Please Join Us in Prayer Surrounding the Coronavirus Outbreak
We invite you to join in the following prayer or one of your own choosing.
We know that God is a Love that has no end and a Power that knows no bounds. God’s healing power of Divine Life is restoring, healing, and revitalizing our world in this very moment. We let go of any fears or anxieties, and we affirm that all are safe, healthy, and protected. We bless all those who support us in maintaining vibrant radiant health. We express Divine Life in all we think, say, and do. We bless our global family with radiant health, peace of mind, and abundant love.
Thank you for checking in!
We are collecting and organizing information about our Unity ministries in the path of hurricanes, wildfires, and other situations. We will be posting updates here as we receive them. Thank you for your generous support of our spiritual communities!
Ministers/spiritual leaders and ministries, send your updates to Bernadette Swanson at BSwanson@unity.org.
Rev. Kelly Isola is a certified disaster chaplain, specializing in leading individuals and organizations through rapid unprecedented large-scale change. You can contact her at email@example.com.
Before you send donations for natural disasters: Please read Rev Kelly Isola's article about donating after a disaster. Hierarchy of donations: cash, online donations, check. Some disaster locations may not have postal service or recipients can't get to a bank. Do not send stuff! Some donations of items are not helpful if ministries have no place to store supplies. When in doubt, contact the ministry via email first or by phone.
You can also donate to our Help Unity Grow (HUG) Fund. On our Donate page, under Donor Information, select Other from the Donor's Designation dropdown menu, and type HUG Fund in the Other field. Please note that the HUG Fund is designed to help ministries, not individuals.
We are also collecting articles on preparing for emergencies in your spiritual communities. These are also in the Disaster & Emergency Resources section.
Table of Contents
We will be posting resources for you here to help keep you informed and to help you make decisions for your spiritual communities and families.
Communications from UWM
If your ministry is applying for the Paycheck Protection Plan (PPP) and you need documentation regarding your ministry's status, please reach out to Suzy Forrester at SForrester@unity.org.
Regarding PPP, at least one minister had a challenge with their bank excluding manse from the compensation calculation in their PPP loan application. Following is some language that might be helpful in such a case, since it refers directly to the IRC code: “Section 107 of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) allows the minister of a religious body to exempt some or all of a housing allowance from gross income for income tax purposes. The minister’s housing allowance is a portion of a minister’s compensation designated in advance as housing allowance by the minister’s church.”
Helpful Guidelines from California. COVID-19 INDUSTRY GUIDANCE: Places of Worship and Providers of Religious Services and Cultural Ceremonies (May 25, 2020)
Reopening: 4 Phases by Ken Braddy
From the CDC: Interim Guidance for Communities of Faith (posted May 22, 2020)
Explanation of How Coronavirus Spreads (posted May 11, 2020)
We hold Toni Boehm, Greg Coles, Martha Creek, Beth Head, and Robin Volker in our hearts with great gratitude for their contributions to the creation of the next two templates for you to customize. Thank you!
4-28-2020, Reopening: Questions to Consider: As restrictions on in-person events start lifting, are you ready to start meeting again? Here are some things to consider before you reopen your meeting space.
Update from the UWM Board: 4-1-2020 (Revised 4-2-2020). This issue highlights financial tips, plus resources that may be available to you via the CARES Act, such as the Paycheck Protection Program.
Client letter from UWM's attorney, Bob Bartunek, about CARES Act business loans (3-31-2020)
Update from the UWM Board: 3-28-2020. The 2020 Unity People's Convention is canceled. The UWM Board has set up The Loaves & Fishes Fund to assist ministries affected by the COVID-19 virus, and they will match donations from the regions.
Important Communication: 3-17-2020. Suggest suspending in-person services and events. Central office working remotely.
March 2, 2020: We have prepared some suggestions (revised 3-12-2020) for your and your spiritual communities to consider during the outbreak of the coronavirus COVID-19. Update 5/18/2020: Elbow bumps are no longer recommended. (See #12 in article.)
Questions about livestreaming? Contact Rev. Jacquie Fernandez or Rev. Kelly Isola. Both have stepped up and been busy supporting our ministries with trainings and answering questions. We are so grateful for their willingness to share their expertise and for their support.
Visit this webpage for the upcoming schedule and for archives of past calls.
Connection Space (on our former Conversations with Unity Leaders webpage) is designed to be a time of community and Q&A on a variety of timely topics. Each session will feature a specific topic and will be staffed by facilitators well versed in the subject matter. The facilitators will share their knowledge and then offer a time for Q&A. There is no need to register, just show up with your questions. Our intention is to offer a Connection Space weeily on either Tuesday or Thursday afternoons, 1-2:30 p.m. (CT).
Think Tank Groups by Fresh Expressions. Starts March 31, 2020, so register now before it fills up! Coronavirus has completely disrupted your approach to church. Now, you can brainstorm, discuss, and process with other practitioners to develop a strategy that specifically fits your church.
