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Common Questions

FAQs for NIC churches navigating the COVID-19 health crisis

Annual Conference

Will there be a clergy day apart and clergy session in May?

In consultation with the Board of Ordained Ministry and Annual Conference Committee, we anticipate clergy session taking place at a later date to be determined. 

Will ordination happen in 2020?  

It is too soon for us to know when an ordination service will be scheduled and if it will be part of annual conference, but the current plan is to ordain the class of 2020 in 2020.

Can I still retire as of July 1 if there is no Clergy Session to vote on my request?

The Cabinet continues to monitor unfolding events closely. As of April 1, appointment transitions continue to be projected for July 1. Clergy who are retiring will transition to their pension program as of July 1; we do not anticipate delaying this transition.

Clergy can change status between clergy sessions on an ad interim basis; this understanding will be utilized until clergy session can vote on status changes.

Will July 1 appointments still happen?

The Cabinet is monitoring the situation but currently plans for appointment transitions to take place in July. There are always rolling dates in appointment moves as one pastor moves from a parsonage and work is done to prepare for the next pastor. Not all moves take place on the same day. Generally, the Cabinet anticipates most moves to be accomplished between mid-June and mid-July.

Is the NIC Cabinet is still meeting?

The cabinet is meeting every Tuesday and Friday via ZOOM video conferencing as they continue appointment making and address the unique issues that arise as they lead churches through the COVID-19 crisis.

Will I get charged a fee if I cancel my hotel room reservations for Annual Conference at the Schaumburg Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center? 

The Rennaissance Hotel will allow you to cancel your hotel room reservations without penalties. Once our new date(s) are confirmed, you can re-book your hotel rooms. 

How will I find out when annual conference will be rescheduled?

Keep checking back on the web site at An announcement will also appear in the weekly conference eNews. Don’t get the eNews? Click here to subscribe. 

What will happen with the North Central Jurisdictional Conference scheduled for July 15-18 in Fort Wayne, Ind.?

The North Central Jurisdictional Conference has also been postponed and will likely take place in 2021 after General Conference. Click for information.

Congregational Life

What provisions exist for faith community ceremonies under the state’s stay-at-home order?

The order includes ceremonies that may be held by the faith community, including funerals. However, these events must follow these guidelines:

No gathering may exceed ten people

Individuals who attend must maintain six feet of distance from others, use hand sanitizer, and avoid shaking hands or making other contact

Pursuant to the guidance of the Illinois Department of Health, viewings should only be conducted on bodies that have been embalmed.

You should work closely with your local funeral home director as they will be well versed in protocol.

Families are encouraged to plan on a memorial service at a later time when restrictions are lifted. 

Weddings are not permitted under the order. Additionally, the order does not permit people to convene services or other faith gatherings. However, the leader of a religious organization may wish to provide for online or remote viewings of faith events.

Drive-thru communion and parking lot services are discouraged, as they do not comply with the Illinois "stay-at-home" guidelines.

How do I find out what churches are offering online worship?

Click here for the Online Worship Services page on the NIC website. This page is updated daily. 

How do we cover copyrights for music and video materials used in our church’s online worship? 

Copyrights can be the biggest roadblock to live streaming your church’s worship services.  Churches must have a CCLI streaming license to cover copyrights for music and video materials. If you do not have or can’t afford a license, here are some resources: 

Materials from the Open Hymnal ( and the 1979 Book of Common Prayer ( require no permissions to utilize in broadcasts and recording, as they are in the public domain.

Songs published before 1925 are in the public domain and do not require licensing for any use (includes many older hymns and Christmas songs!) To find public domain music click here.

The World English Bible (WEB) is also public domain. It’s available at

One License is offering two different gratis license options valid through April 15, 2020. Click to learn more.

To ensure that local churches have the resources they need, the United Methodist Publishing House (UMPH) announced that it is granting permission to livestream and post online selected content from the United Methodist Book of Worship (BOW) as congregations care for their members during the international health crisis. Click to read more.

National Council of Churches has temporarily revised their permissions policy. Churches that livestream or broadcast their church sermons may use the RSV/NRSV without any special permission requirements. 

Learn more helpful tips and info on copyright for churches on this GCFA copyright webinar.

How do we stay in touch with our congregation?

NIC offers Thursday Trainings that cover that very subject! Click here to check out upcoming trainings and archived learning sessions. You can also check out the United Methodist Communications resource website for ways to connect. 

What about communion?

Bishop Dyck has offered us specific guidance on communion:

If after an informed discussion between church leadership and clergy, a church truly desires to do online, livestreaming worship [with communion], I would ask you to think about these things: 

  • Read widely—at least for a few hours—about both the pros and cons of online communion. If nothing else, it will provide a greater sensitivity toward those in your congregation or your colleagues who wouldn’t choose this route. Trust me: I’ve found this to be true already! See below for some resources that you can find; most of them on the Discipleship Ministries website. There are reasons why the UMC has discouraged online communion over the years – primarily because our tradition, theology, and polity emphasize celebrating it in the midst of a gathered community.
  • Embed the communion in teaching on its unique meaning in light of our experience and the story of our salvation with the use of the rich liturgy in our hymnal. This is not an occasion for a casual approach but a profound moment of grounding ourselves in “this holy mystery.” 
  • This is an act “in extremis.” As a colleague friend of mine pointed out, “in extremis” is a Latin term that began during the plague of the 16th century; it means that it’s an extraordinary time that calls for extraordinary measures that don’t apply afterward. If you practice online communion, understand that it is not now a regular practice of the UMC.
  • No matter what you decide, in providing any of these “means of grace,” please give great thought to the preparation and any distribution of the elements—the bread and cup, how to provide them or instructions for supplying one’s own.

Read more:

Discipleship Ministries commentary on online communion with resources

A cautionary voice: Online Communion and the COVID-19 Crisis Problems and Alternatives

Can congregations take charge conference votes online while we are under the state’s stay-at-home order?

Clergy need to discern whether voting on a particular matter at this time is crucial and necessary. If it is not and can wait until the congregation is able to gather again, then the voting should wait. If a vote is absolutely necessary at this time, meeting online using a video conferencing platform is preferred because it most closely aligns with the meaning of “present and voting” in The Book of Discipline. You must still follow standard procedure for Charge Conferences, including a written request to your DS, written permission from the DS, advanced notice of the meeting and agenda.

Do clergy need to carry a letter of authorization during the stay-at-home executive order?

As of April 1, the order for Illinois does not require one. The order states that all workers who can work from home must do so; this would include clergy, but we recognize that pastoral care may require leaving the house (for example, in the case of funerals). NIC provides active clergy with an annual ID.  If you do not have an ID,  you can contact Laura Lopez ( to be issued a new one.  

Are we planning a big back-to-worship celebration when the stay-at-home order is lifted?

It is difficult to know when the stay-at home-rule will be lifted and/or if there will be interim steps before larger groups can gather. Bishop Dyck has talked with the Annual Conference worship team about the possibility of offering some guidance on what a back-to-worship celebration might look like or creating some common liturgy or prayer that can be shared across our churches.

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