Author Topic: Coronavirus news  (Read 589580 times)

Dan Fienen

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Re: Coronavirus news
« Reply #1755 on: May 23, 2020, 01:51:03 PM »

Our Governor has again extended her emergency declaration for Michigan so we are continuing to evaluate when we can return to in (socially distanced) person worship. I will not use the term  reopen the church since that has become the latest casualty of the COVID-19 linguistic wars. (What we call something and how we talk about it has a major impact on what we do about it. If we affirm that even though gatherings have been discontinued, the church has still (in some sense) been open, then perhaps people will not be so keen to resume worship together at the church.


Synod President Matt Harrison posted a thoughtful video concerning the religious liberty aspects of government orders concerning worship. We need to balance our concern for the health and safety of our communities with the importance of gathering for worship. Rules and regulations that limit religious worship should need to meet strict scrutiny, that the restrictions be for a compelling governmental interest and be the least restrictive way to serve that interest.


Dr. Anthony Fauci has warned that staying closed for too long could cause irreparable damage. Reopening too quickly or without proper safeguards is dangerous, but so is delaying opening things back up for too long. The stay at home orders are much more than a minor inconvenience that people should endure until it is absolutely safe to open back up again. Those orders themselves are a risk to the health and safety of our nation and her people.
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Dave Benke

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Re: Coronavirus news
« Reply #1756 on: May 23, 2020, 02:56:28 PM »
Not conclusive, but some findings from scientists in Germany:
https://slippedisc.com/2020/05/two-munich-scientists-pronounce-singing-to-be-covid-safe/

That said, it appears that German churches are opening sans singing.

In the "Interim Guidance for Communities of Faith," the CDC notes:
Consider suspending or at least decreasing use of a choir/musical ensembles and congregant singing, chanting, or reciting during services or other programming, if appropriate within the faith tradition. The act of singing may contribute to transmission of COVID-19, possibly through emission of aerosols.
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/php/faith-based.html

Note that they say "may contribute..."  They have not said that singing in church is absolutely proven to spread COVID-19.

Ha!  When I glanced at what you were saying, I thought you were stating that in Germany since singing is not happening, contribution is optional - you "may contribute."  Therefore, when there is singing, you "shall contribute."  I say this because we just upgraded our PayPal App.  Give - NOW!  (7 second delay) - "The Donation Button is now closed, unless you didn't give sufficiently.  Then it will be re-opened.  We can stay here all day if you want, you know - so Give - NOW!

Dave Benke

Richard Johnson

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Re: Coronavirus news
« Reply #1757 on: May 23, 2020, 03:04:45 PM »

One of my peeves along the way is that we're talking about the "re-opening" of churches.  We have not closed for a minute here in Brooklyn, in the center of the heart of corona death and infection. 

Well said.

Except many of our churches were NOT open.  The doors were locked.  No one was allowed inside, except for staff and the occasional emergency visit.  Bible studies were discontinued.  Our parochial school forced to do on-liine education.  Ladies groups and sewing groups and youth groups did not meet.  Yes, worship continued.  But not with the public.  That is not open, in my book.  So, I have been and will continue to announce that we are re-opening for services on May 31.

I guess it depends on how you understand "open," and what your congregation has done. Our congregation has continued virtually (in both senses of the word) every activity--Bible studies, worship, meetings, Sunday School, our weekly men's group. The only thing not "open" is the building, and that's not the church.

How do you handle communion?

For the present, we don't. We are practicing spiritual communion, utilizing a prayer similar to the ones that were posted here somewhere so many weeks ago now. One of the reasons we're thinking about returning to in-person gathering sooner rather than later is that we want to get that part of it right before returning to the Eucharist, so that we kind of "ease in" to returning to a more normal practice.
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

J. Thomas Shelley

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Re: Coronavirus news
« Reply #1758 on: May 23, 2020, 03:17:07 PM »
Not conclusive, but some findings from scientists in Germany:
https://slippedisc.com/2020/05/two-munich-scientists-pronounce-singing-to-be-covid-safe/

That said, it appears that German churches are opening sans singing.

In the "Interim Guidance for Communities of Faith," the CDC notes:
Consider suspending or at least decreasing use of a choir/musical ensembles and congregant singing, chanting, or reciting during services or other programming, if appropriate within the faith tradition. The act of singing may contribute to transmission of COVID-19, possibly through emission of aerosols.
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/php/faith-based.html

Note that they say "may contribute..."  They have not said that singing in church is absolutely proven to spread COVID-19.

