May 23, 2020
 
Dear Presbytery of Lake Huron Congregations, Pastoral leaders, Church Leaders, and All:

Yesterday afternoon (Friday, May 22), in a news conference, President Trump identified houses of worship as “essential places that provide essential services,” calling on governors to allow churches and other houses of worship “to open right now.” The President also noted that if governors did not allow churches to open “right now, this weekend,” he would “override the governors.” He ended his comments with the words, “In America, we need more prayer, not less; thank you very much.”  No questions were taken by the President.

Video links to the news conference can be found here and here

We would like to remind everyone that under our Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Constitution, the Session alone has the authority to open and close our church buildings and locations for worship. Under their responsibility “to provide that the word of God is rightly preached,” the Session is responsible to “provide a place where the congregation may regularly gather for worship, education, and spiritual nurture.” The Session also has the responsibility to “nurture the covenant community of disciples of Christ,” which includes “managing the physical property of the congregation in furtherance of this mission” ( Book of Order , G-3.0201a and c).

We encourage our Session Moderators and Ruling Elders to continue to meet these responsibilities and to communicate them to the members of their congregations. At this point, to our knowledge, all Sessions have acted, directly or indirectly, to follow the stay-at-home order of Michigan Governor Whitmer which restricts gatherings of more than 10 persons. Yesterday, that order was extended to June 12.

We encourage continued adherence to these plans and guidelines. We also encourage our churches to follow the guidance issued by our Presbytery Council on May 13, and the “Benchmarks and Protocols” for reopening face-to-face worship. These may be found on the Coronavirus Resource Page of our Presbytery website.

Let us continue to hold one another in prayer as we make our way through this time of the pandemic, fully aware of God’s presence and guidance, knowing that “The Lord of hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our refuge” (Ps. 46:12).

In Christ,

The Rev. Dr. Dan Saperstein, Executive Presbyter
The Rev. Ted McCulloch, Stated Clerk
The Rev. Philomena Ofori-Nipaah, Presbytery Moderator
The Rev. Lindsey Carnes, Moderator of Presbytery Council