See below for ECMN's COVID-19 guidelines and for resources to help your faith community navigate the pandemic safely.
ECMN Re-Gathering Guidelines
When the pandemic began over a year ago, we were all thrown into this crisis abruptly. We had very little information about the novel COVID-19 virus, how it was transmitted, or possible treatments. We were all forced to take decisive action, and that action looked the same for all of us--stay at home, stay safe, and adapt to a new online environment.
Over a year later, we have significant data about COVID-19 and excellent vaccines that are widely available in the United States. While this disease is still dangerous, and not everyone in our communities is yet eligible for vaccination, we are now at a time when our communities can begin moving into a new stage of living with this virus.
During the summer of 2020, we talked about the phases of living with COVID-19 as seasons. Last spring, we were in a blizzard, locked down together. But now, the COVID blizzard has passed, the plows have come through, and the snow is beginning to melt. As we move towards spring, with new growth and possibility, it no longer makes sense for us all to adopt the same course of action in every place. Our contexts, membership and community demographics, buildings, congregational size, etc. are so vastly different. As all those variables intersect with vaccination rates and variation in local mandates and regulations, a one-size-fits-all approach is no longer sustainable, helpful, or even possible.
Because of all this, the decision about when to re-open for in person worship now belongs entirely to the leadership of local faith communities, in compliance with local and state laws. We will continue to provide recommendations and best practices, which can be adapted to fit local contexts.
The medical science is clear: the best way to protect ourselves, our communities, and particularly our most vulnerable neighbors, including children and the sick, is to get vaccinated. As followers of Jesus, loving and caring for our neighbors is our highest calling. We urge all who are eligible to be vaccinated. You can learn more about vaccines and how to get one on the MN Department of Health website.
We are now moving from recommending that you base your decisions on the case rate per/100,000, as this is a better measure of disease spread in the community now that people are being vaccinated. You can find the case rate in your county on Covid Act Now.
The ECMN Building Use Task Force recommends resuming outdoor or virtual worship once cases reach 25/100,000.
Submitting Your Plan
Your faith community still is required by the Minnesota Department of Health to have a COVID-19 business plan. We ask that you continue to submit your plans to the Building Use Task Force. You can submit those plans by uploading them here, and you can expect to hear a confirmation of your submission.
Scientific and Medical Guidance
ECMN is following the guidance of both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Minnesota Department of Health. Please see their websites for the most up-to-date and scientifically accurate information.