Iowa Conference cancels events for March and April due to COVID-19

Iowa Conference cancels events for March and April due to COVID-19

March 12, 2020

DES MOINES, IA (March 12, 2020) – With fourteen cases of COVID-19 reported by the Iowa Department of Public Health (as of March 11) and an additional 126 being monitored, the Iowa Annual Conference is canceling or postponing all upcoming events for the months of March and April 2020. The evolving situation is being closely monitored and information will be updated frequently. 

“This is an extremely difficult decision,” said Bishop Laurie Haller. “Nevertheless, our concern is first and foremost for the health and wellbeing of the people of the Iowa Conference and others with whom they come into contact. We understand that there may be some disappointment that long-planned events will not take place as scheduled. However, we want to do all that we can to ensure the well-being of all, especially those who may be the most at-risk.”   

Pre-Annual Conference Orientation/District Conferences and other events to be canceled 

The pre-Annual Conference orientation and District Conferences, beginning April 16 and concluding April 26, will not take place. Details about electronic text and multimedia explanatory resources will be shared as soon as possible. Information about decisions that will need to be made by the districts will be forthcoming from the Superintendents. 

Additional Conference-wide events will not take place as planned. (Watch for announcements of new dates.) 

  • March 24 and 25 – The Orders and Fellowship, “Rebuilding the Connection,” featuring presentations by Rev. Dr. Gregory L. Jones. (This will be rescheduled for October 19 and 20, 2020.) 
  • April 4 – Laity Day with the Bishop 
  • April 15 – Retiree Seminar 
  • April 25 and 26 – School for Lay Ministry 

Meetings of agencies, boards, and committees scheduled to be held in the Conference Center during the March – April timeframe will be held electronically or re-calendared. (Assistance to arrange virtual meetings will be provided to group leadership.) 

Adjustments to the arrangements for events taking place in the Districts will be made by the sponsors/leaders of those gatherings 

Best practices suggestions and resources for local churches 

Local church lay and clergy leadership will be making decisions about services and meetings set to be held in their congregations. Leaders are urged to consult the Iowa Department of Public Health website as well as the website for their own county health department. 

Here are some basic steps to resist illness offered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: 

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice). If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.  
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.  
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.  
  • Stay home when you are sick.  
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing. If you use a tissue, throw it in the trash, then wash or sanitize your hands.  
  • Routinely clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces. 

Hamden Plains United Methodist Church (Connecticut) has developed, in cooperation with Yale University School of Medicine, a suggested series of best practices relating to Holy Communion, Fellowship Time, Greeters and Ushers, Passing the Peace, and Use of Technology.    

Click here for resources and links from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization, Iowa Department of Public Health, United Methodist Communications, UMCOR, Discipleship Resources, the Episcopal Church and the United Church of Christ.   

Consider livestreaming worship services, using digital bulletins on cell phones and tablets, in worship services, or YouVersion Events through the Bible App

Continued financial support is essential to continue the ministries and missions of local faith communities. Electronic giving options available to congregations include:  TithelyGivelifyPushpayMobileCauseVancoVenmo, or Stripe

Bishop Laurie’s Prayer Request 

“May we all be in prayer for persons across Iowa and beyond who have been affected by the COVID-19 virus, for medical professionals who are providing care, and for those who are working toward a vaccine. In these days of heightened anxiety and uncertainty, may we experience the blessing of ‘peace that passes all understanding.’ And if we are apart, following suggested health guidelines, let’s find new ways to stay together as the caring, compassionate community of Jesus Christ.”