Governor Walz is allowing the stay-at-home order to expire at the end of the day on May 17. What does that mean for us as a church? On Tuesday evening, the Governing Board met and anticipated this move and I would like to share with you some of our thoughts.
We are excited that things are beginning to re-open.
Like everyone, we are looking forward to things returning to something approaching normal life. We are grateful for the efforts of many people to make our online services a good time of worship together, but nothing compares to coming together as a church family.
Our leaders are trying to navigate an economic and health crisis.
We have seen in Europe the results of waiting too long to impose social distancing restrictions. We are dealing with a contagious virus that can overrun our medical system causing unnecessary suffering and death. It makes sense to curtail activities to lessen the infection rate. We also realize that our church gatherings, with their hugs, singing, laughter, and extended times together create situations where it is easy for the the virus to spread. As much as we wish we could all be together on Sunday mornings, we are committed to following the Governor's guidelines for churches as we re-open.
The current emergency declaration will allow gatherings of 10 people who keep proper social distances.
The declaration does not give us the ability to meet together as a church family. However, we want to encourage our members to connect with one another. Why not invite some friends over to watch the service together and have dinner afterwards? All of us are craving time together, so let's do what we can within the framework of the emergency declaration!
At this time there will be no meetings in the church building. The office will remain closed except for operating the food shelf on Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 - 12. We check phone messages frequently and are available via email and SMS and will respond as quickly as we can.
We expect that the Governor will gradually allow the opening of churches and other groups over the course of the summer.
We have been discussing a variety of scenarios depending upon the size of groups allowed to gather. Each scenario stresses the need for proper social distancing, lots of hand sanitizer, and extensive cleaning procedures after we meet. We are also working on how to respond should someone who attends a meeting be found to have been infectious while they were there. There are many details to be worked through in the coming weeks.
There will be adaptations in the way we do things in order to comply with the mitigation protocols that are put in place. One possibility is having a group meet in the Sanctuary and another in the Fellowship Hall, watching the service via video feed. We will be altering things like how the offering is received and how we distribute the communion elements, and what types of children's activities we will be having. We'll have more details about that as the Governor makes more information available.
It will probably be several months before things are fully back to the way things were and there may be setbacks along the way. That's okay. We are part of a missions movement, and that means that we are willing to be flexible in the way we do things and make the most of each situation.
We will continue our video streaming of services for the foreseeable future.
Once we begin holding public services again, we will be live streaming them via YouTube. We recognize that there are a number of people in our church family that are in the high risk category and may not be comfortable meeting in large group settings for some time. In addition, anyone who doesn't feel well will be urged to stay home (no more "powering through" a cold!) in case they are actually coming down with COVID-19. We want our online service to be available live for those who cannot come to the building.
I am looking forward to seeing all of you again in the near future. Use this time of relaxed restrictions to build his kingdom. Encourage one another and share the good news about Jesus!
Word of Life Staff
A place for the Word of Life staff and guest writers to share of themselves in writing with the Word of Life family.