Pastor Karen’s COVID-19 Update – June 1, 2021


There is good news to celebrate!

  • The CDC 7-Day Positivity Rate for Hennepin County is 2.45% as of June 2.

CDC 7-Day Positivity Rate Tracker

  • The vaccination rate for Hennepin County is trending up. In the city of Minneapolis, 78.6% of residents age 15 and older have received at least one vaccine dose. 62.05% of the population age 12 and up have received at least one dose.,

Mayor Frey Ends Mask Mandate

  • The Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church has moved to the “BLUE” phase. This means that churches can now open with no capacity limits, but social distancing is still recommended in this phase.

  • On June 1, the mask mandate for the city of Minneapolis was lifted, however, Lake Harriet UMC strongly encourages the wearing of masks in worship as a way to stand in solidarity with those who cannot be vaccinated, those who have health concerns that make them vulnerable, and with children who cannot yet be vaccinated. Wearing a mask is a simple thing we can do to love our neighbor and keep everyone healthy. The mask recommendation will continue to be evaluated throughout the summer monitoring COVID-19 cases, vaccination rates and vaccination availability changes. The CDC strongly recommends those who have not been vaccinated to wear masks.
  • Vaccinations are now widely available! Please consider being vaccinated when you are eligible as a way to keep yourself, and your neighbor safe. Check out this link for information about the vaccine, answers to questions you may have, and where to find a vaccine. COVID-19 Vaccine  Your health is a private matter between you and your health care provider. No one at church will ask you your vaccination status. 




What does this mean for Lake Harriet UMC?

In addition to the 9:00a livestream worship service, there are now two opportunities to worship onsite:  9:00a In-person Studio Worship, 10:30a Outdoor Worship (for the month of June).


9:00a   Studio Worship

Beginning June 2, please register for in-person worship on the church website or by calling the church office at (612) 926-7645. This will help us plan and prepare for you, and get a few weeks of experience under our belts! It is anticipated that beginning July 1, registration will not be required.


When you arrive on Sunday morning, please make your way to the Sanctuary. The Commons (lobby) is not large enough to accommodate crowds and maintain safe social distancing. When you enter the Sanctuary, you may notice that things look a little different than they did pre-pandemic. 


  • The pews are marked off to provide for social distancing. Our Sanctuary accommodates 50 people/households that are six feet apart. During the month of June, as we transition into in-person worship, the six-foot social distancing will be maintained. By July we anticipate no longer practicing six-foot social distancing.
  • There are multiple cameras set up to record the pastors, worship leaders, musicians and singers. Worship leaders will be happy and excited to see people in the Sanctuary, and they will also need to look into the cameras for the live stream congregation.
  • The Chancel is set up to allow for social distancing of singers and worship leaders and, the main floor area near the piano has been set up to allow social distancing for band members.
  • Singing softly, humming or listening to the words are all permitted. It may be tempting to burst out into full-throated Hallelujah Chorus type singing, but we are not ready to do that quite yet.
  • Offering – we will not pass offering plates through the pews. Please continue to use online giving or mail your offering to the church.
  • On Communion Sundays (the first Sunday of the month) Communion will be served using pre-packaged, individual containers which include both a Communion wafer and grape juice.
  • Bulletins will include the order of worship, including music to all songs, words to the prayers, Scripture, etc. There will be no hymnals in the pews.
  • At the close of worship, a pastor will dismiss you by pews. Please exit via the front of the sanctuary and go immediately outdoors for fellowship and conversation. The entry and exit will be clearly marked with ropes/stanchions like you would see at a movie theater.
  • It is so tempting to want to greet people with a handshake or a hug. Some will be comfortable with this type of greeting and others would prefer a wave and a friendly smile.


The COVID-19 Task Force, staff and Leadership Council will continue to monitor public health guidelines and will continue to re-evaluate our plan and adjust as appropriate. Plans are being made for fall for worship and Christian education for children, youth and adults. 


If you have questions, suggestions or feedback, we’d like to hear from you. Send your thoughts to


Please be gentle with yourself and others during this time of transition. Re-entering public spaces and crowds can be both exciting and make one anxious. We are hopeful that our June month-of-transition can help us all feel safe, welcome, and respected.

Pastor Karen’s Covid Update – May 1, 2021

Finally, after a long year, there is some good news!

