MN churches resuming worship, going against Walz order

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MOORHEAD, Minn. (Valley News Live) -- Minnesota churches say they're being treated unfairly by Governor Tim Walz. Many are looking to sue the governor saying if malls can be open, worship services should too. We spoke with church members in Moorhead to see if they plan on having an in-person church before June 1.

Catholic and Lutheran churches across Minnesota are going against Governor Tim Walz's executive orders and resuming worship.

Gov. Walz gave the green light to restaurants, bars, salons and barbershops to open with limitations, but places of worship were told to limit services to 10 people or less.

Many service leaders are filing lawsuits arguing if the Mall of America can be open, why can't church?

The Diocese of Crookston provided a statement here: https://www.crookston.org/bishop/from-the-bishop/1777-lettertowalzadministration

Also, Bishop Michael J. Hoeppner has these comments:

"We Catholic bishops of Minnesota have been working for weeks on safely re-opening our churches for public Mass. As stated, we are united in our conviction that we can do this in accordance with both our religious duties and with accepted public health and safety standards. Our decision to allow public Masses with pre-established protocols beginning May 26 came after considering carefully the worship we owe God and the rights of the faithful to the sacraments, as well as love of neighbor and concern for the common good."

"I think if churches feel like in good conscience, they can gather without endangering their members, they should do it," said Karl Bakkum Melberg's Owner, Our Saviors Church Member.

Karl Bakkum attends Our Saviors Lutheran Church and owns a Christian supply store, Melberg's, in Moorhead.

"It was a catholic bishop said something like 'how does that make sense that you allow dozens of people to gather in a retail space, but there's a church that's built for 2,000 people, why can't there be more than ten people in there?'" said Bakkum.

Mary Suomala Folkerds is the lead pastor at the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Moorhead.

"Instead of focusing our energy on focusing on the things we can't do, we're focusing on all the things we can be doing," said Suomala Folkerds.

She says her church is planning on having their first drive-in service June 14.

"We do want to gather, but we want to do it safely."

So for now, most churches in Moorhead are staying virtual for the foreseeable future.

The Upper Midwest Law Center filed a motion Monday to suspend the enforcement of shutting down churches. They say a hearing on the motion will be at the U.S. District Court on Tuesday.

Church leaders say they plan to keep church capacity at 33%. People would be spaced in pews; there would be one-way traffic and no choir.