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As a follow up to my email sent one week ago and considering Governor Kim Reynolds’ statement on Monday, Nov. 16, I write today to encourage us as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in Western Iowa to lead with courage and with a deep compassionate care for our neighbor.

I am aware that Governor Reynolds did not explicitly name Sunday morning worship as a gathering that must limit attendance to fewer than 15 people.

I am aware that in the ELCA authority rests with the people of the congregation. But I am also aware of the number of pastors, members of congregations and people in the communities across this synod who have been exposed to or contracted the COVID-19 virus.

Stopping the spread of this virus is our responsibility together, as people of faith and people of Iowa.

  • Might we as a church put the care for the most vulnerable, the elderly, the young, those with underlying health conditions first?
  • Might we as a church live as servants who put individual wants and demands aside?
  • Might we as a church be the ones who strive to build unity and trust working to stop the spread of this virus that has taken so much from us?
  • Might we once again suspend in the building worship, trusting that God is indeed present as we gather online? 

​Indeed, these are hard days that require hard decisions, but this is the work that we have been given at this time. As people of faith we know that God is with us, ahead of us, inviting us to walk with courage and love.

In prayer and gratitude for your ministry and partnership,


Lorna H. Halaas, Bishop
Western Iowa Synod