COVID- 19 Information

As things progress we will be updating this page with any communication from our local church and from the church as a whole.


Letter From Pastor Marilyn

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in You.’ – Psalm 56:3

Greetings Members and Friends of Faith UMC,

To say that we live in an uncertain and a troubling time would probably be to minimize the way that many people feel this morning.  The news media hums and buzzes around us.  While our communities, health, government and educational institutions continue to announce decisions about potential and actual closures, it can feel like an overwhelming tidal wave of information is assailing our ears and eyes.  Many of us are becoming exhausted trying to keep up with the latest news regarding COVID-19.

Some of you may know that Governor Dewine has banned all public gatherings of over 100 people in the same space as well as closing public schools for the next three weeks.  As of yet, he has not expressly prohibited religious gatherings.  However, it seems appropriate to be cautious with all of God’s children.

Last night, our Administrative Council held an emergency meeting.  After much discussion and deliberation and taking into consideration all the latest information available to us regarding the coronavirus, we have discerned it would be better to err on the side of caution than to unintentionally put anyone’s health at risk by continuing to meet and worship during this time.  Therefore, we are suspending worship services and other church gathering for the next three weeks.  There will be no public worship on March 15, 22, and 29.  We are joining other local churches who have resolved the same.

Although this decision is disappointing for us and for many of you, we feel it is the best way that we can help to prevent the unintentional spread of this virus.  Social distancing is the most effective means of slowing the spread of the disease.  In the words of Dr. Wes Wallace, a leading public health official from North Carolina and a member of the University United Methodist Church in Chapel Hill, “For social distancing to be effective, it must begin early – so early that it may feel unneeded and silly.  If we wait until its need is obvious, it is too late.  The faith community has an important role to play in slowing the speed of disease transmission.  Large gatherings of people are a petri dish for spreading the infection.  For a  period of time, I strongly urge our religious communities to suspend traditional services and gatherings and find other ways to practice and sustain our faith.  Our witness and example may save many lives, especially the lives of those at risk in our own congregations.” *

These next three weeks are going to be difficult with schools closed and families working to figure out how things are going to be handled.  Folks are going to need compassionate listening ears and people willing to find creative ways to help even when we cannot be together.  People will get lonely and want to hear a friendly voice.  That is where each of us, as the body of Christ, can and should step in and be that compassionate ear and friendly voice.  Check in on one another, especially those you know who are at-risk or socially isolated.  Share with each other via Facebook.  Text each other frequently, email each other and call to check up on those who may not utilize social media and the internet.  Continue to pray for one another.  In this extraordinary time of uncharted waters, the Council and I ask you to help us continue to keep our community together even as we are apart.  As always, I remain available and will be in touch with people as much as possible.  Please don’t hesitate to call me (216-288-5123 cell).

We realize that many of you may have concerns. I encourage you to communicate those concerns as they arise with myself or Council members so that we can be proactive in finding solutions.  One concern that has been expressed is about church finances.  Know that we encourage everyone to continue their giving. Please feel free to mail offerings to the church.  We now have a locked mailbox for security.  You may also bring your gifts to the church.  Our Administrative Assistant, Laura Bayda, will be available during regular office hours. Bonnie Scherger, Finance Secretary, will receive and record your gifts, and make necessary bank deposits.

Know that our church leadership will evaluate the situation as things change and will communicate updates and decisions as quickly as possible.  As we pray for one another, please continue to pray for God’s guidance for our leaders, for healing mercies for those infected and the medical personnel and families caring for them, and for strength and patience for all those on the front lines of responding to this health crisis.

One thing remains certain – no matter how many things change around us, we can trust that God in Christ is with us, loving us and caring for us. May all of you continue to feel the love of our faith community and be blessed by the goodness of God’s abundant mercy and grace.


In His Service,

Pastor Marilyn Coney


*Dr. Wes Wallace is adjunct professor of emergency medication at the School of Medicine at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; medical director of State Medical Assistance Team 2, at the University of North Carolina, and medical officer in NC-1, the federal Disaster Medical Assistance Team in North Carolina.  He is a member of University UMC in Chapel Hill.

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Christ, Community, Care, and Creativity During the COVID-19 Crisis

Dear beloved pastors, congregations and faith communities of the East Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church,

Greetings in the name of Jesus, the Vine. He still invites us to remain connected with him and bear fruit that lasts. In this unprecedented time of coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic, God has called us to witness to our faith and to lead through, and to, Christ. When we committed our lives to Christ, we committed to put others before ourselves and to share His love in all that we say and do. We can do this only by remaining connected to the God who sustains us and the community of human love.

