March 16, 2020

Local conferences respond to coronavirus threat

Amid the growing spread of the novel coronavirus, our conferences reacted to news of the pandemic and local government recommendations. We highlight some of...

Amid the growing spread of the novel coronavirus, our conferences reacted to news of the pandemic and local government recommendations. We highlight some of the news from statements they shared with their members, as well as events they're pulling from their calendars.

The Indiana Conference is carefully monitoring the rapid developments and has been consulting the CDC recommendations as well as adhering to the mandates given to us from state officials and local health authorities. We have been praying that God will give wisdom and direction as we attempt to make the best decisions that will ensure the safety of all.As with many other churches, we are asking that every church member follow preventative measures recommended by the CDC. We are also asking our congregations to follow Governor Holcomb’s ban of gatherings above 250 people in a shared space. Those who are at higher risk for developing serious illness from COVID-19 such as older adults and people with chronic medical conditions should avoid large gatherings altogether, including worship services and other social and church events.

Cancelled Events:
- IA Music Festival
- Lake Union ASI Convention in Indiana
- It is Written evangelistic meetings in Indianapolis in April (they are looking at other avenues of sharing God’s message).


In seeking to limit the effects of this virus, the Illinois Conference is suggesting that churches and schools strongly reconsider the need to meet over the next two weeks. If churches have live-streaming capabilities, those options should be utilized to provide virtual church services for their members.

The state of Illinois has yet to mandate this for groups smaller than 1000 people, but suggest that groups of more than 250 people should not meet together. The Illinois Conference believes in erring on the side of caution. We have a responsibility to care for each other and our neighbors. With the World Health Organization now declaring COVID-19 to be a pandemic, we should be seen as part of the solution rather than potentially becoming part of the problem. With that in mind, I am strongly suggesting that churches NOT meet over the next two weeks. (Update: ILC SDA schools MUST close from March 17-30For schools, you might need to meet on Monday so that students can collect books, and communication on how they will receive their instructions according to the school continuation plan can be shared. Because this is a fluid situation, we will continue to evaluate and recommend actions moving forward. 

For those planning on being at church, [Lake Region administration is] encouraging you to maintain a sanitary environment as you meet to worship. We urge a time of earnest prayer for the power of God to be manifested, resulting in a time of healing for all affected by this disease. Maximum care and caution should be exercised regarding communion and fellowship meals. In the event of a State Emergency, we strongly recommend alternative methods of worship, such as online meetings and telephone conferences.
Cancelled Events:
The 50th Anniversary celebration of the Christian Fellowship League


We are also asking that churches abide by the recommended guidelines for mass events that include the cancellation or postponement of large gatherings and conferences greater than 100 people in a shared space. There are several options for larger churches, which may include:

  • Streaming service where the pastor and limited numbers are present to facilitate the online service (fewer than 100 attendees), 
  • Conducting multiple worship services where each service has less than 100 members,
  • Conducting worship in the homes of various church members, 
  • Churches may also opt for other options, as long as they are compliant with state recommendations. 

Cancelled Events:
Marriage Retreat scheduled for March 13-15 was cancelled, along with New in Ministry for pastors, and all mission trips that fall under the auspices of the Michigan Conference. At this time, there are no plans to cancel camp meeting. We will continue to assess and monitor the situation as we approach the summer months.


The Wisconsin Conference leadership conducted a phone conference with all our pastors clarifying how church leaders and churches should relate to this COVID-19 outbreak. Conference administrators and educational leaders also met to discuss implications relating to our schools and how to deal with them.

From those meetings we are recommending the following:

  1. 1. Follow all county and state recommendations relating to COVID-19, which includes taking precautions from getting and/or passing on the virus to others.

2. Older adults, and those with chronic medical conditions, should stay home from church at this time. (Several of our churches offer live-streaming so members could be a part of the worship service while being at home.)

3. Not conduct or attend meetings where there may be 250 or more people in attendance.

4. Churches and schools implement procedures to minimize the possibility of contracting or passing on the virus. These would include limiting physical contact (handshaking, embracing, etc.) at church or school.

5. Intentionally cleaning doorknobs and other common surfaces. Providing hand-sanitizer in common areas, etc.

Cancelled Events:
The WA Music Fest  (April 2-4)

The Mad About Marriage  (April 4)

WA Alumni weekend (April 17-19) postponed until the fall (date to be decided)

Wisconsin Academy spring break will end as scheduled March 22; however, students will conduct their classes remotely from home, for the week of March 22-29.

Education Fair cancelled (April 13)

Lake Union to temporarily close

The Lake Union office building is temporarily closed for sanitizing.The move was necessitated after participants in the Lake Union Prayer Conference in Indianapolis last weekend (March 6-8) were notified via email on Friday that an attendee had subsequently exhibited flu-like symptoms, and was tested for the coronavirus. The results of that test are unknown, but are expected by early this week.

At this point, no Lake Union Conference leaders or personnel who attended the conference have come down with any symptoms.  Out of an abundance of caution, however, the leadership has chosen to self-quarantine, and ask employees who attended to do the same, until the results of the test are released.

North American Division prohibits work-related travel, cancels events, provides guidance to churches and schools

North American Division issued guidelines, including prohibiting work-related travel until June 24, 2020. They also voted to cancel NAD-sponsored events and meetings scheduled to take place before June 24. The NAD Human Resource Services Conference and Union and Local Secretaries Council, scheduled for April 26-28, has been cancelled. The CALLED Pastors’ Family Convention, scheduled for June 20-24, 2020, has been rescheduled for the summer of 2022. Cancellation notices for several NAD events have already been issued, including the Pathfinder Bible Experience and Sonscreen Film Festival.

Indianapolis mega clinic cancelled; exploring new date

The Your Best Pathway to Health Board of Directors met on Friday, March 13, and decided to cancel the Pathway to Health mega clinic set to take place in Indianapolis next month.

In its statement the board said they were influenced by the recent announcement by Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb to limit non-essential gatherings to 250 or less people and the decisions by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists and the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists to suspend all staff travel, both moves relating to preventing further spread of the coronavirus.

"The decision to postpone the mega clinic was a very difficult one to make. Board members wrestled with their strong commitment to the safety of Pathway volunteers and Indianapolis residents and with the potential for healing that Pathway to Health would bring to those same residents."