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Iowa religious leaders express concern over restarting church services

Catholic bishops say public masses will remain suspended for now.

Posted: Apr 28, 2020 4:53 PM
Updated: Apr 28, 2020 7:05 PM

KIMT-TV 3 – Some of Iowa’s religious leaders are expressing concern about holding church services after Governor Reynolds relaxed social distancing guidelines.

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The four Catholic Bishops in the state, Archbishop Michael Jackels of Dubuque, Bishop R. Walker Nickless of Sioux City, Bishop Thomas Zinkula of Davenport, and Bishop William Joensen of Des Moines, have announced that public masses will continue to be suspended for the time being.

The Bishops issued a joint statement that:

"In light of the expectation that positive cases of COVID-19 will peak in Iowa in the next few weeks, we have decided it would be most prudent for now to continue to follow the liturgical restrictions we have in place, including the suspension of public Masses. Without an effective vaccine or widespread testing and contact data that justifies a change in course, we simply are not at a place where we can resume our previous prayer practices."

To read the full statement, click here.

The Interfaith Alliance of Iowa says 21 denominational leaders from 10 denominations have also signed a statement urging congregations and members to refrain from in-person gatherings, including worship. That full statement is below:

Denominational Leaders Unite:
Congregations should refrain from in-person gatherings
April 28, 2020

"As denominational leaders in the Christian tradition, we are united in our concern regarding Governor Kim Reynolds’ declaration to allow spiritual and religious gatherings in Iowa."

"It was with surprise we learned of the Governor’s proclamation and, as such, we feel compelled to provide clarity and guidance of what it means for congregations to be faithful and safe during these extraordinary times."

"In the spirit of ecumenism, we join together in asking congregations and members across the state to take faithful action by refraining from in-person religious gatherings, including worship. We encourage and hope that congregations will worship and gather in community from afar continuing the use of technology and other means. Decisions to return to in-person gatherings in our congregations should be based on science, the best practices recommended by public health officials, and in consultation with the leaders of our faith communities."

"It is by our faith that we are compelled to love our neighbor. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, that love comes to expression by remaining physically apart. Loving our neighbor, and thereby the whole community, includes putting public health and the well-being of others ahead of the natural desire to be physically present together in community and in worship."

"As faith leaders, our hearts grieve for the immense pain and suffering felt by so many during these times. Whether mourning the loss of a loved one who has died from the coronavirus; facing the economic stress due to the loss of employment, business, or income; feeling isolated or alone; experiencing the stress of managing children and work from home; carrying the burden of uncertainty from the disaster and when a new normal may emerge, we pray you might find strength and hope in God’s unending and ever-present love."

"For the sake of the common good, we ask all congregations, their leaders, and their members to prioritize the safety and well- being of each other, those at particular risk, and those in their broader community. Please love one another and your neighbor by continuing to be in community together from afar."

Rev. Ian McMullen, General Presbyter, Presbytery of North Central Iowa
Bishop Laurie Haller, Iowa Conference of The United Methodist Church
Rev. Brigit Stevens, Executive Conference Minister; Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota UCC Conferences
The Right Reverend Alan Scarfe, Bishop of The Episcopal Diocese of Iowa
Bishop Thomas R. Zinkula, Catholic Diocese of Davenport
Bishop Michael L. Burk, Southeastern Iowa Synod - ELCA
Rev. Lorna H. Halaas, Bishop, Western Iowa Synod, ELCA
Bishop Steven L. Ullestad, Northeastern Iowa Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Rev. John M. Richardson, Interim Regional Minister, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the Upper Midwest
Rev. Jacquline L. Saxon, Executive Minister of Mid-American Baptist Churches of Iowa and Minnesota
Tim Button-Harrison, Northern Plains District Executive, Church of the Brethren
Rev. David Feltman, Ecumenical Connections of Iowa Coordinator
Rev. Kristin Pike, Presbyterian Church (USA), Stated Clerk of the Presbyteries of Des Moines & North Central Iowa
Pat Shipley, Stated Clerk, Presbytery Missouri River Valley
Rev. Richard Francis, Stated Clerk, Presbytery of Prospect Hill, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Elder Amgad Beblawi, Interim Executive Presbyter, Presbytery of Des Moines
Rebecca Blair, Ph.D., Stated Clerk, Presbytery of East Iowa
Rev. Chaz Ruark, Executive Presbyter, John Knox Presbytery
Nathan Luitjens, Executive Conference Minister, Central Plains Mennonite Conference
Susan Janzen, Conference Minister for Ministerial Leadership, Central Plains Mennonite Conference
Amanda Bleichty, Conference Minister for Christian Formation, Central Plains Mennonite Conference

