Campus Closure & Reopening Update: August 2020

 In Coronavirus Updates, Featured, News

The decision to close our campus in March due to COVID-19 was difficult, but the decisions around when and how to reopen our campus have been far more challenging. Pastor Jeff Marian led a video conversation with several members of our staff discussing our latest thinking about reopening our campus. That video is posted below, followed by a Q&A that addresses questions we’ve heard from our staff and disciples.

 

Q – Many of us are longing to return to in-person worship together, so one of the questions we hear most often is, “If other churches are back on their campuses worshiping, why aren’t we?”
A – Every one of our Prince of Peace staff would dearly love to get back to worshiping together in the Sanctuary. We all miss being in community. However, at this time we do not believe that we can adequately protect our staff and disciples from infection if we gather for worship. Professional sports, colleges and universities, and so many other organizations have made the same choice because they believe that the risk is too high. At this point in time we believe that continuing to worship online is the wise choice and expresses our love for the safety of our staff, congregants and neighbors.

Q – Why haven’t we at least had outdoor worship? It’s such a strong part of our history?
A – On the surface, outdoor worship seems like a “no brainer”, but the reality is more complicated. At this time, we don’t have a physical space for outdoor worship. We no longer own the equipment necessary to broadcast a service into people’s car radios. And while we gave serious consideration to offering a service in a local park, the logistics, safety concerns and burden on our staff quickly became unmanageable.

Q – What is the decision-making process for when ministries can start again on campus?
A – Lead Pastor Jeff Marian, and Finance Director Jane Victorey, form the Executive Leadership Team of Prince of Peace. Together they listen to the Holy Spirit, the staff, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, local and national governmental bodies, other churches and community organizations. They weigh all the available information and make a recommendation to our Board of Directors. The Board has the ultimate authority at Prince of Peace.

Q – We’ve chosen for this season to worship online. What’s our biblical basis for doing that?
A – It’s easy to confuse form with function. The function of worship is to focus our hearts and minds toward God, to give God our thanks and praise. In-person worship is one form that allows us to do that. Online worship is another. The function of worship hasn’t changed; the form of worship has. Remember that Christian worship started in homes nearly 2000 years ago!

Q – What about pastoral acts such as baptisms, weddings and funerals?
A – All of our staff, including our pastoral staff, continue to work and are available to walk alongside disciples through times of both celebration and grief. Due to medical needs, some baptisms have taken place offsite. While many weddings have been postponed, some are taking place off campus. In the event of a death in the family, please call the Church Office at 952-435-8102 to discuss next steps with a pastor.

Q – How might worship look different once we are back on campus?
A – We are presently limited to 250 people in the Sanctuary at any given time, including staff, volunteers and musicians. We would likely take reservations, take temperatures, and register people as they enter the building, require masks, and sit with proper distance between families. Singing may be limited since it has proven to be one of the most prolific ways to spread the virus. It may not be possible to celebrate Holy Communion safely. Fellowship (hugs, handshakes and coffee) won’t be possible. In other words, for the foreseeable future even onsite worship won’t be like it was before the pandemic.

Q – What’s happening with Family Ministry?
A – CDLC Preschool will open on campus in the fall. The need for socialization and education is high, and safety protocols have been established. All other Family Ministry will be online in September. Starting in October, we will consider hosting Student Ministry small groups on campus with masks, registration, physical distancing, etc. We believe that by starting small we can learn quickly how to best protect people from infection.

Q – What about Mission Outpost and the Dental Clinic?
A – Mission Outpost is slowly expanding services. They are currently training volunteers on new safety protocols in preparation for reopening this fall. The Dental Clinic is also reopening slowly with new safety protocols, due to the need in the community. Information about hours and services can be found on our website at popmn.org/mission-outpost and popmn.org/dental.

Q – When will leadership re-evaluate expanding ministry on campus?
A – Jeff and Jane are in constant conversation around these issues. They will likely announce any next steps in early September.

Q – What is Prince of Peace offering online, and how can people stay connected?
A – In addition to online worship and Family Ministry, we are offering online small groups, online support groups and pastoral care. The Engage Bible Study will also take place online beginning Monday, September 7.

 

Thank you for your patience and understanding as we navigate these uncertain times. We understand that you may still have questions – we do too! Please leave your questions in the comments and we’ll try to address them in future video conversations or blog posts in the coming weeks.

– Jeff Marian, Jane Victorey & the Board of Directors

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