ. 

Keep the faith!


Bishop John Schol

United Methodists of Greater New Jersey 


The “curve needs to be flattened” and plans need to be finalized, but the day will come when we can meet together again.  Until then, continue to use Live Stream, Zoom, and the other tools we’ve become so familiar with.  We may not be in our building, but we can still be the church. 

For more information about our Sunday Mornings, check out the below post:

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