Responding to the coronavirus

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'12 Rules of Church from the CDC'

As United Methodist congregations return to their sanctuaries for worship, most attendees need to remember new rules for gathering, greeting and giving. To remind church-goers of the new expectations, First United Methodist Church in Covington, Tennessee, posted a video of its Pandemic Praise Team singing new lyrics to a familiar Christmas tune. “The 12 Rules of Church from the CDC” is quickly becoming an internet hit, with 123,000 views and 2,426 shares, as of June 15.

As the church began preparing to regather, Catherine Phelps, a nurse practitioner by profession and lead soprano at Covington First, used guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to compile the rules for returning to the building.

The song was conceived after service one Sunday, says Carole Mathis, associate pastor of worship and teaching. The Pandemic Praise Team, three family groups who agreed to sing together for the church’s online worship services, “came up with the idea of using humor, in song form, to teach our congregants the expectations. 

“In 15 minutes or less, a few of us wrote the lyrics to this familiar, yet obnoxious, tune. We agreed to meet the following Wednesday where we recorded the audio, as well as the overlaying video clips to accompany. Our guitarist and computer expert, Molly Glass, edited the video that evening on her Macbook Pro, using iMovie.”

The children in the video are Mathis’ grandchildren “who had to be present for the recording, because my daughter (Amy Shrum) is the soloist for the #2 rule, and my son-in-law (Mark Shrum), their father, is our sound technician!” 

“The entire project was spontaneous, fun and took less than two hours to complete,” Matthis says. “What was meant to be a delightful, instructive video for our congregation was shared and seen worldwide in less than 48 hours. We are grateful and humbled to use the gifts that God has given us, to shed his light in this seemingly dark time."

Those 123,000-plus viewers have posted hundreds of positive comments. Mathis’ favorite came from Terry Walton in the North Georgia Conference: "This is the spirit that turns lemons into lemonade.”

The Rev. Kathy Noble is the former editorial manager for leader communications at United Methodist Communications in Nashville, Tennessee, USA. Contact [email protected]