Your questions answered
Have a question for the Dakotas Conference regarding COVID-19 and your congregations and communities? Email Dakotas Conference Communications, and we'll answer to the best of our abilities. Our COVID-19 response page has the latest resources and updates.
Question: Can communion be consecrated online?
Answer: Yes. Bishop Ough grants permission for pastors to do online communion. That said, he strongly encourages clergy to be intentional about how they do this and to do it well by explaining or using scripture to interpret the meaning of communion and using the words of institution. For shut-ins, individuals on their death beds, people who are quarantined, and anyone else who is extremely vulnerable, it is absolutely appropriate and encouraged to serve communion online or using whatever means are necessary and available.
Online worship attendance:
Amid the latest recommendations that have emerged in response to COVID-19, a record number of churches are using live-streaming for online worship. If you have been live-streaming worship services for a while, continue counting online/live stream worship attendance the same way you have been. If you are just starting to use live-streaming and are unsure about how to count online worship attendance metrics, here is what we recommend for Facebook and YouTube:
For Facebook Live: Use "1-Minute Video Views" as the number for metrics reporting
For YouTube: Use "30-Second Video Views" for metrics reporting
Be sure to wait at least 24 hours after the video is published to count the number of views the video received. Here are instructions for finding viewer counts for Facebook and YouTube.
Charge conference votes
Question: Can congregations take charge conference votes online during the health crisis?
Answer: Bishop Ough encourages clergy to first consider whether voting on a particular matter during this period of social distancing is crucial and necessary; if it’s not and can wait until the congregation is able to physically gather again, that’s what should be done. If a vote is absolutely necessary at this time, meeting online using a video conferencing platform is preferable because it most closely aligns with the meaning of “present and voting” in The Book of Discipline. However, in settings or situations when that isn’t possible, voting in some other electronic fashion is permitted.
Child care centers
Question: What do you recommend for child care centers that operate within our churches?
Answer: As of Monday, March 16, North Dakota, Governor Doug Burgum and South Dakota, Governor Kristi Noem are still recommending that child care centers remain open so that the North and South Dakota work force can continue to operate. However, they acknowledged—as we do—that it is understandable for centers to decide to close given the latest health agency recommendations. Churches need to make the best possible decision given their own circumstances, and we support you in whatever decision you make. Here are a few things to consider as you weigh options:
For any child care providers who choose to stay open during this time, if staff become ill they need to be tested for COVID-19.
If you remain open, be extra vigilant in sanitizing surfaces, having everyone present wash their hands frequently for at least 20 seconds, and telling parents to keep their children home if anyone in their household is exhibiting any signs of illness.