Minnesota Catholic, some Lutheran churches plan to defy Walz's executive order by reopening next week

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Minnesota Catholic and Lutheran churches plan to defy Gov. Tim Walz's executive order by reopening next week. However they did have a call Thursday night directly with Gov. Walz to try and work out a solution. 

Places of worship were left off the list of organizations that can reopen on June 1.

Archbishop Bernard Hebda announced Wednesday evening he will allow churches to reopen next Tuesday. Hebda says he's disappointed with the governor and adds Catholic and Lutheran-Missouri Synod leaders had submitted a plan to the state on May 8 on how churches can safely reopen.

In a statement, Hebda said the governor's remarks on Wednesday further underscored a failure to appreciate the role of the church and other faith groups in serving the community.

"Being ordered to stay at home may have been necessary to protect public health but it came at immense costs, many have measured those costs, economically, physically and mentally but the costs have been spiritually too, now the state deems it necessary to open retail and non-essential businesses, it's time for us to resume our essential sacramental activities," Hebda said.

Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis churches to hold public masses of 10 or less amid new COVID-19 regulations

Pastor Jim Livingston, at the Church of Saint Paul in Ham Lake, talked with KSTP about their plan to safely reopen. The church has been working on it for months. The plan includes strict guidelines for sanitation and capacity would be reduced to 33%.

Livingston said they are ready to join other faiths in a historic moment.

"This is our chance. We are going to be the voice of this generation. And years from now, when they ask us about this moment in time, they will wonder what it was like and wonder how we go through it," Livingston said. "And this is our chance to shine through this experience

Churches are not required to open next week, or at all. The archbishop left it up to the individual parishes to decide, as long as they meet requirements and feel it's safe.

"We were disappointed to find that instead, you allowed retail and other non-critical businesses to open, setting a plan in place for bars and restaurants to reopen while limiting churches to meetings of ten people or fewer. In the absence of a timeline or any other assurances that churches will soon be able to reopen, we find that we must move forward with our religious exercise in a safe manner," a letter from the Minnesota North and South Districts The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod said, in part. 

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"I'm uneasy going against that authority..i think the only way i'd go against that authority, the only reason i'd go against a government mandate if they say we don't allow you to preach the gospel," Said Eleda DeRocker, a Lutheran Church member. 

"The Churches deserve a chance to prove themselves, " said church goer Marty Smith.." If the infected rate "Shoots through the Roof", by all means, reinstate the stay at home order"

Wednesday night a spokesperson for Gov. Walz made the following statement: 

"As the Governor has said, this is a challenging situation for him personally and a challenging situation for him as a public official charged with protecting the health and safety of Minnesotans. He remains in routine communication with faith leader across the state and understands the toll this pandemic is taking on the spiritual health of Minnesotans. Governor Walz and the Minnesota Department of Health will be meeting with the Archdiocese this week."

KSTP has reached out to the attorney general's office for comment but has yet to hear back. 

To see the full letter from the Minnesota Catholic Conference, click here. To see the full letter from the Minnesota North and South Districts The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, click here.