Some area churches reopen for worship
When can we open? It is a question which has been on the minds of many church members throughout Faribault County and the rest of Minnesota.
President Trump declared churches essential on May 22, and Governor Walz issued an executive order on May 23, which would allow churches to reopen if they followed public health guidelines.
Congregations now face a new question. To open or not to open?
The decision to resume worship services with congregation members in attendance varies within Faribault County.
Foundation Bible Church (formerly First Baptist), of Winnebago, resumed their worship services on May 24.
“We added another service so now we meet at 8:30 a.m. and 10 a.m.,” Pastor Daren Barnett says. “We split the congregation in half and opened up more areas in the building to maintain social distancing.”
They are also following other public health recommendations.
“We have posted the Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines, we have hand sanitizer and some people wore face masks,” he comments. “People have been conditioned by the news media to maintain a six-foot distance from non-family members so that was not a problem. We are running at or under 25 percent capacity so we are meeting the guidelines.”
Other churches opened on May 31.
For members of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Easton, it was the first Sunday they had a regular service in their church building since a storm damaged the structure in September of 2018.
“We are following all of the guidelines put out by the government,” Deacon Gene Paul explains. “Including the 25 percent occupancy rule. Saint Casimir’s in Wells and St. John the Baptist in Minnesota Lake also opened May 31.”
Pastor Brent Walker of Faith Lutheran Brethren in Blue Earth says his congregation had a May 31 opening and followed social distancing practices.
“We have pews marked off so we maintain separation of people,” Walker shares. “And we have hand sanitizer on hand for people to use.”
Other churches which opened on May 31 include St. Paul Lutheran of Blue Earth and Immanuel Lutheran or rural Blue Earth.
The River of Life Worship Center also resumed services May 31.
“We will be operating within the guidelines,” Pastor Reid Ellis notes. “It will be nice to see life getting back to normal a little bit.”
St. Peter and Paul Catholic Church resumed services with Mass on Wednesday, May 27. Sunday services began on May 31.
Dell Lutheran of rural Frost also resumed face-to-face worship on May 31.
“Our council voted to resume in-person worship services at a meeting on May 26,” Pastor Joe Ocker comments. “We will continue to offer an online option and a parking lot option where people can remain in their vehicles and listen through a FM device.”
Other congregations are waiting a little longer before making the decision to reopen.
First Presbyterian Church in Winnebago and Blue Earth did not open May 31, but are considering opening on June 7.
Trinity Lutheran Church in Blue Earth is continuing to conduct services online and will not open their doors for services at this time. According to their website, they will be following the recommendations of the governor, the Minnesota Department of Health and the South East Minnesota Synod. Trinity has a task force which will meet in early June to study the most recent recommendations and they will update their plans at that time.
Hope United Methodist Church of Blue Earth announced they would not be meeting until at least June 21, when their new pastor is set to arrive.