resources on reopening for churches & schools 

When Can Congregations Gather Again for Worship?
A message from District President Gibson

The question of when congregations can gather again for worship is important and frequently asked. We are all anxious to restart and frustrated that it is taking so long. Many are hoping that District/Synod will simply provide the magic bullet that grants permission to reopen churches even without the support of local authorities.

With three states and three governors in the PSD, there are three unique plans underway to reopen the states. The Arizona governor’s ruling allowed (from the beginning) for more activity by churches than either Nevada or California. Some counties and cities in California, Nevada, and Arizona, which have lower COVID impact will simply open more quickly. The urban areas will take longer. We all understand the challenge.

The answer is simple and consistent with what we have said from the beginning: 
What do YOUR local civil authorities say you can or cannot do? Please follow it. 
A follow up question that also should be asked is what your insurance carrier will support.

Our position (LCMS and PSD) is that this is not an Acts 5:29 issue (“We must obey God rather than man.”). It is a 4th Commandment and Romans 13 reality to honor and obey those who are in authority over us. It positions us to take a Philippians 2:1-4 attitude by which the church puts the needs of others first, serving the greater community by delaying worship gatherings to ensure health and safety, rather than to push our agenda to gather for worship before it is safe.

Please know that you are in my prayers as your congregation makes decisions for your context.

President Mike Gibson


See below for a compilation of resources to help you think through and prepare

for reopening churches and schools when safe and feasible.

Reopening churches

Vanderbloemen Facebook Live videos:

Pacific Justice Institute (PJI) resources:

CDC Resources:

Concordia Plans Resources:

Facility Reopening Guidance - from the Michigan District

Post-Coronavirus Facility Reopening Checklist - from Smart Church Solutions

Ready to Reopen Church Checklist - from The Malphurs Group

Sample letter from community churches to congregants about reopening plan

Special Barna/Gloo Report: Survey of Church Leaders and Congregants on Returning to Church (05/15/2020)

Legal and HR Aspects of Reopening:

NOTE: Church insurance carriers recommend that a church has their own written plan on how they will reopen and the steps they will take to ensure health and safety – and then follow it. Failure to follow an articulated plan (serves as an agreement between parties) could leave churches open to lawsuits.

State-specific Resources:

50-State Emergency Order Tracker: Roadmap to Restart

50-State Real Estate Tracker; Mortgage, Rent and Utility Relief


Pacific Southwest District-LCMS
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