(Re) Launch Church

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Updated! (Re) Launch Study Guide 2.0  Addendum now available!

(Re) Launch Church: (Re)considering Church in a COVID-19 World

The following guidelines are written for clergy and local church leadership to address the care and preparation of the physical plant of the church.  More specifically, how churches prepare their buildings in a way that provides the safest possible space for their congregation to gather and worship in this most extraordinary time.  Prior to moving back to in-person worship, gatherings and activities, each church is asked to develop a plan that addresses the physical safety of those who use the church as well as integrate the lessons that we’ve learned as we move into the next phase of COVID-19.

As the MSC Ministry in a Time of COVID-19 Team, we designate in-person worship without precautions as a GREEN STATUS activity only for all congregations regardless of size and location.  

NOTE: Permission to begin in-person worship must be given by the Bishop’s office through each church’s District Superintendent. Your written implementation plan should address all major points of the guidelines that follow.

First, clergy and church leadership should review in detail the following statements:

Next, clergy and church leadership should review these important resources:



Stop all in-person worship and gatherings. Essential workers only are allowed in the church building(s). This is the "Stay in Love with God" time and stay-home phase of our ministry. Right now it is best to err on the side of caution, even as directives are eased from the various Mountain Sky Governors. Details related to the Red Status are provided at the end of this section. As of this publishing, the Mountain Sky Conference is operating within the Red Status through January 2021.  


Cautionary Return. It is anticipated this will cover a number of months. As the MSC, we want to “Do Good” as restrictions are lifted. This may mean a gradual return to gatherings, depending on the circumstances. Yellow Status begins when county state and local officials have reported a consistent testing positivity rate less than or equal to 4 percent.


In-person gatherings are the “Do No Harm” phase that can be initiated when the virus is contained for a significant amount of time. Permission will be granted to communities of faith to return to full activity and in-person gatherings. This will be in place only as church leadership is confident in the care of their community of faith. Green Status for all activities will likely be dependent on a testing protocol for asymptomatic COVID-19 carriers, antibody testing, therapeutic drug therapies, aggressively caring for those who have contracted COVID-19, and approval and availability of a COVID-19 vaccine. State and local officials must have successfully met the criteria of Yellow Status, and there must be evidence through case reporting, testing, and community monitoring that there is no evidence of a rebound.

The Mountain Sky Conference of The United Methodist Church recognizes returning to full participation will be based on the oversight of the Bishop, Crisis Response Team, state, and national guidelines, as well as the seasonal movement of the virus. It is expected that clergy and church leadership will read through this document together allowing it to guide the response of the local faith community.

Dear Clergy and Lay Leaders of the Mountain Sky Conference,

We greet you in the love of our Savior Jesus Christ! Our hope is to give you some updated directions amid the continued COVID pandemic and chaos. Thank you for your innovation and creativity during this challenging time. We, and your parishioners, appreciate all you are doing amidst the constraints and anxiety of this moment.

As we have lived through this pandemic, a few things have become clear. The COVID19 virus is primarily passed through droplets in the air. So, anything we can do to limit the transfer of these droplets is important. Wearing masks, social distancing, good hand hygiene, and diligent cleaning of frequently touched surfaces continue to be our best defenses. These are non-negotiable for us as people called to do no harm and offer hope for the world. Minimizing room capacity and limiting time together inside are also important considerations.

A summary of CDC guidelines for gatherings can be found online. 

Each of our communities and churches is unique. There are many metrics for determining when we should continue or suspend in-person worship and gatherings: new cases, positivity rate, hospitalizations, case load, 7-day trend, community spread. We recognize these metrics are an ever-moving target for decision making. We encourage you to consult your county public health department and your state guidelines as you consider your COVID19 protocols. Keep in mind the appointed clergy have final authority regarding worship in the local church per the Book of Discipline 2533. Please take the authority granted you by the Bishop to both care for your community’s soul and their physical health.

The MSC Ministry in a Time of COVID-19 Management Task Force

UPDATED!Download the (Re) Launch Church 2.0 Addendum

Download the (Re) Launch Church Study Guide 2.0


Download the guidelines for outdoor worship


Download the safety guidelines for preschools


Download the supplemental grid for the (Re) Launch Guide

Click each icon below to watch the accompanying videos as you review the study guide:

1. (Re) Launch Church: Introduction

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2. (Re) Launch Church: Flight Plan & Design

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3. (Re) Launch Church: Pre-Flight Preparation

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4. (Re) Launch Church: Liftoff

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5. (Re) Launch Church: Flight

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6. (Re) Launch Church: Conclusions

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Find more information on the Coronavirus News and Resources page online