 The most important words of the CDC document are the final sentences of the introductory paragraph:

The information offered is non-binding public health guidance for consideration only; it is not meant to regulate or prescribe standards for interactions of faith communities in houses of worship. Any decision to modify specific religious rites, rituals, and services should be made by religious leaders. Specific preventive actions are provided as examples only.
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David Garner

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Re: Coronavirus news
« Reply #1759 on: May 23, 2020, 03:33:11 PM »

One of my peeves along the way is that we're talking about the "re-opening" of churches.  We have not closed for a minute here in Brooklyn, in the center of the heart of corona death and infection. 

Well said.

Except many of our churches were NOT open.  The doors were locked.  No one was allowed inside, except for staff and the occasional emergency visit.  Bible studies were discontinued.  Our parochial school forced to do on-liine education.  Ladies groups and sewing groups and youth groups did not meet.  Yes, worship continued.  But not with the public.  That is not open, in my book.  So, I have been and will continue to announce that we are re-opening for services on May 31.

I guess it depends on how you understand "open," and what your congregation has done. Our congregation has continued virtually (in both senses of the word) every activity--Bible studies, worship, meetings, Sunday School, our weekly men's group. The only thing not "open" is the building, and that's not the church.

How do you handle communion?

For the present, we don't. We are practicing spiritual communion, utilizing a prayer similar to the ones that were posted here somewhere so many weeks ago now. One of the reasons we're thinking about returning to in-person gathering sooner rather than later is that we want to get that part of it right before returning to the Eucharist, so that we kind of "ease in" to returning to a more normal practice.

That is certainly wise.  I would suggest, though, that there is more than the building that is not open.  The chalice also remains closed, until blessedly you are able to restore it.  That is one reason why I find this, as I think you do, more than a one-size-fits-all problem and solution.  Christian bodies that center their worship around the sermon, hymnody, etc., can "do church" indefinitely virtually.  Christian bodies that center their worship around the Eucharist cannot.
Orthodox Reader and former Lutheran (LCMS and WELS).

D. Engebretson

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Re: Coronavirus news
« Reply #1760 on: May 23, 2020, 03:40:56 PM »
Can you not see how a church service with people close together (or even separated) and singing, moving around and talking with each other for an hour or more is different than standing in line at Walmart?

I'm not sure if you have been out to a Walmart recently, or since the 'quarantine' began, but I have and their precautions will pale compared to what many churches are planning to do once they open. I realize there are some churches that throw caution to the wind and do whatever, but I suspect that many will go the opposite direction.  I know that the protocols we are putting in place at my church are pretty close to others in my area and they are attempting to follow the CDC guidelines very closely.  We will welcome people in, direct them to a pew, space them out with empty pews separating them from others, and then usher them out without any visiting.  We will encourage, but not require the wearing of masks.  When I went to Walmart (prior to my self-quarantine for leaving the state and going to Chicago), I noticed that there were as many without masks as had them, and only one store in my area (Menards) was requiring them.  The plexiglass barriers they erected to protect their cashiers seem useless, as they provide the person with a mere two feet or less, and no protection in the areas they are actually working (receiving money, packing groceries, etc.). They put signs on the floor to encourage one-traffic down each aisle (thus preventing people from having to pass one another), but most do not read these floor directions and there is no one to enforce it anyway.  They count the people coming in, but the sheer number would dwarf most churches, and if you visit the food section you will quickly see how limiting the numbers is fruitless.  Churches are not identical to Walmart, but I'd wager most of our churches will be safer to visit than their stores.
Pastor Don Engebretson
St. Peter Lutheran Church of Polar (Antigo) WI

Norman Teigen

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Re: Coronavirus news
« Reply #1761 on: May 23, 2020, 03:41:39 PM »
I clicked on the link to President  Harrison's message found in Pastor Fienen's post.  The three engines driving this issue for Missouri are: 1) The Becket Fund 2) Alliance for Defending Freedom and, 3) 1st Liberty Institute.  I plan to follow up on these sources.
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Norman Teigen

