Going forward, each of our congregations must make its own choices about what risks it will take; there are no absolute guarantees that following a particular program of sanitation will keep your congregation free of contagion. Each of our contexts and each group of members is different. I promise you to give you the best advice I can, and assure you that if I must, I will err in my advice on the side of your physical safety. Our spiritual welfare is in God, and nothing—not even the invisible threat of a virus—can stand between us and the God who loves us. But the virus is real, and our responses are shaped by the advice of medical authorities. We trust in God for our life in Christ; we trust in science for our public health. -Bishop R. Guy Erwin, May 25 2020
A Community Video from Christ, Highlands Ranch CO
California and Nationwide Guidelines
State of California Guidance on Office Workspaces
This document provides guidance for businesses operating in office workspaces to support a safe, clean environment for employees. The guidance is not intended to revoke or repeal any employee rights, either statutory, regulatory or collectively bargained, and is not exhaustive, as it does not include county health orders, nor is it a substitute for any existing safety and health-related regulatory requirements such as those of Cal/OSHA.
State of California Guidance on Limited Services
This document provides guidance for limited services which do not generally require close customer contact. This guidance is intended to support a safe, clean environment for workers and customers. Limited services include those businesses that can provide services while maintaining appropriate physical distancing from customers or the public.
Centers for Disease Control Documents on Interim Guidance for Reopening (Includes Communities of Faith, Daycare, and Schools)
CDC offers these suggestions that faith communities may consider and accept or reject, consistent with their own faith traditions, in the course of preparing their own plans to prevent the spread of COVID-19. In communities deemed by CDC’s guidance to be significant mitigation areas, the risk to the larger community of continuing or resuming in-person gatherings should be taken into account and virtual options strongly considered.
Communities of Faith Resources
Minneapolis Area Synod 2020 COVID-19 Preparedness Plan
As part of our continued response to the COVID-19 global pandemic, the synod has drafted a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan. The goal of our plan, which follows the CDC and OSHA standards related to COVID-19, is to ensure you understand how we will restore daily operations in a way that mitigates the potential transmission of the Coronavirus or any illness at the office.
As an employee, you will continue to have opportunities for collaboration to shape this plan via staff meetings and one on one checks-ins with Management to ensure a smooth transition back into workspaces.
Resuming Care-filled Worship and Sacramental Life During a Pandemic (Ministry Matters)
The Ecumenical Consultation on Protocols for Worship, Fellowship, and Sacraments — an interdisciplinary group of theologians, scientists, physicians, pastors, bishops, and practitioners from United Methodist, Evangelical Lutheran, Episcopal, Pan-Methodist, and Roman Catholic traditions — offers guidance for safe ritual practices for the safety of the general public and for the vitality of Christian congregations. It is unique in its ecumenical range, and is the first to bring experts in liturgical theology into conversation with public health experts.
Returning to Church (Wisconsin Council of Churches)
What future we will find ourselves in depends not only on the behavior of the virus, but on the actions of people – as individuals, churches, communities, and governments. The way forward will not be a matter of following a timetable, but of faithfully discerning the signs of the times, and responding accordingly. It has always been that way for the church: “You have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown….”
A Meeting with Dr. Michael Osterholm: The Pandemic and Reopening In-Person Worship (Zoom Recording)
Dr. Osterholm is Regents Professor, McKnight Presidential Endowed Chair in Public Health, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP), Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Division of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health, a professor in the Technological Leadership Institute, College of Science and Engineering, and an adjunct professor in the Medical School, all at the University of Minnesota. From June 2018 through May 2019, he served as a Science Envoy for Health Security on behalf of the US Department of State. He is also on the Board of Regents at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa.
24 Questions Your Church Should Answer Before People Return (Ken Braddy)
We need to think and plan carefully so we do not endanger people simply because we let our guard down and believed that the Coronavirus crisis had passed. Now, as believers let’s agree to live by faith and not operate in fear, but let’s also agree to be proactive and to act in wisdom towards our members and guests, especially those among us who are most susceptible to becoming infected with COVID-19.
Synod and Church Communications
Bishop Erwin’s Response to California Directives on Gathering – May 25, 2020
Our faith and tradition call us to public worship every Sunday—the Lord’s Day—in worship that for us as ELCA Lutherans has come in normal times to presuppose a service of Holy Communion. We are also accustomed to speaking out our faith in liturgical responses and unison prayers, and to singing our praise with glad voices. Gathering in Jesus’ name, we expect to share with our siblings in Christ a greeting of peace. None of these things will be able to be done in the normal ways under the new guidelines, and many of these practices may not be done at all. A return to public worship now will not be a return to the way things were before.
SWCA, Pacifica, and Sierra Pacific Bishops’ Joint Letter Against Re-Opening for Public Worship – May 22, 2020
It is with concern that we reach out to you today, on the eve of Memorial Day weekend and the last Sunday of Easter, having just witnessed in a televised message by the President of the United States a statement declaring that the nation’s churches should open for public worship this weekend. We understand the strong desire of our people to worship together, particularly on a meaningful weekend like this one. We wish to state for the sake of our church and its people that we believe the advice to re-open this weekend is at odds with the prevailing medical understanding of the course of this virus and the ways to prevent its spread.