Dear NCD Pastors, Church Leaders and Churches,
On Saturday, Governor Walz issued Executive Order 20-62, which updates the current stay safe order to allow churches to gather for in-person congregational worship. In this, congregations “must not exceed 25 percent of the normal occupant capacity as determined by the fire marshal, with a maximum of 250 people in a single self-contained space.” Churches are also required to “ensure a minimum of 6 feet of physical distancing between households.” The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development has issued supplemental guidance for churches to use as we plan for reopening. In addition, helpful guidelines can be found at the MDH and CDC websites.
Regarding questions about when and how to reopen, we continue to recommend the following resources:
- Reopen or Continue with Off-Site? 10 Things to Consider
- Joint Evangelical Statement on Practices to Reopen Public Worship
More important, remember that Biblical passages like Titus 3, James 3, Jeremiah 29, 1 Peter 2-3, Romans 13-14, Acts 5, and Hebrews 10 are helpful as we consider how to move forward. They remind us to obey God, submit to governing authorities, seek the common good, be gracious to one another, and prioritize gathering and encouraging fellow believers.
We want to highlight something each of us is already experiencing. In every NCD church, there are some who feel we need to reopen immediately and others who believe we should proceed more cautiously and hold off until the effects of recent changes can be understood. Likewise, those who are younger and do not have underlying medical conditions often feel their personal risk is low and those who are older or have underlying medical conditions feel their personal risk is greater. These factors, along with the fractured political climate and broader tensions within American society, are revealing a growing polarization and discouraging divisions in our culture, and increasingly, within our own congregations. Church leaders, at their best, stand in the gap, bring people together, foster peace, allow for differing opinions, and model Christian love and understanding. Thank you for all you have done and will continue to do to create a Romans 14 culture within your congregation and proclaim the soul-saving, life-changing, peace-making, anxiety-crushing gospel of Jesus Christ to our broken world.
As your church leadership team works together to develop a thoughtful, principled plan for when and how to reopen, make sure to consider all your options, remembering that the path ahead will likely include a combination of online, outdoor, indoor, small groups and other solutions. And remember to remain flexible as the weeks unfold.
Please know that our district staff is willing and able to provide support, perspective and assistance. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us; we are here to help. You can find our contact information here.
May God give us grace and peace as we navigate these difficult reopening waters.
Brian Farone | District Superintendent | North Central District
P.S. On Monday, June 1st at 10:00 am our district will be gathering online for part 1 of our 2020 NCD district conference. We would love to see you there. You can find more information on our NCD YouTube channel or at ncdefca.org.