Navigating COVID Liabilities with Your Church

COVID-19, Loss Control, People Safety and Liability

With so much information about COVID-19, it’s challenging to navigate what applies specifically to your ministry and what doesn’t. Here’s hoping this blog provides some guidance.

COVID-19 Liability FAQ

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As your church family slowly emerges from their individual dwellings to considering the reopening of your shared house of worship, the scene may resemble that of a national publication; people with bloodshot eyes staring at computers doing research late into the evening are surrounded in papers while feeling guilty about the trees that perished last night because they just couldn’t bear the screen…One.  More.  Second.  John sent you a good article, but Mary forwarded the most updated information from the CDC;  now where did you misplace that file containing state and local guidelines?  Our new reality presents some serious decisions where the lives of God’s people hang in the balance. 

God knows our hearts, and we look forward to gathering again in our houses of worship to enjoy fellowship together. He has shown us throughout the Bible that church is more than a building, and we can still do good work in our communities outside those walls. 

We offer a fictitious story to consider as you plan your reopening:

The People’s Church has been shut down since mid-March, but now their state is relaxing guidelines and reopening restaurants, gyms, camps, businesses, and retail stores. The People’s Church knows they can legally open, but the number of positive COVID-19 cases is still on the rise. They are feeling pressure from the government, as well as from some of their members who are anxious to get back to serving their church. The Pastor and Executive Board have held many virtual meetings to carefully consider the best options for reopening safely.

 They begin asking themselves questions such as, “Is there increased liability if someone gets sick, or alleges they got sick from attending our church event, worship service, or from working or volunteering at our church?  Someone else inquires, “If someone files a COVID-19 liability claim against our church, what coverage do we have?” Yet another ponders, “Should we consider a waiver for employees, volunteers or congregants?” Finally, another asks “Are there certain outreach ministries that might be too risky to offer right now?” As they all sit perplexed trying to find answers, someone suggests they contact Insurance Board for the latest updates and guidance. Sam pulled up the website at www.insuranceboard.org/covid-19-resources/ and shared his screen with everyone. They found a helpful FAQ  that answered these exact questions, and more!  They digested all the information, they reviewed the Online Learning page and signed-up for upcoming webcasts; then everyone sat quietly with their thoughts, as they considered potential risks, and decided on their next steps…”

We encourage churches to be prayerful, cautious, and consistent moving forward with their plans to reopen.  Thoughtful deliberation is needed when considering the potential impact of COVID-19 on your congregation.   A slow and methodical approach is the best way to ensure the safety of all.   As the saying goes, it is always better to error on the side of caution than to look back with regret.

Insurance Board has been at the forefront providing resources to help your church through COVID-19; attached is another resource we hope you will find useful as you navigate these unprecedented times.