Fostering Healthy Congregations
One of the most frequently offered pieces of advice throughout our scriptures include some version of, “Be not afraid.” We are convinced that this comment appears so often because God knows us so well. God knows that we are afraid. God is not swayed by our fear, nor is God bothered by our fear. God acknowledges that to be human is to be afraid sometimes, particularly when we encounter things that are new, novel, or uncertain.
We are living in uncertain times, with the spread of COVID-19. It is understandable to feel a bit afraid right now. Let’s use that fear as energy, not panic, motivation to care deeply and carefully for one another and ourselves. This time is offering us opportunities for direct action that reflect our values of love, safety, belonging, and dignity for all in a wide variety of ways.
Below you will find online worship resources, preparedness guides, news from the UCC, information from trusted sources, videos, and more. If you or your congregation have resources and ideas to share, please send them to Aidan Spencer at email@example.com.
COVID-19 Guidance from Conference Minister Rev. Brigit Stevens and Staff
- Video statement
- Video statement with Associate Conference Ministers
- Statement on letterhead
- Shortened statement for streaming distribution
- Shortened statement for printing
Ministers’ Moments: A Space for Authentic Conversation About Ministry
Are you an actively serving authorized minister or lay pastor? On Tuesdays at noon CT you can join a Zoom call to connect with your Ministerial Staff and fellow clergy. These are public, non-confidential conversations for our active church leaders to check in and hold each other in a peaceful space, ask questions, and pray together in the midst of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. The conversation may focus on a certain topic as determined by the people present.
Clergy Coffee Hour
A program partnered with Ministers’ Moments, Clergy Coffee Hour is a time for clergy in our Conferences to connect and visit via Zoom on Thursdays at noon CT. Sessions will be hosted by Rev. Kate West, Rev. Les Parmenter, and Rev. Mark Lee. All Clergy in our Conferences are welcome to join the Zoom call.
Resources for Churches and Communities During the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Pandemic
Iowa UCC Churches who Stream Services
Iowa Churches that Stream:
- Belmond UCC in Belmond, IA (visit page for videos)
- Congregational UCC in Iowa City, IA (Sunday – 10:15)
- Edwards UCC in Davenport, IA (Sunday – 10:15am)
- Faith UCC in Davenport, IA (visit page for videos)
- First Congregational Red Oak in Red Oak, IA (Sunday – noon)
- First Congregational UCC in DeWitt, IA (Sunday – 9:30am)
- First Congregational UCC in Waterloo, IA (Wednesday – 7:00pm and Sunday – 10:30am)
- First UCC in Tipton, IA (Sunday – 10:00am)
- Mayflower Congregational UCC (Sunday – 10:30am, see page for special services)
- Plymouth Church in Des Moines, IA (visit page for videos)
- Schleswig UCC in in Schleswig, IA (Sunday – 10:00am on Facebook/Youtube and the radio)
- Shenandoah Congregational UCC in Shenandoah, IA (Sunday – 10:00am)
- St. John’s UCC in Clarence, IA (Sunday – 9:30am)
- St. Paul UCC in Kahoka, IA (visit page for videos)
- St. Paul’s UCC in Madrid, IA (visit page for service and activity schedule)
- Thomas County Parish in Nebraska (Sunday – 10:30a.m.)
- Zion UCC in Burlington, IA (visit page for service times)
Nebraska UCC Churches who Stream Services
Nebraska Churches that Stream:
- Arlington Community Church in Arlington, NE (visit page for videos)
- Burwell First Congregational UCC in Burwell, NE (Sunday – 10:30am)
- Cortland United Church in Cortland, NE (visit page for service and activity schedule)
- Countryside Community Church in Omaha, NE (Sunday – 10:00am)
- First Central Congregational UCC in Omaha, NE (Sunday – 10:30am)
- First Congregational church in Fremont, NE (Sunday – 10:30am)
- First Plymouth Church in Lincoln, NE (visit page for service times – TV, streaming, and radio)
- St. Luke’s UCC in Columbus, NE (visit page for videos)
- St. Paul’s UCC in Maple Grove, NE (Sunday – 9:00am)
- Northeast UCC in Lincoln, NE (visit page for videos)
- Northwest Hills Church UCC in Omaha, NE (Sunday – 9:30am)
- Thomas County Parish in Nebraska (Sunday – 10:30a.m.)
