COVID-19: Where we are now

By Rev. Rick King
July 30, 2020

As we watch COVID-19 case counts surge in Southern states, we’ve been spared the worst of that here in Minnesota, so far. But that only holds as long as we keep wearing masks, physically distancing, getting tested, and monitoring any symptoms.

This is the dangerous period, when we’re all tired of how long this is going on, and are tempted not to wear a mask, just this once, or hug that person, or venture into indoor spaces we wouldn’t have entered even a month ago. God wants us to continue to care for one another in love.

The battle against community spread will be won with unheroic, consistent measures—and above all, caring for each other enough that we practice safety measures for others and not just ourselves. I’m so glad to hear and see that so many of you continue to practice love in these simple ways.

That said, each community and group is feeling its way toward carefully resuming some activities. At Falcon Heights Church, we’ve had parking lot gatherings, and recently, I polled our two Bible study groups about members’ openness to an outdoor, masked, physically-distanced gathering of 10 people or fewer. On Aug. 2, we’re holding an in-person, physically-distanced, drive-in or lawn chair Communion service in our parking lot (details in this week’s TAB). We’re hosting a concert in the parking lot Aug. 9.

Safety guidelines

We’re emphasizing the following safety guidelines:

  • All participants use face coverings. Wear a mask or meet your maker.
  • Participants (individuals or family groups) maintain 6-foot social distancing at all times.
  • If participants are staying in vehicles, the vehicles need to be parked 6 feet apart.
    If participants wish to sit outside, they must provide their own chairs and maintain distance.
  • No materials, food, or beverages will be shared.
  • The church building will remain closed, including restrooms (go before you arrive).
  • Hand sanitizer will be available for those wishing to use it.

But all of these are experiments done on a one-time basis—to see how we can practice safety procedures and be in healthy community, in person, and gain information that helps us plan for the future amid the remaining uncertainty. We’ll also continue to be a polling place in the Aug. 11 primary and the Nov. 3 general elections, and so our custodial service will resume cleaning our building the first week of August in preparation for the primary.

Not reopening yet

None of this means we’re reopening. Our church continues to do well meeting virtually, and our church’s COVID-19 Response Team and I have gotten no feedback from any of you, pushing us to reopen. So, although we’re doing some more in-person events, it’s not a trend; we don’t have a building-opening or in-person gathering date yet. Until Minnesota gets the spread under control, we can make plans for these things but not implement them.

Remember: We care for each other and our wider communities of which we are a part. We are good neighbors, and we have a responsibility to those whose lives are linked with ours. Our Stillspeaking God says so!