We, Bishop Tracy S. Malone and the Cabinet, offer this guidance recognizing that we will follow God’s leading during this rapidly changing situation! Spiritually mature leaders adapt to new information. This letter is long because we have been asked to provide guidance on a number of areas that are suddenly very different than they were just two weeks ago.

These four Cs guide us today: Christ, Community, Care, and Creativity.


We have been training our entire Christian lives for such a time as this: to put others before ourselves, to decide and act with compassion for the vulnerable, to testify to God as our Rock and Redeemer, to lift up the promise of resurrection, and to live as though we do indeed believe Christ is with us in this as in all things. Jesus never asked, “What makes me the most comfortable?” His concern was always for the vulnerable, the poor, the sick, the harassed and the helpless sheep without a shepherd. As his followers, our concern is the same. We are faithful to Christ when we ask, “What offers people the greatest protection?” and “How do we love people as Jesus does in this unique situation?”


God put us in our communities to offer Christ in crisis. We believe the words of Paul when he wrote, “To each is given manifestations of the Spirit for the common good” (1 Cor 12:7 NRSV). We are so thankful for the God-given gifts of public health scientists, medical professionals of all kinds, and community leaders at all levels. We call on all Christians to pray for them daily right now!
Even so, we mourn the changes that come from following their directives.

We best protect others by limiting physical contact with them and we best worship God by testifying to our faith in new ways that don’t put others at risk. Physical separation is not the same thing as spiritual isolation. God has preserved the Church of Jesus Christ for 2,000 years, even though forms of worship and other aspects have changed.

We strongly urge all of our United Methodist churches to suspend in-person worship until we hear that it is safe to gather again.

Governor Mike DeWine and Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton have mandated no gatherings of more than 50 people and strongly encouraged none above 10, as well as closing and restricting businesses.

Painful as it is, we are suspending in-person worship to save lives. We do not know how long this will need to last in order to protect others from this highly contagious virus that is more deadly to some than others. As Jesus said in a very different context, “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him” (John 4:23).

This means that churches need to plan creative ways to worship and share the good news for our coming Holy Week and Easter season as well as regular worship, weddings, and funerals.

All in-person meetings at the Conference and district levels are either postponed or being held virtually until we hear that it is safe to gather again. We strongly urge churches to do the same. All Spring District Conferences are postponed until it is safe to have such large gatherings. It is premature to make any decisions about Annual Conference at this point.  The Commission on General Conference has released a statement announcing the postponement of General Conference 2020. Please pray for Commission members as they work to schedule new dates.

We give thanks for the God-given gifts of people who make available to us such resources as Facebook Live, Google Hangouts, Zoom,, postal workers, and so many other ways for us to connect while being physically apart. We thank you for being your most flexible selves in learning new technologies and we urge you to take advantage of the many tutorials, blogs, and other websites that are already available to help. Please ensure you are conducting your worship legally as there are some different laws for livestreaming.


People always matter most to Jesus. In every twist and turn of this new situation, ask, “How do we care for the people while also protecting them?”

Pastoral Care for Those in Hospital and Nursing Home Settings
Most if not all hospitals and nursing homes are permitting almost no visitors for the protection of those in their care. Check before you go. We urge pastors and members to respect these guidelines. We also urge you to provide pastoral care by phone calls, cards, and through the institutions’ chaplains.

Pastoral Care for Those at Home
Connect with members and with each other however you can! We rejoice in the stories of devotional guides being sent to everyone in the church, of younger members delivering groceries to older members, of the entire directory being divided up amongst each other for intentional contacts because they show the Spirit is alive and well in our churches! Everyone will be stressed in this time – whether through fear and loneliness, job loss, grief over cancellations of big events, trying to work from home while suddenly homeschooling as well – so love on each other!  “Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2).

Care for Confidentiality
We don’t at this time know exactly how to proceed if a member of a congregation tests positive for COVID-19. Follow the guidance of your respective health department. In all cases, churches should not be sharing people’s health information beyond what they themselves have chosen to share. Pastors and laity alike should ask, “What would you like me to share for prayer?”

Care for Community Needs
How is your church called to care for the community while practicing social distancing? Are there senior citizens who have not previously been part of your church but now need to be included in your church’s circle of care? Do your food pantry and community meals need to shift to drive through? Do the schools need a place for distributing free lunches? How can you collaborate with others in your community to ensure needs are being met without duplicating efforts?

