Figuring Out When To More Widely Re-Open FoC
by Pastor Josh Nelson 5/26/20
As we are all wishing and wanting to regroup at church, in person, we do want you to know that your staff and lay leaders are working on this issue. We all pray for that day when we can get back to a semblance of normal, and worship again in person. But many of us, me included, are hesitant to more widely re-open until the risk for getting together as a group has been lowered to a more demonstrable level.
You deserve to know that I am, by nature, a rule-follower and will definitely be listening to our Bishop and Synod, as well as local, state, and national government leaders, as well as epidemiologists such as fellow Lutheran, Dr. Michael Osterholm. Though we are starting to regroup and regather, there are many precautions which need to be set in place. In the first part of June, the FOC elected lay-leaders and our church staff will continue studying and learning to determine when the right time will be for us to start re-grouping in person. We hope to learn a great deal over the next few weeks as to how to safely do this, while keeping our risk as low as possible.
Throughout our own congregation, there will likely be a wide variety of opinions on this matter, with some desiring a return to our regular worship experiences more quickly than others. But it is important for you to know that I won’t be among the religious leaders who will be the first to encourage congregating in person. We want to mitigate the risk as much as possible, not only for our staff and volunteers, but also for any of the more vulnerable members of our faith family. We want them to feel safe, and to keep taking good care of themselves throughout this summer.
Do note that, even with our restrictions in place, we are still being the church. We’ve never truly closed. We’ve changed the ways we are expressing our faith, yes, that is true. But we are still being believers who are creatively enacting their faith. We may not be gathering in large assemblies as we were a few months ago, yet we are still able to do so many of the things that are meaningful to us as disciples of Jesus. We can pray, all of us, at any time. We are not kept from prayer, but I trust and hope that you are daily praying for a whole host of concerns embedded in your hearts. We can praise, and we can and do worship. We are having communion. We can serve others within restrictions, and we can live out our generosity, our kindness, our forgiveness and our love. O sure I wish we could do that together and in person, and that time will come again. But in the meantime, we can keep being faithful followers of Jesus. You are still able to be a believing person, and walk in joyful discipleship. Yes, we are being the church, even in this frightening time of pandemic. In that sense, we have never closed, have we?
Do look at both of these links to learn more about the encouragements that faith communities are being asked to follow:
Minnesota Guidance for Faith Based Communities: https://mn.gov/deed/assets/worship-guidance-ACC_tcm1045-433301.pdf?fbclid=IwAR0Oy88jA6x9JTv6SACvrqGv-LAxYNnv0Qw8vB-UaQ4ZHWnCH4xzpL1-Ask
CDC Guidance for Communities of Faith: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/php/faith-based.html?fbclid=IwAR1TByPCiBMmwo_xhqC8Jw8paTNR_487KzbKRyDEz-BoraA7xshhYtF8mgg