Find Sunday Services Online
Unity Worldwide Ministries offers an online directory of our ministries at Find a Ministry on our website. In order to find a ministry that offers livestreamed services or services that are recorded, you’ll need to use the “Keywords” Search box. You can search for a ministry using keywords such as “livestream” or “recorded services,” which will pull up a listing of our ministries that offer these services. If you have any questions about how to use our directory, please contact Diana Kennedy at DKennedy@unity.org.
Unity Online Radio
Teens and the COVID-19 Crisis
Rev. Jacquie Fernandez is joined by her 17-year-old daughter, Josie; Rev. Diane Venzera, Youth and Family Ministry Coordinator for Unity Worldwide Ministries; and mental health consultant Brijin Gardner, LCSW. They discuss how teens are experiencing the pandemic, what resources are available for those working with teens, and how we can support our youth.
The Grief of Isolation, Separation, and Sheltering at Home
Many of us are on an enforced sabbatical from our daily lives, being told to shelter in place. What can we do to alleviate feelings of isolation and separation, and how can we connect in a way that doesn't involve face-to-face contact? Rev. Linda Martella-Whitsett, vice president of Unity Prayer and Practice at Unity World Headquarters, and Rev. Dr. Paul Hasselbeck are the guests.
emPower Music & Arts: Extended Licensing for Livestream and Videos
Note: The songs in the Wings of Song songbook are not covered by the emPower licensing, including "Let There Be Peace on Earth."
From Richard Mekdeci (March 31, 2020):
Christian Copyright Solutions offers a blanket license for over 30 million songs in ASCAP, SESAC, and BMI that would cover your "Beatles Sunday" or the occasional show tune. (We did "You'll Never Walk Alone" two weeks ago.) They start around $250 for a year depending on the size of your church. So for small- to moderate-sized churches, you can be covered for just about anything you want to play for under $500 a year. Including the emPower Music Rights License, that's less than $10 a Sunday. These licenses should be included in the church's yearly operating budget.
Zoom Suppression Settings—for getting the best sound when using music
Calming Playlist for Anxious Times
During this extraordinary time, we know that music is one way we can ease our stress, heal our bodies, and connect us in heart and consciousness. emPower is offering this “healing playlist” free of charge. Click the link above, then click the play button and enjoy listening to 50 songs with a common message of assurance, healing, and unity. Please share this playlist with your congregation and social media.
Here are some articles that may help you in your considerations and decision-making during this pandemic.The Faith & Leadership website has a number of articles. Consider reading the articles by George Mason/Mark Wingfield, and Kara K. Root, and, under Medicine and Religion, the article by Deanna Thompson.
7 Lessons from Singapore's Churches for When the Coronavirus Reaches Yours (Christianity Today)
See Music section above for Zoom suppression settings when including music.
Hold Your Annual Meeting Via Zoom. UWM Parliamentarian Dr. Leonard Young offers his services.
Protect Your Zoom Meeting: Instructions from Rev. Shad Groverland on keeping disruptors out of your meeting.
To set up a Zoom free account, go here: https://zoom.us/pricing
For Zoom tutorials: https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us?flash_digest=73680c7f2713a8984245e481b8419dc3942d1a57
Two things to be aware of:
- With a free Zoom account, your meeting can only be 40 minutes long. If you need something that runs longer, you will need to go to a paid account.
- Zoom accounts are individual accounts, meaning only one meeting can happen at a time.
Zoom updates iOS app to remove code that sent device data to Facebook (3-28-2020)
Given the number of security issues with Zoom accounts (some large companies are banning use by their employees), we offer Webex as an alternative. It has a free account option. This is an option for those who are reluctant to use Zoom and for those who want a free account that does not have the 40-minute limit.
Unity Tech Team
Unity Tech Team on Facebook
Leave your questions on their Facebook page and someone will get back to you. This is a volunteer task team of Unity Worldwide Ministries comprised of people in the Unity movement willing to help with tech questions.
Here are some additional links to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC):
From Rev. Carrie Kenyon, UWM Member Services Coordinator:
I talked to John Mclean in Nashville. The church is fine and none of the congregants were affected. John said it’s ironic but today is one of the most beautiful days they have had this year. I called Ann Marie Beale in Cookeville regarding Unity of the Cumberland and got her voicemail, so I talked to David Torres. He is sure they are all fine but will get back to me if he hears anything. I also asked Ann Marie to call me back as well.
November 11, 2019
From Rev. Anne Hickey, Melbourne, Australia
Can you please include Australia in your prayers over the next few days? The drought, along with extreme winds, is creating the most catastrophic fire conditions in 40 years in three of our states. There have been many homes lost and some loss of life in country areas. All prayers are most appreciated.
January 9, 2020
We received updates on the ministries in Puerto Rico from Rev. Esther O. Mantilla.
Knowing that God is a love that has no end and a power that knows no bounds, we affirm that divine protection enfolds everyone in the path of the California wildfires. All people, pets, and wildlife are guided to safety as the fires are swiftly contained. We bless all fire fighters and aid workers, seeing them protected, strengthened, and guided. May everyone involved feel the healing peace and love of Spirit. And so it is. Amen.
