Dear NCD Pastors, Church Leaders and Churches,
Yesterday Governor Walz announced that Minnesota’s stay-at-home order will expire at midnight on Sunday (May 17). Beginning on Monday (May 18), a new stay-safe order will replace it (MN executive order 20-56). This new order includes these things:
- Small groups of 10 or fewer are now permitted to gather in-person
- In-person congregational gatherings of more than 10 are still prohibited
- Safe practices like frequent hand-washing, being tested when sick, maintaining social distance, wearing a mask, and staying home when able are recommended.
- Retail stores and main street businesses can reopen at 50 percent capacity
In the months ahead, restrictions should continue to be lifted and in-person congregational worship will likely resume. Regarding questions about when and how to reopen, we recommend the following resources:
- Reopen or Continue with Off-Site? 10 Things to Consider
- Joint Evangelical Statement on Practices to Reopen Public Worship
Moving forward, we strongly encourage each NCD church to reach out to city and county civic leaders and law enforcement. In this, you may encounter differing guidance as some counties are choosing to set aside statewide orders. We acknowledge the difficulty this creates, and trust your judgement as you seek to live out Romans 13 at the local, county and state level.
We find ourselves surrounded by significant tensions and competing priorities. During these times, faithful Christian leaders may come to different conclusions and move forward in different ways. As in all things, please extend grace to your brothers and sisters who share your love for the gospel and biblical convictions yet see the path forward in a way that differs from you.
Likewise, we do not believe this is the time for churches leaders to assert first amendment rights or promote civil disobedience. Instead, we would encourage you to pursue unity (Ephesians 4), cultivate personal humility (Philippians 2), and model a willingness to set aside your individual rights for the sake of the Gospel (1 Corinthians 9).
Remember, too, that older adults and those with certain underlying medical conditions face a significantly higher risk of serious complications due to this virus. Please take this into account in the days ahead. Along these lines, we ask you to pray specifically for our older adult care ministry Cassia (which includes many NCD chaplains, faith community nurses and our historic Elim Care locations).
One more thing. I know firsthand how easy it is to become discouraged during this frustrating season. When you are feeling down in the days ahead, remember the words of 2 Corinthians 4:17-18. This hope-filled passage reminds us that “this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” and lifts our eyes toward the future as we “look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
May God fill you up with the weight of glory and give you confidence in things unseen. And don’t forget, you’re not alone…we are here to help.
Brian Farone | District Superintendent | North Central District