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Northland places of worship faced with difficult reopening challenges

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DULUTH, MN-- For some Northlanders, Sunday marked the return to in-person worship services for the first time since the middle of March. But for others, the wait will continue.

On Friday, President Donald Trump announced that he wants places of worship to reopen deeming them "essential". 24 hours later, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz announced churches can open starting May 26th.

However, for the Vineyard Church in Duluth, services will continue to be online.

"Our vision, our mission as a church is to love and serve people. So we plan to open as soon as we can do that consistent with our mission, constant with loving and serving people," said John Kliewer, Associate Pastor at the Vineyard Church in Duluth.

Instead, leaders at Vineyard Church will do what they have been doing for three months now. Serving their people online.

"Church is still alive and well in the midst of this pandemic in serving people. We have been able to serve people through our food shelf, through reaching out, praying for them. We've seen God doing many things in people's lives through our online services to connecting virtually. God can certainly do that," added Kliewer.

In Eveleth, Woodlands Bible Church opened their doors to the public Sunday going with the President's announcement instead of waiting on Governor Walz.

"We religious convictions, we cannot push one more Sunday. That was the final straw. It's been 10 plus weeks and we've been trying and being patient, and trusting the Lord through this and then it reached a point where well now we feel that we are in violation of the scriptures and so we have to obey God at this point rather than man," said Nathan Shaulis, Pastor of Woodlands Bible Church.

Leaders at Woodlands Bible Church encouraged church-goers to wear masks. They also blocked off every other pew to help people social distance. Hand sanitizer was also made available to those in attendance following CDC guidelines.

"It's five pages that you print off and they give guidelines on how to safely open churches. And so they included nurseries in that as well. We just wanted to keep it simple and not complicate things," added Shaulis.

Some other Northland places of worship that opened their doors Sunday also include Northwoods Chapel and Grand Rapids Baptist Church

Ryan Compeau

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