+Bishop Jon V. Anderson
Our state government offered guidance about our lives and about gathering for worship yesterday, May 20, 2020. Here are the links that might be helpful to you:
- Minnesota’s Stay Safe Plan (May 20, 2020)
- Guidance for Faith-Based Communities Considering In-Person Services
Minnesota Department of Health, Updated May 13, 2020
- Guidance for Faith-Based Communities
Minnesota Department of Health, April 14, 2020
By now most of you are aware that the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod’s districts and the Roman Catholic dioceses of Minnesota have decided to go forward in returning to worship, contrary to state and federal guidance.
- Catholic, some Lutheran churches defy state order to limit worshipers, Article posted by the StarTribune
- Letter from the Minnesota Catholic Conference
- Letter from the Minnesota North and South Districts of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod
Some quick thoughts.
First, there are many kinds of Lutherans. It is a good time to teach about our different ways of being Lutheran Christians in a respectful way.
Second, the Roman Catholic statement is significantly more nuanced than the headlines. It is built around their understandings of the place of communion in their life of faith. The statement to their people gives permission for priests and parishes who wish to begin celebrating the mass to do so according to their intense protocols. It also gives permission for people to not attend worship. Finally, it gives permission for parishes who are not ready to offer mass to more than ten people to wait.
I have been in multiple meetings with different religious and political and health/safety leaders of this state over the last couple of weeks. I am not surprised at these developments. I have heard these Christian traditions’ concerns. They point out that for Christians gathering for worship is an essential matter. I respect their right to share their thoughts. I respect their right to engage in civil disobedience. I pray this goes well for our sisters and brothers in Christ.
There have been and will continue to be in our church body, synod, conferences and congregations deep discussions about what the best path forward as we respond to this virus. We are not all of one mind. My best wisdom has come down in a different place than the communities of faith who are named above. With the other bishops of Minnesota, I continue to recommend that we respect the federal and state guidance on gathering for worship.
There is an important distinction being made between drive in worship in parking lots and face to face worship (in buildings or outside of buildings). If you own your congregation’s parking lot and if you can find ways with technology to not offend neighbors or break noise codes in your context you may want to explore this approach. This option is being explored by some congregations in your synod.
- Vehicle Gatherings/Parades Guidance
Minnesota Department of Health
I give thanks to God for your faithful leadership and all the work that you have done to serve the Gospel in the midst of this time when people so much need to hear the Good News that God is for us and with us. May God continue to bless your spiritual life, your community of faith and our ongoing journey through this time. I am confident God will pull and lead us through this chapter of our life.