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    The Upper New York Conference of The United Methodist Church


    about / UNY COVID-19 Response

    Coronavirus FAQs

    My church received an umemployment claim, but the person is still employed. What should I do?

    There has been an increase in fraudulent unemployment claims during the coronavirus pandemic. If you receive something from the New York State Department of Labor about a claim being filed, DO NOT ignore it. First verify with the employee that they filed a claim. In some cases, it may be a case of identity theft. Click here for details on what you should do with this claim.

    If you have questions on unemployment, please contact Tracy Rickett, Human Resources Generalist, at (315) 898-2017 or tracyrickett@unyumc.org.

    Can churches require proof of vaccination for visitors at worship or any other church event?

    With vaccination eligibility available for so many now, a lot of New Yorker’s are starting to return to more regular participation in various activities as they are vaccinated. This includes going to church. 

    Accordingly, there are a lot of questions about if it is ok to require that visitors show proof of vaccination when attending church events, including weekly worship.

    Current legal guidance advises against requiring visitors to show proof of vaccination. Access to vaccines continues to be limited in certain geographic locations, meaning that, due to no fault of their own, there are people who cannot receive the vaccine yet, even if they want to. Requiring the vaccine for participation also runs the risk of discriminating against individuals who cannot receive the vaccine for medical/religious reasons and would involve the church getting involved in third-party medical information, which we are not equipped to do.

    Church spaces should be kept clean and sanitized for the safety of all who enter, vaccinated or not. The CDC continues to urge the community, that when gathering, participants continue to wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth, practice social distancing, wash/sanitize your hands. If you are sick, or have a cold or a temperature, please stay home and join us via live stream (where available). 

    For the most updated information on how to assemble in worship please visit our Church COVID 19 Guidelines at https://www.unyumc.org/about/church-covid-19-guidelines.

    Can clergy be vaccinated?

    As New York State’s vaccine supply from the federal government increases, Gov. Cuomo has expanded eligibility on March 17 to more New Yorkers to keep the vaccination progress moving. Starting today, three new groups of New Yorkers are eligible for the vaccine: public-facing government and public workers, not-for-profit workers who provide public-facing services to New Yorkers in need (this includes clergy), and essential in-person building service workers.

    Please contact your local vaccination center to verify your eligibility. 

    Can I host a wedding reception in my church?

    Beginning March 15, 2021, the following guidelines will go into place for wedding receptions and will require the following:

    • Testing for all that attend the event.
    • 50% capacity - up to 150 attendees.
    • Must be approved by your local health department.

    Should my church be doing more to safely clean and disinfect our sanctuary to prevent the spread of the COVID-19?

    Many common household disinfectants and daily cleaning are effective in removing germs that make people sick. Click here to review guidelines for proper disinfecting to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

    What should my church do with regards to weddings, baptisms, and funerals with all the COVID-19 restrictions in place?

    To prevent the spread of the virus, there are limitations on how many people should gather at one time while still maintaining the 6 feet space restrictions between individuals. Click here to read some guidelines when it comes to these important social gatherings. Click here to read guidelines regarding funerals from the Office of New York Govenor Andrew Cuomo.

    I have a group meeting coming up where I will be in close contact with others. Are there any alternatives to meeting in person?

    The UNY Conference strongly recommends that team meetings and other gatherings scheduled at the United Methodist Center be rescheduled or shifted to an online meeting platform. Click here for more information on how to use Zoom.

    What if my church makes the decision to close. Is there a way to way to live-stream Sunday service and still reach my congregation?

    Consider recording your sermon and posting it on your website or Facebook. You could also live stream your sermon or even a full worship service, but use caution when live streaming to avoid using copyrighted music, video, or images within my live stream or recorded event. Even if you have the rights to use them within your church, you may not have the same rights to use them online or within videos. Click here for information about live streaming and licensing.


    With more than 144,000 members, the Upper New York Annual (Regional) Conference of The United Methodist Church comprises 865 local churches and 91 new faith communities in 12 districts, covering 48,000 square miles in 49 of the 62 counties in New York state. Our mission is to “live the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to be God’s love with our neighbors in all places."