- United Congregational Church in Grand Island, NE (Sunday – 10:30am)
South Dakota UCC Churches who Stream Services
South Dakota Churches that Stream:
- Brentford Congregational UCC in Brentford, SD (visit page for videos)
- Custer Community Church in Custer, SD (visit page for videos)
- First Congregational Church UCC in Sioux Falls, SD
- First Congregational UCC in Pierre, SD (visit page for videos)
- First Congregational UCC in Watertown, SD (Zoom held Sundays at 10:00am)
- Mitchell Congregational UCC in Mitchell, SD (visit page for videos)
- Redfield First Congregational UCC in Redfield, SD (visit page for videos)
- Spirit of Peace UCC in Sioux Falls, SD (visit page for videos)
General resources for churches
Resources Designed for Churches:
Moving Online: streaming, music licensing, and online donations
General Guidelines for Online and Zoom Worship:
Safe and Professional Online Communication:
Streaming Tips and Instructions:
- How to keep your Zoom meetings safe and free of “Zoom Bombing”
- Church Online Platform – free online streaming and meeting resources
- Instructions on setting up online offering through PayPal
- Creating livestreamed worship in 3 days
- How to host Zoom meetings with lots of people
Resources for Streamed Music Licensing:
Low-Tech Ministry Methods
We sent out a survey to our churches with their ideas and strategies for low-tech worship and gatherings. This document is the result of their suggestions! We will continue to update it, if you have more ideas contact Aidan Spencer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Economic and Food Supply Support
- Career tips for successful remote job interviews amid Coronavirus
- 5 tips for job searching during Coronavirus
Family and Food Pantry Resources:
- Resources from the Children’s Defense Fund (includes economic, health, and educational resources)
- South Dakota mobile food pantry
- Food Bank of Iowa
- List of NE and IA food pantries by ZIP code
- Resources for people inpacted by COVID-19 in Nebraska
Youth Ministry and Safety During COVID-19
The Insurance Board and Pension Boards
Resources from the Insurance Board:
- COVID-19 Liability Information and Resource Guide (July)
- Safe Online Conversations with our Youth
- Preparing Your Church Property After Lockdown
- Customer/Employee/Business Advisory Flyer (if working from home online is unavoidable)
Resources from the Pension Boards:
All Health Plan participants and their covered dependents have 24/7 access to virtual office consultations with U.S.-licensed physicians through Teladoc. Virtual office visits allow Plan participants to receive general medical care from the comfort of their homes, reducing the risk of exposure to germs and viruses. We encourage any Plan participant with flu-like symptoms to contact Teladoc to discuss symptoms, travel history, and recent contact with anyone who may be infected with the coronavirus.
UCC Medical Plan participants (both Non-Medicare and Medicare Supplement) are covered for coronavirus testing at 100% when recommended by a medical professional. This means copays, deductibles, and coinsurance do not apply for this testing. Plan participants can call the Highmark Member Service number on the back of their ID cards (1.866.763.9471)for more information.
UCBMA Emergency Grants
United Church Board for Ministerial Assistance (UCBMA), the philanthropic arm of the Pension Boards, offers Emergency Grants to:
- current Authorized Ministers in the United Church of Christ;
- lay employees of a UCC congregation, Association, Conference, or National Setting with a minimum of 10 years of service;
- surviving spouses/partners of the above; and
- Members in Discernment for at least a year.
Emergency grants are typically used to pay living or medical expenses arising from unforeseen circumstances that have created financial demands, and may not be used to offset personal loans, taxes, or non-medical related debt. The Grants are funded by the generosity of individuals and congregations to the Christmas Fund for the Veterans of the Cross and the Emergency Fund.
How to apply:
- If Conference staff become aware of a financial need that fits the above parameters, please contact Rev. Krista Betz, Director of Ministerial Assistance at email@example.com or 212.729.2716. Please provide the following information:
- confirmation of UCC status as defined above;
- brief description of what triggered the request for financial assistance; and
- amount of assistance requested.
- Conference staff and the Director of Ministerial Assistance together will decide on a response – including the possibility of the Conference also providing financial support if funds are available.
- If it is determined that financial support is appropriate, a check will be sent directly to the recipient except in the case of assistance to pay UCC Health Plan premiums, which will be applied directly to the invoice.
Music Resources from Amanda Udis-Kessler
Amanda Udis-Kessler is a hymnwriter and composer in Colorado Springs, CO. She is currently serving informally as composer-in-residence at Vista Grande UCC where she is a covenantal partner. She has made available several works that are specifically for virtual worship and also has about 50 scores on her hymn website which are all fully and freely available for use.
“We Are Gathered” – a text specifically about the experience of virtual worship and to be used during a virtual worship service. It is to Nettleton (Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing) so that people who are already familiar with that famous hymn can sing this pretty much immediately.
“History and Mystery”
“Now, As You Leave This Assembly Of Lovers”
“Spirit Gracious Spirit”
“Spirit of Love”
“When Jesus Set His Table”