Updated March 31, 2020 12:51 p.m. ET

Newly added resources in red.
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
—Psalm 27:1

Along with our brothers and sisters all around the world, we’re now coming to terms with the “new normal” brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. It is our hope and goal to equip churches and worshipers with useful information and resources during these trying times. Please check back often for updated information. If you have ideas or resources that might be of interest to the wider church, we invite you to email them to us at connected@pcusa.org.

1. Livestreaming and Online Worship Resources for Congregations

There are several things to consider if you’d like to arrange digital worship for the first time, including technology, platforms and even legalities (such as music copyright laws) – plus how amenable your members would be to this kind of worship. Here are some PC(USA) and ecumenical resources to help you:

2. Digital Worship Services for Members — Listings and Resources

If you’re looking to participate in a scheduled service, there are many options available to you.

3. Worship and Sacramental Celebrations

Glory to God hymnals

  • The PC(USA) Office of Theology and Worship has developed guidelines for Online Services for Holy Week and Easter 2020, including best practices for live-streaming in Holy Week; simple outlines for online services; creative ideas for Palm/Passion Sunday, Holy Week, and the Resurrection of the Lord (Easter Sunday); and musical suggestions in the public domain. An ecumenical resource on Home Worship for the Three Days (Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Vigil of Easter) is also available.
  • The PC(USA) Office of Theology and Worship has provided basic, copyright-free orders of worship for the Service for the Lord’s Day for leaders and people. These are coordinated with the liturgy in the 2013 “Glory to God” hymnal (pp. 1–13), omitting the Lord’s Supper. Worshipers who have the hymnal at home may wish to follow along in the hymnal, with leaders announcing hymn and page numbers; otherwise they may download and print the people’s version of the service. These orders of worship are also coordinated with the resources found in the 2018 “Book of Common Worship.” Leaders may use or adapt those materials or may follow the leader’s version provided here.
  • Beth McCaw from Glacier Presbytery and the University of Dubuque Seminary has shared thoughtful advice for expanding worship into homes  — with attention also to the needs of those without internet access. She also provided an editable sample self-guided home worship bulletin  - March 22, 2020
  • How can leaders continue to engage the Matthew 25 vision of building congregational vitality, dismantling structural racism and eradicating systemic poverty? Pastors may wish to use or adapt the sermon suggestions for “A Year with Matthew for a Matthew 25 Church” for online services. The preaching prompts may also be used as discussion starters for online Bible study, either through a video chat or discussion thread.
  • See two recent Advisory Opinions from the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the PC(USA): Church in an Emergency/Pandemic and Communion in an Emergency/Pandemic. The PC(USA) Office of Theology and Worship has offered this supplemental statement on the two advisory opinions, enumerating theological considerations and practical options. – March 25, 2020
  • For funerals, the PC(USA) Office of Theology and Worship sought guidance from Thomas G. Long, author of “Accompany Them with Singing: The Christian Funeral” and “The Good Funeral: Death, Grief, and the Community of Care” (with Thomas Lynch), and provides the following guidelines based on his response. At the time of death, have a very small group of family accompany the body/ashes to the place of interment. Once people are gathering in public again, have a memorial service that begins with recounting the story of the earlier interment. The body of the deceased is honored and accompanied; concerns about public health are met; and there will one day be a time for a wider, public witness to the resurrection. See other useful information from the National Funeral Directors Association.
  • Original hymns during times of pandemic by Carolyn Winrey-Gilette – March 31, 2020

4. Resources for Mid Councils

  • Tricia Dykers Koenig, PC(USA) Associate for Mid Council Relations, has posted a COVID-19 Resources for Mid Councils live document with resources covering health, technology, meetings, pastoral care and mission, stewardship and finances, worship and nurture, leadership and self-care. Check back often for updated information. - Updated daily

5. Stewardship Resources

Many congregations depend upon weekly offerings for current cashflow. Look for other ways to collect the offering:

6. Documents and Helpful Information from the PC(USA) and the U.S. Government

From the PC(USA) and its agencies:

From the U.S. Government’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

Legislation:

7. Responding to Community Needs

8. Pastoral Opportunities to Stay Connected With Members and Colleagues

Zoom icon

Some ideas:

  • Children’s ministry resources, intergenerational and family ministry resources, youth and collegiate ministry resources, adult education/formation resources and more. PC(USA)’s Office of Theology, Formation & Evangelism has posted “Remote Faith Formation… For the Long Haul: A resource for faith formation ministries during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.”
  • Supporting Older Adults During COVID-19, resources from PC(USA) Office of Theology, Formation & Evangelism – March 27, 2020
  • Livestream worship — conducted on Sunday morning from an empty sanctuary except for ministry staff and perhaps a musician. See Section 1 above.
  • Post prerecorded sermons or pastoral reflections on Facebook to watch on demand or to be shared on the church’s website or by email.
  • Build “phone chains” to help people stay connected and in touch, perhaps weekly.
  • Send cards regularly to vulnerable members such as people who are seniors, home- or hospital-bound, in nursing homes, college students away from home and new parents.
  • Record daily devotional videos (or audio podcasts) to share with your congregation. A pastor in Connecticut is doing this using the Presbyterians Today Lenten Devotional. There are also services of daily prayer — such as those found in the “Book of Common Worship” or “Glory to God” hymnal, or in the PC(USA) Daily Prayer app — that are good options for the order of worship when a congregation is gathering in virtual space. The primary ingredients of such services are psalms, Scripture, and prayers of thanksgiving and intercession. A sermon or meditation may be included after the reading of Scripture.
  • Some congregations are planning drive-in Palm Sunday or Easter services. People drive to the church parking lot, and the church ministers broadcast the service using a low-power FM transmitter.
  • Congregational participation: Make use of the features of your chosen media platform to provide for congregational participation through comments, posts, likes, shares, etc.
  • Do you have a plan in case the pastor is quarantined or sick?
  • Some presbyteries are hosting virtual lunchtime get-togethers via Zoom call.
  • Check out platforms to hold essential meetings and functions via video or audio conference calls, including Zoom (free and paid plans available), GoToMeeting, Skype, FaceTime, Facebook, WhatsApp and Microsoft Teams. You might also consider sharing access with the groups that normally meet in your building.

9. Connect with God, Nature, Each Other and the Blessings that Sustain

man relaxing on lakeshore

It looks like we’re in this for the long haul. Be gentle with yourself and with others, and continue (or start) practices and simple joys that sustain your soul. Nurture your friendships and human connections. Pray daily and trust God.

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