COVID-19 News & Announcements

  • WI UM Conference COVID-19 Task Team Appointed

    Bishop Hee-Soo Jung announces the formation of a Conference COVID-19 Task Team to ensure that the Wisconsin Annual Conference has an appropriate Pandemic Emergency Response Plan, to include appropriate checklists and communications so that Wisconsin United Methodists can carry out their mission faithfully under the constraints presented by the spread of the Novel Corona Virus.

  • Safer at Home and the WI UM Church

    Governor Tony Evers and Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) Secretary-designee Andrea Palm issued a Safer at Home Order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, effective at 8 am on Wednesday, March 25. This order will remain in effect until 8 am on Friday, April 24 or until a superseding order is issued. 

    Bishop Jung affirms these interpretations in the light of the Governor’s orders:

    • The Wisconsin Conference Sun Prairie Center is closed to visitors but the work of the staff continues. The majority of the staff will be working remotely. You should expect responses by telephone and email. The district offices are following the same pattern.
    • Our local churches are closed to large group gatherings to honor Gov. Evers continued restriction of gatherings to less than 10 people with appropriate social distancing. As you are able, please continue your important ministry to the most vulnerable in your context. As you minister to the hungry, homeless and indigent, please follow the clear guidelines that keep you and others safe.
    • If you are doing online services from your church building, please feel free to continue them with a maximum of 9 people involved and great care for the health and safety of all. There should be no gathering of more than 9 people in our churches at any time. In every instance please adhere to the healthy guidelines as prescribed by the Centers of Disease Control and Wisconsin Department of Health such as maintaining social distance of at least 6 feet, handwashing, use of hand sanitizer, etc.
    • We are in this together. Should you have any questions, please contact the Conference Center or your district office. Please expect and extend grace, and practice kindness  as we navigate our way through these times.
  • General Conference to Move to 2021

    The Minneapolis Convention Center. Photo by Dan Anderson

    Subsequent to the announcement by the Executive Committee of the Commission on the General Conference that the 2020 General Conference will be postponed, the full Commission met March 21, 2020 to determine next steps to take in setting a new date.

    After hearing recommendations from Sara Hotchkiss, Business Manager of the General Conference, and discussion of possible alternatives, the Commission made a determination that the General Conference will not meet in 2020 as originally planned and elected to work toward setting a date in 2021.

    In giving direction for next steps, the Commission resolved that holding the event in Minneapolis is a high priority and authorized the business manager to pursue negotiations regarding other dates available at the Minneapolis Convention Center in 2021.

    Read press release

  • Group Looking at New General Conference Dates

    General Conference organizers are exploring potential new dates for The United Methodist Church’s top legislative assembly after the coronavirus pandemic forced postponement. “Details are not yet being released because the business manager is negotiating arrangements,” the Rev. Gary George, the secretary of the Commission on the General Conference, said at the conclusion of the group’s meeting. George said the group would share more information March 23. Read UM News story

  • Church Leaders Postpone 2020 General Conference

    With the global impact of the coronavirus, General Conference organizers decided they have no choice but to postpone the denomination's legislative assembly. The venue that was scheduled to host is canceling large events through the first five days of the big meeting.
    Read press release
    Read UM News story

  • Delegation Cancels Remaining Information Exchange Sessions

    Due to concerns over COVID-19, the Wisconsin Delegation has canceled all remaining information exchange sessions scheduled for March and April.  These may be rescheduled in the future when the situation is more settled.  Recordings of several of the sessions already held will be available at www.WisconsinUMC.org/GeneralConference

    Lisa King
    Wisconsin Delegation Chair

  • A Word from Bishop Jung About the Coronavirus Pandemic

    And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone,

    Matthew 14:23

    My beloved family in Christ across Wisconsin, know that I am praying for you.  We are going through an extraordinary time.  It is a time of anxiety and worry, a time of fear and uncertainty, and a time of testing for our faith.  But our God is good, our God is with us, and our God loves us.

