[EDIT: May 14th, 2020]
Good morning, SPLC.

The governor’s stay at home order is set to expire on May 18th, but, a peacetime/’Stay Safe’ order has been set through June 12th. Part of that peacetime/’Stay Safe’ order is to restrict gatherings to 10 people or fewer.
Therefore, we will continue to cancel in-person worship and church activities through at least June 12th (barring any lifted gathering restrictions which we will be closely monitoring).
 
I also recently took part in a virtual conference that was open to faith leaders across the state with a public health expert, Dr. Mark Osterholm, of the University of Minnesota.
It was informative…and sobering. It confirmed what many of us already know: churches house some of the most vulnerable populations. This virus can be dangerous for all ages, but it is particularly lethal to the elderly and those with underlying conditions.
Moreover, Dr. Osterholm emphasized that churches, of course, have practices that if instituted without precautions are some of the most efficient ways of spreading this particular virus (one example he noted was singing in an enclosed space. Contact tracing has led back to many funerals, worship services, and choir practices).
This is all to say, without the availability of a vaccine, we need to be mentally, emotionally, and spiritually prepared for in-person, in-sanctuary worship to either be one of the last things to open back up, or to look very different for possibly a long time when we can come back at limited capacity.
In lighter news, Dr. Osterholm did say he liked the idea of outdoor services, socially distanced, or from people’s cars. The virus in open air is much less easily spread. I am brainstorming the logistics of carrying out a service like that and will bounce it off your council leadership. I am not promising anything, to be sure. There is a technological setup that we would need in order to execute such a service, and I am working on what type of equipment we would possibly have to acquire to make it work effectively.
Again, not promising anything. I’m in the stage of wrapping my head around it first, and continuing to monitor the medical community’s recommendations, and even consulting with family members in the medical world.
I continue to hold you all in prayer. God is with you. You are loved. You are not alone. Keep praying. Keep hoping.
Godspeed, God bless, and God’s peace to each of you.
Pr. Joe

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