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Greetings Minnesota Ministers!

As we continue along this journey, I’m so grateful for the Lord’s never-failing leadership in our lives, and in our churches. This morning I was reminded that he sees the end from the beginning. My mind was drawn to Psalm 121, “…where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over you!” Our lives, our families, & our ministries are under his watchful eye. His promise is simply that he will not let our foot slip, his care is all encompassing.

As I read this passage, I was reminded of a past trip to Ethiopia I was privileged to be part of with several youth pastors. One of our days included a journey up a fairly steep cliff to an ancient church. We were each given sure-footed donkeys to ride up the cliff – it was quite a sight. Our job was to just endure the ride and let the donkeys do the hard work. Time & time again, one of my donkey’s feet would slip from under him on the loose terrain, but he never stumbled. None of us were necessarily experienced riders, but we were forced to put our trust in the animals. I’m so grateful we have someone much more reliable than those four-footed beasts. Today, and every day, he knows what lies before us. “The Lord watches over you.”

Ever mindful of God’s promises, we continue the exciting and challenging journey through Covid-19. Yesterday, we heard from our Governor that some of the current restraints are about to be lifted. Effective Monday, May 18th, the “stay at home” order will be lifted and replaced with “stay safe Minnesota”. Some stores that have been shuttered for two months can gradually begin to open on Monday, provided they have a safety plan in place. Following is a paragraph from Executive Order 20-56 that gives some definition to the slight loosening:

  • 6. c. “Gatherings. All gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited. Gatherings are groups of individuals, who are not members for the same household, congregated together for a common or coordinated social, civic, community, faith-based, leisure, or recreational purpose – even if social distancing can be maintained. This prohibition includes planned and spontaneous gatherings, public and private gatherings, and indoor and outdoor gatherings.”

Another portion of Executive Order 20-56 gives further direction regarding churches (other places of public accommodation). My understanding of the following paragraph is that more information regarding the process of reopening churches will be made available next Tuesday, May 20th.

  • 7. b. “Plan to reopen bars, restaurants, and other places of public accommodation. The Commissioners of Health, Employment and Economic Development, and Labor and Industry are directed to develop a phased plan to achieve the limited and safe reopening of bars, restaurants, and other places of public accommodation beginning on June 1, 2020. This plan will be ready for presentation to the public no later than May 20, 2020.

According to this Executive order, next Tuesday we should receive at least the first step of the process for reopening churches. The reopening is scheduled to begin June 1st, which means Sunday, June 7th, would be the first potential Sunday for “in-person services” under the Governor’s plan. Many of us were hoping for an earlier opening, but nevertheless this is good news in that it gets the process started. Please reference last week’s email for things to consider in the process of reopening. Now is the time to be preparing!

A closing reminder that General Council affiliated assemblies are self-governing. Churches not yet having met the General Council status guidelines, however, and who are currently MDC “affiliated or supervised” assemblies, must abide by the Governor’s guidelines and timetable. All churches are to have a policy/plan for reopening, and MDC “affiliated or supervised” assemblies are asked to communicate your plan to your presbyter prior to opening.
Thanks once again for your diligent leadership of his church all across Minnesota! He will not let your foot slip as he continually watches over each of us.

With love and appreciation,
Mark Dean