Advent UMC Eagan

Connect, Grow & Serve

Pastor Eric’s blog

Considering Building Use

A Message from Pastor Eric

Our church building has seen very limited use since mid-March 2020. The sanctuary feels different even though it looks the same. The altar area has become a stage for recording acts of worship.  The commons area where people gather now stores equipment needed for outdoor worship. The state of the place reminds everyone life is not normal.

When we first started restricting building activity, it was done to help minimize the spread of the virus. Governor Walz and Bishop Ough appropriately asked us to shut down to help buy time. Health professionals needed time to better equip the medical community to handle an influx of patients. Researchers also needed time to discover effective treatments for COVID-19.

One of the early problems in dealing with this pandemic was both misinformation by unreliable sources and inconsistent recommendations by medical experts. For example, early on experts downplayed the need for masks. Some, like Dr. Michael Osterholm, even suggested they were not necessary. This news became fuel for those who saw mask-wearing as unnecessary. Early confusion continues to shape how people receive information about how to address COVID-19.

Now six months later, our need to be cautious remains, but our understanding of what we are dealing with is becoming more clear. We have learned contact surface transmission is not as likely as first predicted. While attention to cleaning and good hygiene is good, you are not very likely to pick up coronavirus from a door handle. This one piece of information helps us understand how to use our building in the future.

Since the experts have had time to study the virus, we know four basic precautions have produced positive results. These four precautions include:

Washing Hands

Wearing a Mask

Maintaining Appropriate Physical Distance from each other

Staying home when sick.

The greater concern is what doctors call “aerosol transmission.” Aerosol describes the tiny droplets of fluid emitted into the air from our mouths when we speak, sing, cough, or sneeze. Washing your hands is necessary because we touch our mouths more than we realize. Masks hinder the spread of these aerosols but are not perfect. Therefore, we want to maintain 6 feet separation because research has shown these aerosols travel 6 feet.

The other thing we learned this summer came from Senior Living Centers. Living in radical isolation harms people’s mental health. Peggy and I noticed this with her parents. Several other members in the congregation have noticed the same with their elderly parents. 

As we approach a cold Minnesota winter, I fear for our community living in complete isolation from each other. Our ability to meet under the pergola or on the street with friends will come to an end. We need to figure out a healthy strategy to start using our building again for meetings and for worship. 

We know doing this will involve some level of risk. Our job as a staff and as leaders in the church is to provide an environment that seeks to minimize the level of risk. I am confident we can do this, however, people will need to determine how much risk they are willing to accept. Then, we as pastoral staff and caring ministers, will need to figure out how to connect with those who are unable to be present in the building. It will be no small task, but it is an important job to do. I ask for your prayers as we move forward in developing strategies for re-engagement.