COVID-19 is top church story of 2020

January 07, 2021

A pandemic of biblical proportions was the top story of The United Methodist Church in 2020.

Voters selected the church’s response to the coronavirus as the top story over the role of LGBTQ people in the church, which topped voting in 2018 and 2019 and has brought the denomination to the brink of schism.

The LGBTQ issue fell to third place, behind the church’s response to the deaths of Black Americans at the hands of police and the ensuing protests.

More than 350,000 Americans have died because of the coronavirus, and more than 20 million in the U.S. have been infected, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most churches halted in-person services in favor of online worship. Some congregations met outdoors until cold weather made it too uncomfortable.

Like United Methodists all over the world, members of Hamilton Park United Methodist Church in Dallas are going through a long-term grieving process because of COVID-19, said the Rev. Sheron C. Patterson, senior pastor.

“Grieving being in a prison of our homes, grieving isolation, grieving that COVID has taken away from us the basics of community and fellowship and being in church together,” said Patterson in a Nov. 30 UM News story.

Thirty-seven voters from the UM News staff and communicators in the U.S., Africa, Europe and the Philippines selected the top stories. Five points were awarded to their first-place selection, with four points going to the No. 2 story, three to the third choice and so on.