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 589527

Reported Deaths: 7333
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Hennepin1221311726
Ramsey51028871
Dakota45667448
Anoka41421437
Washington26724281
Stearns22139221
St. Louis17682302
Scott17201124
Wright15943139
Olmsted1319098
Sherburne1160286
Carver1044945
Clay812792
Rice8014106
Blue Earth746141
Crow Wing660988
Kandiyohi652083
Chisago592551
Otter Tail572978
Benton565997
Goodhue475772
Douglas464674
Mower464032
Winona452950
Itasca432254
McLeod421658
Isanti417364
Morrison417360
Nobles407248
Beltrami392458
Steele384915
Polk382468
Becker378850
Lyon359850
Carlton344153
Freeborn341129
Pine326722
Nicollet323843
Brown304640
Mille Lacs302452
Le Sueur289222
Todd280632
Cass269628
Meeker254340
Waseca236522
Martin229831
Roseau207919
Wabasha20483
Hubbard187141
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Redwood172936
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Wadena155122
Pennington153619
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Kanabec143424
Sibley142510
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Watonwan13219
Rock128019
Jackson121711
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Pope10956
Murray10609
Swift104918
Stevens90211
Marshall88017
Clearwater86416
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Wilkin80712
Lac qui Parle75022
Big Stone5984
Lincoln5773
Grant5678
Mahnomen5459
Norman5399
Unassigned48793
Kittson48522
Red Lake3957
Traverse3685
Lake of the Woods3223
Cook1610

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 366197

Reported Deaths: 5929
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk57488623
Linn20814334
Scott19960240
Black Hawk15785308
Woodbury15121228
Johnson1445783
Dubuque13355209
Dallas1116198
Pottawattamie11091168
Story1059248
Warren575888
Clinton554393
Cerro Gordo538089
Sioux513874
Webster512193
Marshall482175
Muscatine477499
Des Moines454366
Wapello4297122
Buena Vista424540
Jasper418672
Plymouth400680
Lee375055
Marion361775
Jones298157
Henry291137
Carroll285452
Bremer283960
Crawford265840
Boone263934
Benton256055
Washington253950
Dickinson247843
Mahaska229951
Jackson221242
Clay215325
Kossuth215264
Delaware209240
Tama209271
Winneshiek196934
Page192622
Buchanan190731
Cedar189423
Hardin184943
Fayette184841
Wright184336
Hamilton179449
Harrison179373
Clayton169256
Butler164634
Mills161722
Madison161519
Floyd160342
Cherokee158738
Lyon157741
Poweshiek154733
Allamakee151151
Iowa148324
Hancock147634
Winnebago141731
Calhoun138113
Cass137954
Grundy136233
Emmet134040
Jefferson132435
Shelby130737
Sac130119
Union128133
Appanoose128049
Louisa127849
Mitchell126042
Chickasaw123915
Guthrie121030
Franklin119321
Humboldt118826
Palo Alto112523
Howard104522
Montgomery103338
Clarke99924
Unassigned9770
Keokuk95631
Monroe95129
Ida90334
Adair86432
Pocahontas85322
Davis82824
Monona82830
Osceola78516
Greene77610
Lucas77123
Worth7438
Taylor65712
Fremont6229
Decatur6089
Van Buren55618
Ringgold55524
Wayne53723
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Adams3384
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