Wednesday, July 8, 2020

AMD statement on reopening churches

As countries around the world continue to struggle with increasing numbers of individuals being infected with coronavirus, we, the United Methodist Association of Ministers with Disabilities, call on our conference leaders to be mindful of the health concerns of our United Methodist clergy, local-licensed pastors, and lay staff members of conferences and local congregations, specifically those who may be living with a disability that makes them particularly vulnerable to this virus. Many conferences have released guidelines for conferences to begin reopening for in-person worship services as well as mission, ministry, and church events. However, many of these guidelines lack any particular advice or support for clergy or staff members who, individually, do not feel safe returning due to their own health concerns or the health of a member of their household.

We recognize that, in many cases, the decision to return to in-person meetings is subject to the discretion of the appointed clergy; however, we also recognize that many clergy feel pressure from congregation members who are eager to return to their places of worship. Many times, clergy or staff members may feel they have no choice but to acquiesce to those who desire to be back in our church buildings. We believe it is important for bishops and cabinet members to update guidelines and offer conference support for ministers who do not feel safe returning to in-person activities.

Our Social Principles state the UMC “recognizes and affirms the full humanity and personhood of individuals with mental, physical, developmental, neurological and psychological conditions or disabilities as full members of the family of God.” (BOD ¶162.I) One way our leaders can recognize this humanity is by supporting those church leaders with disabilities in their desire to stay safe and avoid the risks associated with COVID-19.

Yours in Christ,
Association of Ministers with Disabilities
Executive Team

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