United Theological Seminary

United's Response to COVID-19

In light of the recent changes in State and Federal recommendations related to COVID-19, United’s campus is currently closed.


As you know, the state of Minnesota will move into a shelter-in-place system starting at 11:59 p.m. on Friday, March 27, continuing through April 10. The Governor’s full announcement of this decision is available here. Please see the updates below to understand how this decision will affect United’s operations.

We continue to hold space for all in our community who are anxious, afraid, overwhelmed, or discouraged. We also continue to be inspired by the tremendous work coming from our students, staff, faculty, and alums who are finding ways to care for our community and all those they serve in the midst of this uncertain situation. I encourage you to stay connected to our United community through our social media presence and any other tools you are finding helpful. Please continue to reach out if you are in need of support, resources, or information. We are United!


Classes: Online-only instruction will continue through the remainder of the spring semester. Faculty will continue to work with students to ensure everyone has access to course content. We are also monitoring any potential impact on our summer courses. It is possible that the Zoom-only course delivery will continue into or through the summer term as well. It is also possible that this summer’s hybrid on-campus intensives will be canceled and content shifted to Zoom. We intend to make a decision and announcement regarding the summer term by mid-April.

Campus Closure: Our campus remains closed and we ask that students, staff, and faculty not come to the United campus for any reason once the shelter-in-place action begins. All staff and faculty will continue to work their regular schedules and are available via Zoom, phone, and email. Some communication might be a bit slower than usual as we all adjust to working in unpredictable conditions, but please let Lew or Kyle know if you are unable to connect with the services or personnel you need in a timely fashion.

Library Access: As of 5 p.m. Friday, the Spencer Library will be closed until further notice. Books and interlibrary loan materials will not be available and you are requested to hold on to any materials needing to be returned until we open again. Access to databases containing online, full-text articles remains available to all current students and faculty.

Commencement: Our hope is that by April we will have a better sense of how long the current restrictions on large group gatherings will be in place and can better assess when we can hold a commencement ceremony. If it looks like these restrictions will lift by May or June, we will find an alternate date sometime this summer. If these restrictions carry into late summer, we will likely cancel this year’s ceremony and invite 2020 graduates to be part of the 2021 ceremony. We know this is tremendously disappointing to all of you who have worked so hard and planned on celebrating your accomplishments with your friends and families. Please know that as a staff and faculty, we are heartbroken with and for you. We will keep you updated on these plans as they are made.

Spring Banquet/Awards/End-of-Year Chapel: Despite the potential loss of a commencement ceremony, the commencement committee wants to hold a community event to honor and celebrate our graduates at the end of the semester. United will host a virtual event on the evening of May 1 that will take the place of the Spring Banquet and the End-of-Year Chapel Service. While we are still working out the details, this will be an evening where our graduates share their six-word stories about their time at United, awards are given, and our community collectively blesses and sends our graduates into what’s next with love and light. Look for more information on this event as the committee puts plans in place.

United apartments: Students who live in United’s apartments in New Brighton are encouraged to practice social distancing and follow all health department guidelines regarding group gatherings. We ask that any resident who experiences symptoms contact Vonda as quickly as possible so we can inform others who might be at risk of contagion.

Ministry Lab: In conjunction with UTS safe-practices decisions, The Ministry Lab is temporarily suspending open hours. Please contact Executive Director Emily Meyer for consultations, to access resources, and/or to register for zoom workshops. Visit The Ministry Lab’s website for zoom workshop info (for instance: creating and generation online worship, especially for Easter), and regular offerings of at-home faith formation, prayer and worship resources. The May 12 Spring Sprout workshop will almost certainly be shared exclusively via zoom. Watch the website or contact Emily for updates, to register and for the access link. Six New Things will continue to post weekly. On behalf of The Ministry Lab, be careful, wise, and safe as we journey into this new reality together.

Event Update as of 3/23/20 (All times are CST)

  • April 23 — Leaderwise Training CANCELED
  • April 27-28 United Days CANCELED

New events

While many of our on-campus and community events have been canceled, there is also a great deal of creative planning going on among our students, staff, and faculty to help our community stay strong and connected. We will continue to let you know about these events as they come together. Here are a few to get you started:

Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, 11:40 a.m. — Communal Spiritual Practice. Zoom ID: https://zoom.us/j/7523260011 For more information (and to sign up to lead one if you want to!), go here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/13FcczrTa3nj51a_vyKe3B5Q2uSCS9C5YxYZmmIgmIpA/edit?usp=sharing

Monday, March 23rd, 12:30 p.m. — Lunch Break! Bring your favorite comfort food (or a picture or description of it) and gather for lunch together at Karen Hutt’s Zoom kitchen table. Zoom ID: https://zoom.us/j/7921375937

Friday, March 27th, 10:00 a.m. — Family Playdate Costume Party! If you have kids who love to dress up, let them show off their favorite costume! This is a casual family online hang out hosted by Karen Hutt. (If your kiddos don’t feel like dressing up but you want to join the party, of course that’s fine too!) Zoom ID: https://zoom.us/j/7921375937

Friday, March 27th, 5:00 p.m. — Friday Happy Hour. Grab a cup of tea, a glass of wine, and/or your favorite happy hour appetizer and connect with the United community. Zoom ID: https://zoom.us/j/7921375937

Chapel schedule

Tuesday, March 24, 11:40 a.m. Led by Penny Bonsell. Zoom ID: https://zoom.us/j/7523260011 

Wednesday, March 25th, 1:00 p.m. — Student gathering hosted by United Student Moderators. Zoom ID: https://zoom.us/j/7523260011 

Wednesday, March 25th, 7:00 p.m. — Family chapel led by Edith Bohardt. Gather your kids (pajamas are just fine!) for an online family worship service about faith and fear. This will be a short, kid-friendly service rooted in the Christian tradition. Zoom ID: https://zoom.us/j/7523260011 

Thursday, March 26th, 5:00 p.m. — Afternoon chapel led by United UU Student Group. All are welcome. Zoom ID: https://zoom.us/j/7523260011 


We encourage all students, staff, and faculty to continue to practice the prevention measures recommended by the CDC to protect both yourself and the communities you serve outside of United. This information continues to be updated daily, so use the links below for the most current information. Students who are feeling added anxiety or experiencing other mental health issues related to this situation are encouraged to reach out to Sara Smalley.

General COVID-19 Information