    In the best of times, we are stronger together.  It is right and good that we worship together, that we pray together, study together, work together, and minister together.  But there are times such as these where we are most faithful when we care for each other from a distance.  Following the example of Jesus, this Lenten time may be one where we must withdraw and be by ourselves more.  We are in a time when it is inadvisable to gather together for worship.  In fact, we are strongly suggesting that we refrain from publicly open worship services minimally until April 5, Palm Sunday.  It may mean we need to suspend worship this year through Easter.  While this is difficult and painful, it is also a glorious opportunity to show our creativity and commitment.  The White House, the Center for Disease Control, our state government and health care officials are asking that we not gather in groups larger than ten members for at least the next two weeks.  Some reports are saying we shouldn’t gather in groups of 50 or more for at least eight weeks.  Regardless the parameters of the advice, we are in a time of necessary voluntary separation and face-to-face isolation.

    But this in no way means we cannot be in ministry with each other.  We are blessed with phones, email, computers, tablets, and multiple technologies to allow communication across distance.  We can form prayer chains.  We can create online devotion and worship circles.  We can keep in contact with the most vulnerable in our faith communities and develop healthy and faithful ways to meet their needs and offer them care.  We can join streaming worship services broadcast without congregations physically present, and we can engage in family devotions and worship.  This is indeed a challenging time, but God is with us right where we are.  This is a critical time for us to care as much about as many as we possibly can!  We are in ministry through our prayers, our phone calls, our emails, and our video chats.  Congregational leaders can still connect for ministry meetings in a variety of ways.  It is too easy to be swept away by all we cannot do; let us make a faith commitment to focus on what we CAN do.  Please continue to support the ministry of your congregation in whatever possible ways you can.

    The Wisconsin Conference is cancelling or postponing all in person meetings, gatherings and events for a minimum of the next four weeks.  We will announce further cancellations and postponements, if needed.  We will regularly post updates and resources on our website to help local congregations navigate this difficult time, and to support you in your ministry.  Conference and district staff can help you set up Zoom video meetings if that would be helpful.  We will do all in our power to help you do effective ministry in the weeks to come.

    I want you all to know how much I appreciate your leadership and your faithfulness in this pandemic time.  It is scary, especially for the most vulnerable among us.  There are no clear or easy answers.  We do not know how long we must take exceptional precautions.  We do not know when the dangers will pass.  What we do know is that we have God, we have each other, and we have a faith that will keep us strong through even the greatest challenges.

    Grace and Peace,

    Bishop Hee-Soo Jung

  • Coronavirus (COVID-19) - Resources and Guidelines

    Psalm 139:7-12
    Where can I go from your spirit?
       Or where can I flee from your presence?
    If I ascend to heaven, you are there;
       if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
    If I take the wings of the morning
       and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
    even there your hand shall lead me,
       and your right hand shall hold me fast.
    If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
       and the light around me become night,”
    even the darkness is not dark to you;
       the night is as bright as the day,
          for darkness is as light to you.

    In this season of Lent, our spiritual journey has become more intense with all the news of the Coronavirus (COVID 19) swirling around us. Our scripture reminds us that God is present with us and among us, no matter where we are, no matter what happens in our lives – in our greatest celebrations and the in our most difficult challenges. As we live through this unsettling time of facing the unknowns of the virus, let us remember to keep our faith in God’s presence central in our daily spiritual practices. Let us remember to live each day with the grace and healing care alive in our self-care and in our actions. Let us pray for all whose lives are affected by the virus. Let us also find ways to reach out to people in our communities with care in whatever ways we can – in care for all the vulnerable people and the people made more vulnerable due to the repercussions of this virus.

    As United Methodists, we are connectional. We can witness to our faith and support one another even while we are being asked to practice social distancing. While gatherings are being cancelled, we can still love God and our neighbors in new and creative ways.

    We can still connect with each other.

    This article contains many resources:

    1. Worship and Gathering Resources and Ideas: How to create online worship, post sermons on Facebook or YouTube and ideas for other ways to stay connected as a church, along with a list of churches who do livestream so, if you cannot, you can refer your members to participate in worship from home;
    2. Offering and Finance Resources: Our Finance office is offering a way to securely collect donations if you do not have capability to do that through your own online giving;
    3. Public Resources and Guidelines: Links where you can find technical and scientific information to assist your congregation in its responses;
    4. Stay Connected with One Another: A way to post your church’s recommendations and notifications on our Conference website, so we can share and learn from each other.