Catholic and Lutheran churches to defy Minnesota gathering ban by resuming services
The Minnesota Catholic Conference and the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod of Minnesota have publicly declared that they will resume in-person worship services on the 26th of May despite state restrictions on religious gatherings. In separate letters sent to Gov. Tim Walz, the ecclesiastical bodies said they would defy a reopening order limiting in-person worship to not more than ten people.
The church bodies plan to follow social distancing guidelines and have a limited capacity for their sanctuaries since they closed them earlier in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The letter from leaders of Minnesota’s north and south districts of the conservative Lutheran denomination explained that they sent correspondence to churches statewide this week telling them that they can reopen next Tuesday and hold their first in-person Sunday worship services on May 31.
The denomination had previously sent the governor’s office protocols that were developed following state and federal social distancing guidelines in hopes that the state would include churches in its reopening plan for businesses and other entities.
“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  people or fewer,” the letter explains. “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.”
In a letter signed by several bishops led by the archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis, the Minnesota Catholic Conference told the governor on Wednesday that it is also disappointed that his May 13th. order on reopening the state will prohibit worship gatherings of more than ten people. The letter explained that the conference is permitting its parishes to resume public celebration on the 26th of May. According to the Catholic leaders, opening on that day will “give us time to be ready for the celebration of Pentecost on the 31st of May.”