Dear Common Ground friends,

We know everyone is anxiously awaiting news of when and how things will reopen and we wanted to give you an update on where we are. This past week the team tasked with determining these things met. In the course of that meeting it was decided that in person worship will not resume before July 15th and we will be reevaluating that date in the coming weeks as the group continues to meet.

Also, at this point we are not anticipating opening our building to CGUMC small groups before worship is available in person. We are also evaluating when and how we can once again allow outside groups that rent our space to return.

Our meeting was fruitful and offered many varying perspectives. Everyone acknowledged the importance, difficulty, and the weight of the decisions we are making. We want to be very transparent with everyone as to what we are considering in this process. Along with one another’s perspectives we are looking at information from the CDC, the governor, our MN Annual Conference of the UMC, and our Vision and Mission at CGUMC. We the pastors also reached out to our District Superintendent Rev. Susan Nienaber for advice and a perspective of what is happening within our district.

We know this is an extremely difficult time for everyone and we are all longing to be together again. We are also aware that there is still a very real ongoing pandemic and that church as we are used to it is a high risk activity. Rev. Nienaber shared with us that most UMC churches in our district are not opening yet and are being recommended to worship online or worship outside if they must gather in person. At this point at Common Ground we are able to have a better, safer, and more inclusive worship experience online than if we were to meet in our parking lot or inside our sanctuary.

While our staff have been doing a phenomenal job on our online worship, we recognize that this option is not ideal for everyone. If you are unable to access our livestream please contact our Director of Multimedia and Digital Outreach, Eric Ryberg, at eryberg@commongroundumc.org for other options.

Even though we are still worshipping at a distance there are ways that we can continue to be in community. Each week after worship there are virtual coffee hours that are hosted. If you would like to host or participate in one of these coffee hours please contact our Director of Children’s and Youth Ministry, Erika Knight, at erika@commongroundumc.org. Another way that we can worship together while being outside of our building is by worshipping in small groups. We recommend connecting with others from Common Ground and meeting to watch the live streamed worship service outside while observing CDC recommendations for proper social distancing. These are two small ways for us to stay connected and more will arise as we continue to learn and be creative in this time.

We know that no matter what decisions are made there will be some who agree and some who disagree. We want to remind everyone to have grace with us, this subgroup, and one another during this heightened time. We are all doing our best and we want to live our Wesleyan call to “do no harm” to the fullest as well as our vision that Everyone Counts.

Grace and peace,
Pastors Amelia and Andrew Buschena