What faith communities need to know about COVID-19


Faith leaders released a one minute video imploring the community to stay vigilant and carefully consider how COVID-19 continues to impact our congregations. Memphis is a religious city. It’s one of our strengths, and it’s one of the reasons why so many faith leaders from varied traditions came together to make this excellent video. It’s a beautiful thing to hear them speak with one voice about the decision to love their neighbors by waiting for in-person worship. We all miss gathering for worship instead of watching a screen, but we’re at a critical stage where jumping ahead too fast will only set us back. I encourage you to watch the video and hear the message. Then perhaps the most important thing you can do is share it. Let’s care for one another.

With all God’s blessings, 


Scott Morris, M.D., M.Div.
Founder & CEO
Church Health


Opening Houses of Worship during COVID-19

Our faith communities know well the suffering COVID-19 has brought to their health and economics, and we hear our moral calling to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. As we now consider the question of opening our houses of worship again, we rely on the medical community and discernment from God to make safe decisions on when and how to worship in person.
Reset expectations

As leaders, we serve our people well by communicating clearly that there is no cure for COVID-19. With stay-at-home orders lifting, more people will be infected. Public health experts anticipate the virus will circulate in the US with variable levels of infection for the foreseeable future. Therefore, faith leaders should plan wisely how to reopen houses of worship and offer assurance to congregants that even as we gather in ways that look different than before, we continue being mindful of health and safety.

Understand the virus loves worship as much as we do

Worship presents factors that favor transmitting COVID-19, including people close together, an enclosed environment with limited ventilation, and surfaces that multiple people touch. Also, most worship services feature congregational singing, one of the riskiest activities because it propels respiratory droplets almost 30 feet. If a person infected with COVID-19 is present, congregational worship can be a perfect storm for spreading the virus.

Mitigate risks while still being a community

Public health efforts to manage the ongoing presence of the virus in our community will include testing, contact tracing, and quarantining contacts of infected people. The CDC, the State of Tennessee, and Memphis and Shelby County public health officials provide guidance on how faith communities can both gather as the people of God and mitigate the risks of spreading the virus.

  • Phase-in opening your building and restoring your gatherings so you can track any outbreaks in your congregation or surrounding community and be ready to adapt.
  • Limit the spread by making sure family units sit six feet away from each other. Ask everyone to wear masks.
  • Modify services, such as shortening duration, taking a hiatus from congregational singing, and reevaluating how you administer communion.
  • Support the wider community’s effort to contain the virus by keeping attendee contact information up-todate to assist with contact tracing if necessary.
  • Maintain a robust sanitation plan of common areas and shared surfaces.
  • Continue to stream or record services as an alternative to in-person attendance. Keep meeting virtually for Bible studies and other events.
Be a source of reliable information

Create a communication plan that embraces and promotes best health practices for individuals, including remaining at home in the event of any kind of illness. Address misinformation directly when you are aware of it in your congregation.

Our calling is beyond whether we meet this week or this month. COVID-19 will pass. Living into the calling to love one another and our neighbors during this passage will show we are God’s people.

To print and share “Guidance for Gathering , please click the thumbnail image of PDF.

To read the Memphis Clergy COVID-19 Response Statement, please click the thumbnail image of PDF.

Sign In Support

To sign the letter and support the Memphis Clergy COVID-19 Response Statement, please complete the form HERE.


The Memphis Clergy COVID-19 Response Statement has been signed by the following clergy leaders:

  • Rev. Sara Corum
  • Min. Rodney Plunket 
  • Irma Hernandez
  • Sra. Judith Castillo 
  • Dean Clifford Bahlinger
  • Bp.  Kevin L Strickland 
  • Pastor Gordon Myers
  • Pastor  Vinvecca B. Gray
  • Rev. Earle J. Fisher, Ph.D. 
  • Min. Justin Johnson
  • Rev. Dr. Cedrick Von Jackson
  • Dr. Calvin J. McFadden, Sr.
  • Dr. Carolyn Ann Knight
  • Pastor Marquis McPherson 
  • Rev. William Smith III
  • Sr. Min. Geoffrey Mitchell 
  • Rev. Dr. Noel G L Hutchinson, Jr
  • Pastor Edrin Alexander 
  • Rev. Dr. Dorothy Sanders Wells
  • Rev. Thomas Fuerst
  • Mary Martin
  • Jack Windley 
  • Fr. Albert Kirk
  • Alice Shands
  • Dr. Earnestine Hunt
  • Pastor Autura Eason-Williams
  • Rev. Regina Clarke
  • Bobbie Bowen
  • Vanessa Caswell
  • Sharon Carr 
  • Cassandra Kelly Williamson 
  • Min. Angela Mennefield Cooley
  • Rev. Wanda Jamison
  • Rev. Elise Saulsberry
  • Stanita N. Gaddy
  • Sabrina Hoke
  • Pastor Stephen Cook
  • Pamela Hendricks
  • Rev. Dr. Jathaniel Cavitt 
  • Rev. Dcn. Mimsy Jones 
  • Vicar The Rev. Thomas A. Momberg
  • Laura Greenwell
  • Rev. Cheryl Cornish 
  • Pastor Linda Willis
  • Rev. Dr. Rosalyn R. Nichols
  • Sharon Kowalke
  • Joan Byrne
  • Martha Menser
  • Rev. Rob Van Ess
  • Rev. Will Christians
  • Pastor Leo Holt
  • Eld. Beverly Stephens
  • Pastor Vinvecca B. Gray 
  • Ann Terry
  • Rev. Sonia Louden Walker
  • Dr.  Mohammed Moinuddin,MD.
  • Bernetta Harris 
  • Rev. Dr. Nadolyn Woody-Dunigan
  • Pastor Darell Harrington 
  • Allen Bolen
  • Cara Ellen Modisett


We encourage all Memphis clergy and faith leaders to join, as this group will serve as a resource for churches’ response to COVID-19. We will continue to discuss what churches should do internally and what faith communities can be doing as an outreach ministry.


Memphis Clergy COVID-19 Response serves as a resource for faith community leaders in response to COVID-19. We will share how faith-based organizations can adapt and continue to serve their communities. 


Church Health invites you to pray with us from 8:00-8:02 p.m. each day. Please share your special requests with us so we can pray for you during this time.  


In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, our Church Health patients, health care team and community need your help more than ever.  


Livestream of Webinars & Discussion


Congregations often first hear that our friends or church family members are sick through the congregational prayer chain, emails, or exchanging information on Sunday mornings. At a time when many members may be anxious about the potential impact of COVID-19, congregations can offer trustworthy information when questions arise and also help to slow the transmission of the virus. Church Health works closely with public health experts and health care partners to ensure we have the most reliable and current information available for our partners in faith:
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