Update March 22, 2020: GBHEM is adhering to Nashville Mayor John Cooper’s “Safer at Home” order for all of Davidson County, TN. No GBHEM employees will enter the office between March 22 and April 5 for non-essential work. There may be limited exceptions for essential functions. GBHEM will continue to serve the Church in a remote-work environment.
Beginning Monday, March 16, the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) will temporarily migrate to a remote-work model for the majority of its staff. The agency will also cancel all planned domestic and international employee travel for the next 30 days. These changes are meant to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus in the Nashville community and beyond.
At this time, no GBHEM staff have tested positive for the virus.
“As an agency of The United Methodist Church, it is important for us to model and practice socially responsible behavior. Recommendations from the CDC and local health officials indicate that limiting group interaction and the use of large shared spaces are crucial steps in slowing the spread of the virus. We must all do our part to combat COVID-19 and protect those who are most vulnerable to it,” said Rev. Greg Bergquist, GBHEM general secretary.
GBHEM will implement its remote-work model for at least two weeks and will extend this working structure as necessary based on the recommendations of health officials. Beginning March 27, employees will receive updates every Friday morning with working plans for the following week.
The agency recognizes that there are some staff members who need to enter the GBHEM office in order to carry out their job functions. This small group of employees will work on staggered schedules and in separate parts of the building to minimize in-person interactions.
GBHEM further understands that, given the global nature of the agency’s work, halting employee travel for 30 days represents a significant change to its regular operating procedures. Employees and agency partners will move meetings to digital formats wherever possible and will postpone any interactions that need to occur in person.
Throughout the remote work period, all GBHEM phone lines and email inboxes will be monitored during regular office hours (Mon-Thurs: 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. CDT; Fri: 8 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. CDT). Agency constituents may reach staff members using those regular communication channels.
“It is important that we tackle this crisis with solidarity, compassion and common sense,” said Bergquist. “We are praying for all those who are impacted by this virus and we will do our best to lessen its spread.”
About GBHEM: The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry embraces the ministry of learning and leadership formation in The United Methodist Church and Wesleyan tradition; serving Christians around the world who are shaped by a process of intellectual engagement, spiritual and character formation, and leadership development. We cultivate a dynamic culture of call and vocational discernment that encourages lay and clergy leaders to discover, claim and flourish in God’s ministry and mission for the Church, the academy and the world. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook: @GBHEM.