The Holston Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, which includes United Methodist churches in Southwest Virginia, East Tennessee and Northern Georgia, announced that churches will remain closed until further notice.

Holston had originally imposed a two-week closure for all church activities, including services, meals, youth activities and Bible studies in hopes that services could continue on March 29.

In an update today, Resident Bishop Mary Virginia Taylor said that social distancing is helping to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the community, but yet the coronavirus is spreading.

“We had hoped after two weeks of church closure, we would be able to gather for worship on Sunday, March 29. However, we now know that it is in the best interest of our communities to remain closed until further notice,” she said.

Taylor also learned that the United Methodist General Conference, scheduled to meet in Minneapolis in May, was notified by the Minnesota Department of Health, the Governor of Minnesota and the Mayor of Minneapolis that the General Conference has been cancelled in order to slow the spread of the virus.

“I realize that although we are not able to gather in our church buildings right now. The spirit of God is very much at work around us,” she said. “Our connection is strong. Like you, we follow the news with great anticipation for the day when we can gather together in person to worship our risen Lord. In the meantime, I want to reiterate how proud I am of you as I hear and see all the wonderful and creative ways you are remaining in ministry. Again, just a reminder that I want to urge all of us to check on those who are vulnerable and in need within our churches and communities.”

For further updates, see www.holston.org, and check their coronavirus resource page.