All of our congregations throughout Ohio Conference are dis­cerning when is the best time to start gathering together in person again and what steps need to be taken to try to prevent any spread of COVID-19. Most will be reopening in phases offering limited interaction (e.g. no Sunday school, no nursery care, no coffee and refreshments). Some will begin by meeting outside.

Of particular concern for us Mennonites who love singing is that studies have shown that singing has the potential to spread the virus at a higher rate than talking.* While many of the considera­tions are similar, each congregation is unique and will have dif­ferent things to consider as well.

As Conference Minister, I want to encourage you to err on the side of caution. Hopefully, within the next few weeks we should have a better idea if and how rapid the coronavirus might spread across the state as things begin to reopen. Even if the best precautions are taken, there is a risk involved as we start getting together again. When Jesus was asked, “Which is the greatest commandment?” he replied, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as your­self” (Matthew 22:36-39). May the second commandment be the principle that guides our decision making in deciding when and how to reopen.

  • Dick Barrett, Conference Minister

* For more information about the risks of COVID-19 transmis­sion via singing, please see and the May 19 MennoMedia blog post at