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

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 779749

Reported Deaths: 8705
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Hennepin1551991932
Ramsey63983985
Dakota57663527
Anoka54651523
Washington34014332
Stearns28901255
St. Louis24156362
Scott21836160
Wright21662171
Olmsted18423120
Sherburne15716115
Carver1381257
Clay1034999
Rice10062131
Blue Earth977859
Crow Wing9658109
Kandiyohi851698
Chisago847164
Otter Tail8234106
Benton7604112
Beltrami670380
Mower656341
Douglas642091
Goodhue631285
Itasca630887
Winona618454
McLeod604471
Steele592525
Isanti581174
Morrison571569
Becker543464
Polk520080
Freeborn493642
Nobles484952
Lyon462356
Carlton453066
Nicollet440454
Pine433233
Cass432246
Mille Lacs424967
Brown416347
Todd409736
Le Sueur390132
Meeker364354
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Martin331537
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Roseau268027
Fillmore250514
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Faribault223430
Pennington218427
Sibley214712
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Stevens128011
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Norman8939
Grant8129
Big Stone8055
Lincoln7895
Kittson61722
Red Lake5969
Unassigned554124
Traverse5285
Lake of the Woods4824
Cook2460

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 474151

Reported Deaths: 6785
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk74657729
Linn29194394
Scott24733274
Black Hawk20335358
Woodbury19207244
Johnson17988100
Dubuque15834229
Pottawattamie14276200
Dallas14109108
Story1288551
Warren774296
Cerro Gordo6951110
Webster6950111
Clinton6929101
Des Moines667594
Marshall641885
Muscatine6352113
Wapello5936137
Jasper578279
Lee565689
Sioux565676
Marion508191
Buena Vista491746
Plymouth463487
Henry389847
Jones370861
Washington366856
Benton359257
Bremer357168
Boone350937
Carroll346353
Crawford339347
Mahaska322856
Dickinson301052
Clay279133
Buchanan279039
Jackson273546
Kossuth271873
Hardin270249
Tama264976
Fayette260649
Delaware258546
Cedar249526
Page249328
Wright243645
Hamilton233954
Winneshiek233338
Floyd221845
Harrison217777
Madison216925
Clayton214558
Poweshiek211741
Iowa208029
Butler206638
Cass201557
Jefferson201040
Mills199929
Allamakee194753
Cherokee193844
Lyon192941
Hancock187639
Winnebago186633
Calhoun186116
Appanoose180850
Shelby178439
Louisa171052
Grundy168537
Humboldt167727
Emmet167146
Franklin164628
Mitchell164043
Union162637
Chickasaw159318
Sac157924
Guthrie155434
Montgomery142342
Palo Alto142032
Clarke141328
Keokuk139635
Monroe134335
Howard128222
Ida118641
Greene116315
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Lucas113724
Pocahontas111423
Monona108738
Worth10818
Adair105335
Osceola94017
Fremont86111
Van Buren84221
Decatur82612
Taylor79713
Wayne74824
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Adams5095
Unassigned380
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