COVID-19 Guidelines for In-Person Worship & Ministry - UPDATED 5.18.21


The CDC and Governor Cooper have issued new guidance regarding masks, social distancing, and mass gathering limits for those who have been fully vaccinated
In response, we offer these recommendations.  One size does not fit all.  Decisions appropriate for your church setting should be made by a team of shared leadership. Our vital churches are blessed with the presence of multiple generations, and regard for the vulnerable is crucial. Most services welcome children and youth, most of whom have not yet been offered a vaccine. Please bring your children’s ministry team and your youth ministry team into your decision-making processes and protocols, in addition to your Trustees. We encourage your Transition Teams to collaborate and communicate well.

  1. The Bishop and Cabinet remain committed to our biblical mandate to “love our neighbors as ourselves” and our Wesleyan call to “do no harm.” Ministry encompasses not only worship but also fellowship events, mission activities, study groups, and age-level gatherings.  The well-being of our children, youth, and vulnerable populations still needs to be considered with love and care in all areas of congregational life.  Please take into consideration those who cannot be vaccinated because of age and/or pre-existing conditions when establishing safety guidelines for your local church. 
  1. We encourage persons to be vaccinated and respect the fact that some cannot be vaccinated because they are immunocompromised. 
  1. We believe it is appropriate for local churches to follow the CDC guidance and make mask wearing optional for those who have been fully vaccinated.  Fully vaccinated is defined as being two weeks after the last dose of the vaccine. 
  1. It is also very appropriate for some churches to continue to require masks for everyone knowing that some persons are not able to be vaccinated. 
  1. Making masks optional requires trust.  Churches should consider providing caution zones where people who want to wear masks can do so. 
  1. We do encourage continuing to maintain social distance of three to six feet in between different households in indoor worship and fellowship activities. 
  1. CDC guidance also indicates that fully vaccinated persons can sing in a choral group.  However, wearing masks should be recommended for congregational singing.
  1. Food, snacks, and drinks should be served by masked and gloved individuals.  Until the vaccination percentage increases, buffet lines are discouraged.
  1. Please continue to use the NC County Alert System and County Vaccination Percentage in making decisions regarding masks, social distancing, and gathering limits.
  1. The following graphic may also be helpful in making decisions for your local church and community.


Download a copy of the updated guidelines.
Find resources for online and in-person worship and ministry during COVID-19 here.

Resources for Vital Congregations



Lewis Center for Church Leadership

Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Books

Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Serve Your Neighbor

GBHEM Leadership Resources


Living Faithfully: Human Sexuality and the United Methodist Church

Englewood Book Review

Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations

Ted Talks: The Golden Circle

Ted Talks: The Power of Vulnerability

Ted Talks: The Price of Invulnerability

Design Thinking

Meditations on the Ministry of All Christians


Be A Disciple

A Disciple’s Path; A Guide for United Methodist

Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Adult Christian Studies from the Wesley Ministry Network

Traveling Together: A Guide for Disciple Forming Congregations


Living As United Methodist Christians

Methodist Doctrine: The Essentials

Reclaiming our Wesleyan Tradition: John Wesley’s Sermons for Today

John Wesley Sermons: Anthology


Get Their Name

Evangelism & Theology in the Wesleyan Spirit

Canoeing the Mountains

Fresh Expressions

Fresh Expressions: Dinner Church

Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Reach New Disciples

Lewis Center for Church Leadership: 50 Ways to Reach People

Community: The Structure of Belonging


Institute for Emerging Issues

Congregations 4 Children


The Royce and Jane Reynolds Ministry Fund Grants

The Duke Endowment


The Appalachian District Church Vitality Team has been prayerfully seeking ways to help support you and the ministries of your local congregation during this COVID-19 pandemic. Together they have diligently researched and connected with others throughout the conference and our denomination to identify resources and offer them to you. We hope they will be helpful to you and bless you greatly in leading your churches and communities through this unprecedented time. We are very grateful to the District Vitality Team and other contributors for their great work on this resource.
This faithful team has created three documents, two of which you are receiving today. They include:

  • Family Home Worship – designed to help families establish a regular worship space within their homes as well as a time where they can worship together.
  • Tech Strategies – to help guide you in selecting effective tools and resources within your budget to best communicate in the digital world.

We believe these resources will be of great benefit to you. Also know that the District Vitality Team is available to answer any questions you might have in regards to the documents attached. If you have questions, you may email Rev. Howard Fleming at


  • Resources
Follow Jesus. Make Disciples. Transform the World.