During this time of anxiety, it is our goal to keep our eyes on Jesus. We believe that the Lord keeps us in the palm of His hand, and we have faith that He will protect us. As we consider ways to worship together during this pandemic, we believe that God will provide new opportunities for mission in ways that we may not have experienced before.
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has created much concern among our communities and our churches. The Minnesota Conference administration has been monitoring recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), the World Health Organization, and others to ensure we react appropriately given the circumstances.
As of today, March 13, 2020, the Minnesota Department of Health announced a series of community-level strategies to help combat the spread of coronavirus 2019, known as COVID-19. These community-level strategies are aimed at slowing down and spreading out the transmission of COVID-19 in an effort to reduce strain on our healthcare systems.
The key points of the community-level strategies that affect our organization are the following:
- Events of 250 people or more should be postponed or canceled. This includes concerts, conferences, sporting events and faith-based gatherings.
- Events of less than 250 people that are held at venues that do not allow for social distancing of at least six (6) feet per person should be postponed or canceled.
- Events targeted for high risk individuals (the elderly or ill) should be limited to 10 people or less.
- The MDH is recommending that faith-based organizations offer video or audio events to allow for social distancing.
- Non-essential travel should be canceled or postponed.
Decisions to continue services based on various state and federal recommendations are a local church matter. As such, the conference administration is suggesting local church boards meet to make their own determination regarding how to continue services.
We would like to especially encourage our churches to consider creative ways to continue reaching out during this time. Consider the use of teleconferencing or video conferencing for prayer meeting and small group discussions. Some free options for this are FaceTime, Skype, and Facebook Messenger. Offering video or audio streaming, through free platforms such as Facebook or YouTube, may be a way to continue connecting with your community. If your church does not have live stream options, the Minnesota Conference will provide live stream services at 11 a.m. or links to live stream options while this MDH recommendation remains in place. To access the live stream, please visit www.youtube.com.
More information regarding how the Minnesota Conference will be responding regarding Conference-wide events will be forthcoming next week as we evaluate the situation. Please keep in mind that this is a fluid situation, and recommendations from the MDH and CDC may change at any time.
We know that in everything, the Lord is our refuge. As David said in Psalm 91, “Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God and I trust him. For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease…. For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go.” The Lord is our protector and our provider. This pandemic is big, but our God is bigger.