River Valley Church will resume public gatherings at one-third capacity starting June 1 despite Gov. Tim Walz’s executive order prohibiting religious gatherings of more than 10 people, the church announced May 21.
The announcement came after the Minnesota Catholic Conference and a coalition of the state’s Lutheran churches sent a letter May 20 to Walz and Attorney General Keith Ellison announcing that Catholic and Lutheran churches would resume at reduced capacity with “rigorous social distancing and hygiene protocols.”
The announcement that River Valley Church sent its congregants mirrored the attitude of the Catholic and Lutheran churches across the state.
“River Valley Church leadership … was disappointed in Gov. Walz’s recent announcement that he would modify the Stay Safe order to allow more commerce but prohibit religious gatherings of more than 10 people,” the announcement stated, adding the church has been in several conversations with the administration about when religious gatherings could resume.
Walz and other officials around the state have canceled large gatherings and restricted business activity in an attempt to limit the spread of coronavirus, which can jump from person to person through coughing or talking nearby.
Most who catch it recover, but hundreds of Minnesotans have died from COVID-19 in the past two months, according to the Department of Health.
The church plans to open with reservations on June 1 and will resume weekend family services June 6 and 7.
“We understand that there is an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19, as well as other contagious diseases, which exists in any public place where people are present,” the announcement stated.
“If you’re vulnerable for any reason we are encouraging you to remain home. If you have any symptoms of sickness or have been around anyone who has shown symptoms, we ask you to remain home from River Valley Church buildings for at least 14 days.”
The mega-church has eight Minnesota campuses, including one in Shakopee, with nearly 10,000 weekly attendants, according to the River Valley Church website.