March 19, 2020 Tom Berlin

Guiding Values During the Pandemic

Right now, your church is writing a story that will be told months and perhaps years from now about your identity, and how that was uniquely expressed during a difficult time. I have met with some very creative pastors and church leaders by Zoom lately and have come away impressed at the way churches are both doing ministry and observing the no contact health guidelines our government calls us to observe relative to the COVID-19 pandemic. Churches are using social media and other virtual platforms to lead bible studies, host worship and offer content for kids and students. They are focused on working with schools and relief organizations in their communities to care for those who might be impacted from job loss or food insecurity. In so doing, they are writing the story of their identity. They are acting on values that their members hold to be true not just about the church, but the Christian life.

At Floris UMC, our church leaders and staff agreed on three key values to guide the story we are writing at this time:

  1. Keep People Healthy
  • We will conform our practices to the latest guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control, the Virginia Health Department and the Federal Government, whichever seems most beneficial
  • Our employees are being asked to work from home; those who do need to come to our facility are expected to practice social distancing
  • Clergy will be given wide discretion regarding hospital visitation out of concern for their children and family members
  1. Create a Vital Community
  • We will hold Sunday worship weekly via livestream, and will develop other means to share daily devotions and other occasions for prayer or worship
  • Life groups will be held virtually
  • We will proactively care for our members by enlisting volunteers to call them, with a goal of contacting all active members of our church to make sure everyone has the essentials they need.
  • We will find ways for our members to offer encouragement and resources to each other.
  1. Care for the Vulnerable
  • Working with our school and community partners, we will focus on food insecurity, especially for children
  • As the health crisis for all becomes an economic crisis for some, we will find the best way to help people care for essential needs of food and shelter

Like your church, Floris UMC is doing many creative things to share the gospel, care for its community and bless the world, especially those who are in the greatest need. By establishing these values, we are all pulling on the same rope in the same direction. It is exciting to see how much creative effort is being displayed by so many to share the message of Jesus’ love and the promise of new life found in Christ.

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Tom Berlin

Rev. Tom Berlin is the Lead Pastor of Floris United Methodist Church. Tom was raised in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley and has lived in Virginia most of his life. He is a graduate of Virginia Tech and his Master of Divinity is from the Candler School of Theology at Emory University. He has co-authored three books and is the author of several small group studies. Tom and his wife Karen have four daughters.