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Re: Coronavirus news
« Reply #1763 on: May 23, 2020, 03:44:51 PM »
Through careful analysis I can now identify the mysterious James Eivan.  Come on down, Paul McCain.  Show your face.
Norman Teigen

peter_speckhard

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Re: Coronavirus news
« Reply #1764 on: May 23, 2020, 03:46:05 PM »
I clicked on the link to President  Harrison's message found in Pastor Fienen's post.  The three engines driving this issue for Missouri are: 1) The Becket Fund 2) Alliance for Defending Freedom and, 3) 1st Liberty Institute.  I plan to follow up on these sources.
I think you've got it wrong. Those institutions exist in order to take on cases like this, and those who want to take on such cases, such as congregations, denominations, individual church workers, or laymen being discriminated against for religious reasons usually lack the wherewithal and know-how to proceed with a high level lawsuit. So the issue is not who is driving whom, but how agencies with overlapping goals cooperate. 

Weedon

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Re: Coronavirus news
« Reply #1765 on: May 23, 2020, 04:21:44 PM »
Pr. Charlton,

I have to say I found the President’s words helpful and refreshing. The Gov. plan in Illinois would never allow a full opening until a vaccine is found; imagine if we have as much luck as with the common cold! And it’s just unconstitutional on the face of it. There’s nothing unclear about the First Amendment. If it takes a federal lawsuit to prove it, let it happen.

Dan Fienen

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Re: Coronavirus news
« Reply #1766 on: May 23, 2020, 04:38:02 PM »
Through careful analysis I can now identify the mysterious James Eivan.  Come on down, Paul McCain.  Show your face.
I fail to see the significance of this for our discussions concerning the coronavirus.
Pr. Daniel Fienen
LCMS

Charles Austin

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Re: Coronavirus news
« Reply #1767 on: May 23, 2020, 04:47:27 PM »
Jeff-MN writes:
good news... the governor of MN decided he had to uphold (somewhat) the Constitution....

I Comment:
That is exactly the kind of language which is ruining political discourse in our country. “Decided he had to uphold (somewhat) the constitution”.
Nothing at all has been decided about the constitutionality of the restrictions. The governor exercised some discretion, what he can do, and decided to lift some restrictions, which he can do.
Now, remember, we in the churches are still responsible for our actions. If we are careless about how we handle the situation, we will be responsible for what happens.
The Becket Fund and the other quasi-legal groups supporting the protests can make their claims in their fundraising letters.
We in the churches are to be first concerned about how we protect our people and our neighbors. The phony  “constitutional” question is a distraction from that, And serves no purpose other than raising funds for certain groups.
Retired ELCA Pastor. Iowa native. Now in Minneapolis. One must always ponder both the value and the dangers of poking the bear. Aroused and stimulated, the bear usually shows its true self. Or it might leap to an extreme version of itself. You never know with bears.

peter_speckhard

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Re: Coronavirus news
« Reply #1768 on: May 23, 2020, 04:54:28 PM »
Jeff-MN writes:
good news... the governor of MN decided he had to uphold (somewhat) the Constitution....

I Comment:
That is exactly the kind of language which is ruining political discourse in our country. “Decided he had to uphold (somewhat) the constitution”.
Nothing at all has been decided about the constitutionality of the restrictions. The governor exercised some discretion, what he can do, and decided to lift some restrictions, which he can do.
Now, remember, we in the churches are still responsible for our actions. If we are careless about how we handle the situation, we will be responsible for what happens.
The Becket Fund and the other quasi-legal groups supporting the protests can make their claims in their fundraising letters.
We in the churches are to be first concerned about how we protect our people and our neighbors. The phony  “constitutional” question is a distraction from that, And serves no purpose other than raising funds for certain groups.
What is quasi-legal about the Becket Fund? It's a legal defense society committed to freedom of religion issues. RJN recommended them highly to me about fifteen years ago when I had a member involved in a religious freedom dispute with the public school system where she worked.

Charles Austin

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Re: Coronavirus news
« Reply #1769 on: May 23, 2020, 04:56:38 PM »
OK Peter I withdraw the “quasi-“
Retired ELCA Pastor. Iowa native. Now in Minneapolis. One must always ponder both the value and the dangers of poking the bear. Aroused and stimulated, the bear usually shows its true self. Or it might leap to an extreme version of itself. You never know with bears.