DES MOINES -- With Vice President Mike Pence slated to visit Des Moines Friday to reopen churches for service, 21 denominational religious leaders will continue to urge Iowa congregations to refrain from in-person worship.
The faith leaders had made similar recommendations when Gov. Kim Reynolds lifted a ban on in-person worship due to COVID-19 concerns on April 28.
The Rev. Ian McMullen, General Presbyter of the Presbytery of Northern Iowa, and the Rev. Lorna H. Halaas, Bishop of the Western Iowa Synod, ELCA, were among the Western Iowa denomination leaders to sign statements that was released on Thursday.
Other faiths included The Episcopal Diocese of Iowa, Catholic Diocese of Davenport, Southeastern Iowa Synod-ELCA, Northeastern Iowa Synod, ELCA, Christian Church in the Upper Midwest, Mid-American Baptist churches of Iowa and Minnesota, Church of the Brethren, Ecumenical Connections of Iowa, Presbyteries of Des Moines and North Central Iowa, Presbytery Missouri River Valley, Presbytery of Prospect Hill, Presbytery of East Iowa, John Knox Presbytery, and Central Plains Mennonite.
Two other faith leaders offered additional comments.
“In the midst of long lines at food pantries, long lines in the emergency rooms, and long lines in the grocery stores, we lament our losses, but we also rise up to the challenge as people of faith to care for all those who are suffering at this time,” wrote Bishop Laurie Haller, Iowa Conference of The United Methodist Church. “As our national leaders live in denial of the extent of the COVID-19 Pandemic, we stand strong in diligently practicing social distancing and refraining from in-house worship at the same time as we advocate for the safety of those who are most vulnerable: the elderly, the poor, our health care professionals, the immigrant workers in our meat-packing plants, and our farmers."
“My Christian faith calls me to live into God’s extravagant welcome so that all may know love, safety, belonging, and dignity,” stated Rev. Brigit Stevens, Executive Conference Minister; Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota UCC Conferences. “These days, I continue to make the choice to stay home as much as possible, and encourage others to do the same, because I know that many don’t have the luxury of that choice. In these times of COVID-19 pandemic, our buildings may be closed, but our churches are as vibrant and active as ever.”