Concerning COVID-19 and the Moravian Church

Updated 3/26/2020

For additional information and resources on the church’s response to COVID-19, click here.

The 2019-2020 coronavirus outbreak is a rapidly evolving situation. While efforts are underway on many levels to help prevent the spread of the virus across the globe, acting on a local level — including in our churches — is our best bet in helping to keep our communities well.

During this uncertain time, leadership in both the Northern and Southern Provinces have been sharing information and ideas for ministry directly with pastors and church boards, who in turn are working to determine what’s best for their congregations. 

Both Provinces are recommending that congregations refrain from holding all worship and fellowship gatherings for the near future, which will likely include Holy Week and Easter. As services and events are cancelled, be sure you are in contact with your church. Visit their website, check their Facebook page, read their e-mail or letters and watch bulletins and newsletters for information about how your church is prepared for potential effects of this health crisis.

On Wednesday, March 18, Moravian bishops in the Northern and Southern Province shared a pastoral letter with the church. In it, the bishops wrote, “We are confident that today Jesus’ heart of compassion is extended towards a world that is indeed a worried one. We are part of a health crisis that is touching all parts of our Moravian world, so we extend our prayers in all directions and invite you to humbly pray in like manner.” To read the entire letter, click here.

On Thursday, March 19, the Board of World Mission announced grants of up to $200 (US) from its Moravian Disaster Response funds to Northern and Southern Province congregations to help defray the costs of critical outreach efforts and ministries.  For more information, click here.

 

Update 3/26/2020

A WORD FROM THE PROVINCIAL ELDERS’ CONFERENCE, Moravian Church Southern Povince

The social distancing requirements that medical experts and civil authorities see as necessary to limit the spread and impact of COVID-19 are completely counter to how we Moravians and most other faith communities function.  They disrupt the usual familiar ways we have of “being church.”  Yet we are told they are essential to our – literally in a global sense – getting through the days and more likely weeks ahead.

Some have pointed out how we are being asked this Lent to fast from our usual “high touch” life together as a spiritual discipline.  We offer our abstinence from gathering as a channel of God’s grace and healing in a very real way.  And, not just for us, but for our neighbors, everyone created in God’s image.

We have to talk about and take seriously what we are being asked not to do.  As we search for and experiment with alternative ways of being church, our focus should certainly be on what we can do, rather than what we cannot.  And, on others in need and not only ourselves.

This is an opportunity to draw on our Moravian heritage of missional resilience and the capacity to figure out how to keep moving forward.

The members of the PEC are praying for church leaders and our congregations, fellowships and emerging ministries.  We also join in prayer for our families, neighbors, medical care-givers, and our communities – both near and far.

 

Worship and Devotional Opportunities

Moravian pastors and congregations are rising to the challenges brought on by COVID-19 with creative worship, devotional and contact opportunities.  In the coming weeks, we invite you to consider other ways to worship and stay connected with your congregation. 

  • Many congregations are experimenting with live-streaming worship services on Sunday, March 22 and beyond. For a list of some of the churches planning online services, click here. In addition, check with your church office to see if they will be offering any alternative worship opportunities.  And if your church is offering an online service, please share with us so we can promote it, too.
  • Moravian Church Without Walls is also hosting an online service that will be shared via Zoom on Sunday, March 22 at 11:00 a.m. EDT.  You can join this service here.
  • Visit your church’s Facebook page or other social media venues.  Many pastors are using social media to extend their ministry.
  • The Board of Cooperative Ministries has developed a wide variety of resources with ideas for churches. Learn more here.
  • Read and reflect on the Weekly Moravian Message that appears on Moravian Church Sunday bulletins, which are also available online each Sunday.
  • Visit Daily Prayers for Moravians, a weekly prayer liturgy written by Bishop Chris Giesler.
  • Use the Moravian Daily Texts, Moravian Book of Worship and your Bible in your home to create your own personal or family worship.  
  • The Interprovincial Board of Communication is collecting liturgies and hymns for use by Moravian congregations and members. Additional resources will be added as we can make them available.

 

Continued support

During this time, please remember that your congregation continues to need your financial support. Even though you may not physically be worshiping on Sunday, know that your pastor and staff are working hard to keep your church community strong. Check if your congregation has an electronic giving option, or consider mailing your contributions directly to your church office. In addition, the Moravian Ministries Foundation in America offers their Giving Portal, which provides a way for anyone to give to congregations in the U.S. or support other church ministries.

 

Office closures

At this time, the Northern Province Moravian Church Center in Bethlehem, Pa., is closed, but provincial, district, Board of World Mission and Interprovincial Board of Communication employees are working from home, are available via e-mail. and remain committed to serving you and helping you in these challenging times. Southern Province offices (PEC, Finance Office, Provincial Support Services Board and the HR Office) in Winston-Salem are also on a work from home plan through April and are available through e-mail and voicemail.

The Southern Province Board of Cooperative Ministries will continue offering services along with limited access to its resource areas.  Click here for more information.

While the Interprovincial Board of Communication office is closed, staff is still working from home.  We are also endeavoring to continue shipping resources and products ordered through our online store, but orders may be delayed.

 

Staying healthy

On a personal level, follow the advice shared broadly by the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization:

  • If you’re sick, stay home and avoid contact with others. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance. Follow the directions of your local health authority.
  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water. Many sources recommend washing at least 20 seconds (long enough to sing a verse of “Jesus Makes My Heart Rejoice!”). Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if washing facilities aren’t available.
  • Maintain “social distancing” – stay at least six feet from someone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, as this is a prime way for the virus to get from your hands into your body.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and throw the used tissue away. If you don’t have a tissue available, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve.
  • Stay up on the latest information on what to do if an outbreak occurs in your area from the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization and your state or local health departments.

 

Many of our full communion partners have information on how they are dealing with this health crisis, with ideas that may work in your congregation. Check out additional information from the Episcopal Church, United Methodist Church and Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

And finally, if you have additional suggestions, please share them with us at [email protected].

 Updated 3/23/20