Along with most other areas of life, the practice of United Methodist mission has also been disrupted due to the impact of the coronavirus. Here's a rundown of some of the fallout:
Both the Southeastern Jurisdiction UMVIM and the Northeastern Jurisdiction UMVIM
issued recommendations two weeks ago (the 10th and 12th, respectively)
that UMVIM teams follow CDC guidance, check with airlines about
cancelations, check with insurance carriers about trip insurance, and
practice proper hygiene. The NEJ UMVIM also canceled the NEJ Mission
Academy, originally scheduled for next month.
Global Ministries reported on Mar. 17 that it had moved its spring board meeting online, is working with hospitals and other health partners to prepare health systems for the virus, and is seeking to ensure the well-being of its missionaries amid the pandemic. Global Ministries also closed the Sager Brown UMCOR depot in Louisiana to visitors. This week, Global Ministries has closed its offices in Atlanta, following the stay at home order issued by Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. It announced on Mar. 27th that most mission and relief grants were put on hold because of the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Norwegian Metodistkirkens Misjonsselskap announced on the 20th that its employees were working from home and that it was working with partners on how best to respond to the pandemic. It also launched a special fundraising campaign for partners in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Zimbabwe, to support those partners' response to coronavirus.
In its March newsletter sent out on Mar. 20th, the Swiss Methodist mission agency Connexio noted that it was in close contact with its missionaries, at least one of whom was returning to Switzerland because of the pandemic.
The German WeltMission announced on the 25th that it was recalling all of its missionaries and volunteers, following guidance from the federal government. At the time of the announcement, WeltMission was still working with the German government to arrange the return of two missionaries stranded in Namibia, which had canceled all flights to Germany.
The Swiss UMC also reported on Mar. 26 on the impacts of the coronavirus on local mission effects in Eastern Europe. Some institutions have been forced to shut down, but others are continuing valiantly to serve others amidst great difficulties and shortages of resources.
In the United States as well, many local mission and ministry organizations have been facing both increased demand for their services and increased challenges in providing those services, as in this Mar. 26th report about the Urban Mission in Steubenville, OH.
These certainly will not be the last impacts the coronavirus has on mission, but nonetheless, they demonstrate the impact of the virus on not just church services, but also the mission of the church.
Updated 2:00pm CDT, Mar. 27th.