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COVID Update: Resources for Holy week and Easter

By: Doreen Gosmire, director of communication, Dakotas UMC

This message is a continuing effort to provide frequent email updates to inform and equip you as best we can to respond to COVID-19 within your congregation and community. View COVID-19 response page

Current situation, March 26, 2020

The Center for Disease Control reports as of March 26, 2020, 69,440 total cases in the United States with 994 deaths.

North Dakota has 58 positive cases, 11 hospitalizations, and no deaths. There is documented community spread. Counties with positive cases are Burleigh (Bismarck area) 23 cases, Cass (Fargo area) 8 cases, Dunn (Kildeer area) 1 case, Foster (Carringon area) 1 case, McHenry (Velva area) 1 case, McIntosh (Asley area) 1 case, Morton (Mandan area) 8 cases, Pierce (Rugby area) 2 cases, Ramsey (Devils Lake area) 3 cases, Stark (Dickinson area) 5 cases, Walsh (Graton area) 1 case, Ward (Minot area) 4 cases.

The state of South Dakota has 41 positive cases and one death. Community spread is not documented at this time. Counties with positive cases are Beadle (Huron area) 14 cases, Bon Homme (Tyndall area)1 case, Brown (Aberdeen area) 2 cases, Brookings (Brookings area) 1 case, Charles Mix (Platte, Lake Andes area) 1 case, Davison (Mitchell area) 2 cases, Huges (Pierre area) 1 case, Lincoln (Harrisburg area) 2 cases, McCook (Salem area) 2 cases, Meade (Sturgis area) 1 case, Minnehaha (Sioux Falls area) 16 cases, Pennington, (Rapid City area) 1 case—resulting in death that occurred in Davison County.


Holy Week and Easter worship resources and ideas

Telling the old story, in a new time: Best practices for worshiping online and beyond in a physically distanced world—Join author, creative worship, and guest readiness coach Jason Moore for a 90-minute webinar on April 2, 2020, 6-8 p.m. CDT / 5-7 p.m. MDT, for how to face these unique challenges to worship. Jason will lead your church into a deep dive through the questions and answers that must be asked and addressed as we worship today. Get the details here.

Two family ministry activities ready for you to use:

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Photo by AP x 90 on Unsplash

  1. Passport to Easter: Rev. Kris Mutzenbeger, who serves at First UMC in Fargo, North Dakota has created a multi-generational activity for Holy Week that involves journeying through the stops that Jesus took to the cross. Each stop has a scripture message, devotional, activity and a sticker for your passport book to Easter. Find the packet, and instructions on the Fargo First UMC website.
  2. Pastor Kris is also making at-home Sunday school packets available to you. Fargo First uses the Deep Blue curriculum. She encourages her students to send a photo of your completed activity from last week to her—so she can add your prize to your envelope for the next week! Get all the materials for the at-home Sunday school packets here.

Palm Sunday: Several churches throughout the local communities are joining together to do a car parade through main street and other streets. Those driving will have a palm that has been sanitized with wipes. Congregations are making palms available by driving by the church a day or two before Palm Sunday and picking up a palm in a box right by the doors—with disinfecting wipes right by the box.

Maundy Thursday service: Rev. Teresa Whetsel, who serves at First UMC in Miller, South Dakota, is inviting families to have a meal together and share in this time of worship. View and download Pastor Teresa’s order of worship and liturgy here.

Good Friday Tenebrae service: There is a team of clergy colleagues that is working on planning and recording a Tenebrae service. You can connect with this group and learn more by joining the Creative COVID Ministry group on the Dakotas Conference Facebook page. To join search for Creative COVID Ministry in the Dakotas in Facebook and request to join the group. We would be happy to have you join.

Easter Cannot Be Canceled 585

Join us for the television broadcast of a United Methodist Easter worship. On Sunday, April 12, 2020, at 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. CDT, watch Easter worship from the Dakotas on your television. KELO-TV, reaching audiences in South Dakota, northwest Iowa, southwest Minnesota, and northeast Nebraska will broadcast a service, with Bishop Ough preaching. This service is being planned by Sioux Falls area United Methodist congregations. KFYR-TV, reaching western North Dakota—west of Jamestown, and eastern Montana, will broadcast a service, featuring celebrants and musicians from Bismarck area United Methodist congregations. We will notify you if we add additional broadcasts. Recordings of these broadcasts will be available online after the services.


Bishop Bruce R. Ough

We encourage each congregation to celebrate Holy Week and Easter. Remember and live out Bishop Ough’s words, “We may not be able to gather in our glorious Easter celebrations in our lily-decorated sanctuaries, but Easter cannot be canceled. The resurrection cannot be stopped or delayed or defeated!” See the video and full message here.


Your questions answered: 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, please 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.

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.


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