November 18, 2019
From Rev. Alyzsa Van Til
Thanks so much for your thoughts and prayers. I still need them. Somehow I don't seem to be getting over this trauma … as quickly as I might have at a younger age. Loving Blessings, Alyzsa
November 8, 2019
From Diane Monson, Administrator at Unity of Oroville, California (Rev. Kathy Zavada, Spiritual Leader)
Today we observed a few minutes of silence at 11 a.m. with a circle of loving friends. Here is a very good account of the local situation. Additionally though many people got insurance checks right away, now, a year later, some are suing those insurance companies for failing to reimburse properly for contents lost. Some bought houses in my very good Oroville neighborhood that were 60 years old and in need of every infrastructure (electric, plumbing, French drains, roofs, gutters, tree removal) improvement, all payable in 100k+ cash (we know because we spent it ourselves over the last two years). And now they are paying $4,000/ year in property taxes and larger insurance premiums and they are struggling, sigh. So even the best case scenarios for survivors is not great around here.10,000 people are believed to have left Butte County altogether. By the grace of God we have a prosperous church with no debt and a truly inspired SL [spiritual leader: Kathy Zavada]. Goodness knows how much counseling she has done this past year. We have been able to open the doors of our little church to embrace the many who have walked in, stunned and confused, to seek solace. Our mission is to bring hope and perspective to those affected so deeply. I think we have been successful. Thank you so much for your continued prayer.
One Year After California’s Deadliest Wildfire, Many Still Don’t Have a Place to Call Home
November 7, 2019
From Rev. Alyzsa Van Til
I live in Windsor and had to evacuate. The fire was only six blocks from my house. I am blessed to have a son in the area, so no major problem. And, everything is fine at home—no damage. Thanks for your prayers.
From John Gallaway, CFO of Unity Spiritual Center in Napa Valley, Napa, California
The congregation at Unity Spiritual Center in Napa Valley was not directly impacted by the Kincade Fire, but members living in the city of Saint Helena were on alert for possible evacuation should the fire have moved further to the southeast. We join you in prayer for those many hundreds of thousands of people in Northern and Southern California who needed to evacuate to safe locations and whose hardships are temporary, or very sadly, permanent. We have asked for prayers for these souls through Silent Unity, as well. As individuals and as a congregation, we are grateful for the blessings that support and nourish us and include this gratitude for your loving email of concern and support. May you be safe and blessed and we know that UWM is a resource that we can turn to for assistance.
From Diane Monson, Administrator at Unity of Oroville, California (Rev. Kathy Zavada, Spiritual Leader)
We are fire free in the north state this year...however we are also rain free. We have not even been affected by smoke this year! We have been “blacked out” for a couple of days by PG&E power company once or twice this summer at the church, but they seem to have since decided we are in a safe location and the last few shut downs have not affected our church electricity. Many of our congregants are going without electricity at home for 4-5 days at a time (we have had five long shutdowns in the last several months). We are adaptable and have some clever ways of surviving the outages, but it is of grave concern for the long term. We so appreciate your prayers and we hope to have good news regarding rainfall soon. [They were devastated in 2018 and Rev. Kathy lost her home.]
From Sharie Lieberg, Board President at Unity of Ventura, California
Luckily, all of the Unity of Ventura folks are doing well. We had some local scares, but everyone is fine—no loss of homes or property like the last two years. I am not aware of any other local ministries that are suffering damage from the fires. You might check out the Northern California ministries, where fire has had a much bigger impact. Thank you so much for your prayers! No wonder we felt so protected.
From Sue Barton, Chair of the Ministerial Search Team, Unity Center of Davis, California
Thank you for your concern for our state. Many of us lost power which might have been the result of PG&E shutdown or the impact of 50 mph winds and trees knocking out power. Most of us know of family or friends who were in harm’s way and either chose to evacuate because of the smoke or were told to leave. Communities near the fires didn't have power for multiple days. No loss of life but for some loss of everything. The unusually hot weather and winds are a new thing and perhaps the new normal with climate change. We are mindful, awake, and cautious.
October 29, 2019
From Karol Ann Scotta, Spiritual Leader, Unity of The Westside, Culver City, California
We are all safe. It is very smoky in the air, but the fires are still north of us. I checked on Rev. Karen [Epps] in Pasadena (Unity of Pasadena) and they are fine too. The prayer of the week out here is “Peace, be still.” Tonight we are told to expect winds. I am expecting a miracle! Thank you for holding us in prayer.
We were able to contact retired Rev. Karen Barrett about Unity Centre of Light Bahamas in Nassau, Bahamas. They had flooding outside but not inside their center. She suggested donations to the Red Cross and Salvation Army as they have the infrastructure to access and help folks.
"I Want to Give" Rev Kelly Isola is a Disaster Response/Recovery Chaplain, with lots of education, training and certifications from FEMA. Her blog is on how to donate and volunteer because "so many don't know what to do or how to organize and often people start doing their own thing and forget to connect with the larger network." In our desire to help, we sometimes become part of the problem of overwhelming the recipients.
Crisis Preparation. Tragedies invite us to be aware and consider how we can best create a space of safety in our ministries. This article from Thom Rainer may help you to think into this.
Protecting Your Congregation. An article from Christianity Today has advice for ministry leaders in protecting your spiritual community from a gunman.