What is going on between our churches and Governor Walz? Why have our churches announced that they are ready to defy the governor’s church shutdown orders?

You may be helped by starting with this news story from KSTP:

Next, you may want to read the letter from our Lutheran district presidents, but I will summarize.

On May 8th, the Minnesota North and South district presidents of the LCMS, together with presidents of the ELS, WELS, Free Lutherans, and Lutheran Bretheren, and Roman Catholic Bishops sent a letter to the Governor laying out plans to reopen churches under protocols designed by a group of medicial experts and theologians at the Thomistic Institute that have already been successfully implemented in other states and countries. The protocols were sent to receive feedback before we would implement our plans.

I personally spoke with our district president and a staff member at the Minnesota North District on Monday. The governor’s office did not respond to the letter in any way. Instead, last week’s announcement of his new Executive Order EO-56 he outright forbade worship services indoors or outdoors with attendance greater than 10 and announced added penalties including extensive fines and imprisonment for up to 1 year.

Yesterday, at his press conference, he indicated that these restrictions on worship services will continue for an indefinite period of time. Even as restaurants are allowed to have 50 dining outside churches are limited to 10. Governor Walz was asked about this and he fumbled around trying to come up with an answer. The answer he gave seems to admit the inequity and undermine his position, as KSTP reports:

“I confess on this one,” the governor said. “That we struggle on some of these and there is not a perfect answer. I think the logic behind it…. was the predictability of who’s there, but I think you could argue, boy, I see the same people every week at my congregation and the Smiths sat in the same pew every year for 30 years so we know exactly where they’re at, we know exactly where they are.’ I just want to say I think there is a very strong sense of urgency to figure this piece out around churches.”


This leaves us with little choice. We are asking for equal treatment, not special treatment. Moreover, there are not explicit constitutional guarantees given for other sectors of public life that are being given greater freedom than churches. What exact course our congregation will take is yet to be determined.

You can listen to President Woodford, Archbishop Hebda and counsel from Becket in this press call:

Finally, here is a word of encouragement from President Woodford:

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