MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Some local religious leaders are choosing to keep their places of worship closed indefinitely.
Neither Rabbi Avi Olitzky with Beth El Synagogue in St. Louis Park nor Pastor Paul Baudhuin with Aldersgate United Methodist Church in St. Louis Park have a date in mind to welcome people back inside.
“When I look at the science, it says to me that one of the most dangerous things we can do is sit stagnant in a space for an extended period of time,” Baudhuin said.
Both men say they’ve been conducting services online, including livestreams, and it’s allowed them to reach more people than they were before the pandemic.
They say having the support of their congregations has made their decision easier.
Baudhuin says he hasn’t felt pressure from anyone to reopen.
“This notion of ‘pikuach nefech’, of saving lives, really supersedes most of our religious convictions,” Olitzky said. “Health, safety, life, the living. That’s what we need to focus on.”
Gov. Tim Walz’s orders on religious gatherings hasn’t gone over as well with the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.
The Archdiocese confirmed it was in dialogue with Walz Friday.
Walz’s spokesperson said in a statement, “Gov. Walz has had many productive conversations with faith leaders in Minnesota over the last few weeks. The governor’s top priority continues to be the health and safety of Minnesotans, and he looks forward to reviewing the new CDC guidance to better understand what this means for places of worship.”
Financially, Olitzky and Baudhuin say charitable giving has held steady, but Baudhuin says there tends to be a lag during times of hardship before it starts to drop off.