Care for Church Employees
We encourage you to make every effort to continue paying your church staff, but we recognize that every church has a different capacity. Be as kind to your church staff as you are to all people right now, because all of us are figuring this out as we go.

Care for Church Finances
We urge people to be faithful in giving and prudent in spending. The districts and Conference will do the same. Highlight alternative ways to give and develop them if you don’t have them. We know that members are facing income loss from either job loss or stock market loss. Care for people first. Monitor church bank balances. Check your insurance policy for terms of business interruption endorsement.

Care from the Conference Staff
The East Ohio Conference staff are available to resource and equip you. Please call or e-mail the staff if you have questions about how to care for your ministry, connect to your community, or how to interpret rules and guidelines. We are all still working and offer ourselves to support you and the needs across the East Ohio Conference.


The Holy Spirit of our creative God breathed the breath of life into humanity and the Church. Jesus healed on the Sabbath and treated women as full disciples. John Wesley preached in cemeteries, fields, and on people’s way home from work. Our current churches grew out of catacomb worship on another continent. God preserves the church and the creative Spirit adapts its form. Now is a time when everyone craves the stability of our millennia-old faith but the form in which we share faith and community has had to adapt to brand new formats in less than two weeks!

We are so proud of the ways our pastors and churches have stepped up and learned new skills, shared what they already know and do, and just generally found ways to continue to be the church that bears fruit that lasts in the midst of crisis.  We encourage you to continue to try new things and to use the resources already available to help – including each other! Clergy who are interested in collaborating, discussing new ideas, and sharing best practices are invited to join the new Facebook page created by the Cabinet.

As stressful as it is to move everything online, it also presents a “low commitment, high invitation” opportunity to reach new people. The friend who is uncertain about showing up in person to a Bible study or worship can check out the Facebook Live version with much of the social anxiety removed. The healthy coworker with too much time and anxiety on their hands could help with food distribution. People are looking for reassurance and ways to help right now. How is your church offering them that?

To be honest, we don’t know what will be asked of us in the coming days. We will all have to adapt to the changes we can’t yet foresee – and we will do so knowing that God both cares for us and will provide what we need.

We encourage you to use the helpful and practical resources that are provided in the links below.

With much love and appreciation, and prayers for peace, wisdom, and protection,

Bishop Tracy S. Malone and the Cabinet


COVID-19 Ministry Resources

Gov. DeWine Limits Mass Gatherings

Clergy Collaboration Facebook Group

Rick Wolcott

Director of Communications

East Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church

330-800-7190 – cell


Bishop Malone Urges EOC Churches to Cancel Public Worship Services through March 27

Dear East Ohio Conference Pastors, Congregations and Faith Communities,

I continue to hold you in prayer during these difficult times.

Yesterday I asked all pastors and every congregation to do everything necessary to protect and care for the health and the wellbeing of our faith communities and our communities at large in response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic crisis.

In the past 24 hours, I have consulted several healthcare sources, including the Centers for Disease Control, the Ohio Department of Health and local healthcare systems all of which agree that to slow the spread of infection everyone must take precautionary measures and respond appropriately.

After prayerful discernment and in consultation with the executive staff of the Conference, I urge all East Ohio churches to cancel public worship services through the next two weeks, effective today through March 27.

I am not suggesting that we close our church buildings because our local churches and faith communities play a vital role in being in ministry with our communities, especially with the most vulnerable. During this time of crisis, it is critical that we find creative and non-traditional ways to practice and sustain our faith and witness through virtual worship, Bible studies, and outreach that does not put people in harm’s way.

It’s extremely important that if small groups or classes were to gather for the wellbeing of participants that extreme care be taken to make sure that people meet in cleansed spaces, that they maintain social distance by sitting with spaces between them, and that extra care be given for those who are older or have health vulnerabilities.

Realizing that different churches have different capacities and resources to respond in creative ways, I strongly encourage pastors and churches to support and resource each other so that together we can continue to share the love of Christ and be in ministry with our church members and with our communities.

Thank you in advance for your faithful response and for your leadership. While these are challenging times, we will get through them together by the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who is our great physician and healer.

East Ohio Conference Leadership will continue to monitor the latest developments regarding this coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and will inform EOC clergy and laity of updates through posts on the Conference website and social media channels and through email.

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