Minnesota church leaders, Walz discuss future of services amid COVID-19 outbreak

Governor Tim Walz hosted a call with church leaders from across the state Monday as communities try to make plans in accordance with COVID-19 guidelines.

Church leaders said that while they are eager to get back to worship, realistically, it’s going to be a very long time before they can gather like they did before the virus.

“It’s not going to be, ‘Okay, next Sunday, we’re all going to be together again.' There’s going to be stages that you can do that,” said Pastor Dale Hummel of Wooddale Church in Eden Prairie.

Pastor Hummel said that while they plan to fill the pews again, there are still lots of questions as to how.

“Do you go every other pew? Do you put tape down? Do you say a family can sit here and then imagine six feet away, you’re a single person - that just feels awkward,” he said.

Pastor Hummel was one of several church leaders invited to conversation with the governor today in a call that was closed to the media.

“He wants us to be able to get together as much as we want to…no conclusions, no plans reached yet,” he said.

Most churches have moved online in the last month or so, opening up a whole new way to connect.

“The way we’ve learned to engage in online community, I don’t think you can put that genie back in the bottle. We are connecting with people around the world in ways we never dreamed of,” said Pastor Michael Carlson of St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church in Mahtomedi.

Yet, Pastor Carlson is still eager to get back to in-person services.

“When it finally happens, when we can all worship together, you just get out of the way because these Lutherans are going to go nuts!”

It’s that enthusiasm that is also leading a very intentional and careful return.

“We’re in no rush to do it the wrong way,” Pastor Hummel added.