  1. I give thanks for the availability of vaccine and encourage everyone to be vaccinated as soon as they are eligible. Until children and young teens are able to be vaccinated, this is one thing we can do to help keep them, and other vulnerable people, safe.
  2. After a spike in March, the COVID-19 rates in Hennepin County are coming down. At Lake Harriet we have been tracking the CDC 7-Day Positivity Rate, which you can follow here CDC 7-Day Covid Positivity Rate by County. With the vaccination rate increasing in Hennepin County, our Leadership Council recently approved a 4% positivity rate benchmark for opening more in-person, indoor activities (up from the 3% positivity rate goal since February 2021).
  3. We’ve added outdoor worship services at 10:30a in the church parking lot beginning May 2. Bring your lawn chair and wear your mask. The 10:30a worship service will have the same Scripture and sermon as the 9:00a livestream service, along with some easy sing-a-long songs. We can sing outdoors as long as we are wearing masks and socially distanced (6 feet) from other households. There will be special activities for children.
  4. Livestream worship will continue at 9:00a. This worship service is recorded live at 9:00a, and you may watch it then or watch later on-demand. Take Lake Harriet with you when you travel for business, go on vacation or head to the cabin. Did you know that since the pandemic started nearly 20 people have found Lake Harriet online and participated in membership classes? Along with people who are already connected to the church, each weekend we are joined in worship by dozens and dozens more people from all over the metro, the state, and even around the country who have never set foot in our sanctuary but are finding a church home here. Livestream worship has been a great outreach tool! Sharing the link via social media is a really easy way to invite friends to check out our church. Click here to watch Livestream link
  5. 9:00a In-Person, Indoor, Studio Worship – Join us for the recording of the live-stream service beginning June 6. If the positivity rate for Hennepin County falls to 4% or below, Lake Harriet will begin offering in-person worship. We can safely accommodate 50 worshippers in our sanctuary, maintaining six-foot social distancing. You must register in advance. A link will be posted on the church website. There will be a few short, Covid-19 screening questions that must be answered when you register. All participants must wear masks. To prevent the spread of Covid-19, no singing is permitted, but you can hum along, mouth the words or simply sit back and take in the music.
  6. Our response to the pandemic continues to be fluid as the situation continues to evolve. Watch the church website and weekly e-news for news about our pandemic response.


Friends, be safe and be well. Take care of one another. 


Grace and peace,

Pastor Karen Bruins

February, 2021

Covid-19 Plan for Lake Harriet United Methodist Church – Updated February 2021

This document has been prepared using best practice resources from the Minnesota Department of Health and the United Methodist Church.


We anticipate that COVID-19 will shape and change our lives for at least the next year.  How do we, as people of faith, respond to the challenge?  We will respond with courage, faith and lots and lots of grace.


A Prayer for Covid-19
Gracious God,

We seek your grace and your guidance amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.

We pray for those in need of healing.

We pray for those who have died, and for all who mourn.

We pray for those on the front lines, for essential workers, for nurses, doctors, medical staff, first responders, child-care providers, grocers, farmers, truckers and all who are helping us to be safe.

We pray for public health officials, leaders in government, and especially for our Governor Tim Walz as he guides our state.

We pray for scientists and physicians who have developed vaccines and continue to work on testing, treatment and research

We pray for those who are home alone during this time of isolation.

We pray for those experiencing homelessness and food scarcity.

We pray for families who are navigating a whole new way of working and learning from home.

We pray for those who have been furloughed or lost jobs and we pray for small businesses.

We pray for our church, that through acts of love and service we may be a blessing to one another and to the world.

In the name of the Christ, Amen.




Workplace Settings – the staff of Lake Harriet UMC will serve using best practices of health, safety and social distancing.  As much as possible, church staff are encouraged to work at home to limit exposure to the virus and risk of passing on the virus.  Staff are required to wear masks as they enter/exit the church building and as they come into contact with others.  Staff will routinely clean and sanitizes their workspaces. 

The custodial staff will clean and sanitize the building using best practices.  All high touch areas like railings, doorknobs and restrooms will be sanitized daily. 

The hydrostatic sprayer is used 1X per month to spray down all areas of the building.



Ministries of Lake Harriet United Methodist Church

The Covid Task Force recommends re-opening the building for limited in-person worship (up to 50 people) and small groups (up to 10 people) when the CDC 7-Day Positivity Rate falls to 3% or less for Hennepin County.


Worship at Lake Harriet

Lake Harriet has a robust online worship service that will continue. John Wesley said, “The world is my parish” and we believe this is true! People from across the metro area and beyond the state of Minnesota participate in online worship either during the live stream, or later when it is more convenient for them. Online worship will likely be our largest worship service and we pray it will continue to grow. We celebrate what God has done and what we have learned through this experience.


As we look at how to begin limited “in-person” worship again, the following recommendations are made:

  • Place of Worship Guidance:
  • Governor Walz’ Executive Order 20-21 called “Cautious Re-opening” allows for churches to worship at up to 50% capacity, with households at least 6 feet apart, activities limited to ceremonial activities, only food integral to the ceremony is allowed i.e., Communion, must wear face covering. In our Sanctuary we can safely accommodate up to 50 worship participants on the floor of the Sanctuary and 10 worship leaders on the Chancel.
  • Interior doors will be propped open, along with exterior doors (weather permitting) as people enter and exit the building.
  • Hand sanitizer and disinfecting supplies will be available.
  • Worshippers will be required to wear masks unless there is a medical exception.
  • Family/household groups may sit together. Worshippers will be spaced throughout the sanctuary so that the minimum six-foot social distancing can be safely maintained. Pews are cordoned off, leaving the center of pews empty to maintain at least six feet from the next
  • In order to minimize the possibility of the spread of the virus we will use no-touch alternatives for passing the peace, collecting the offering and liturgical resources. All Bibles and hymnal, children’s worship books and bags, pens and pencils will be removed from the pews.  The worship outline, songs, liturgy etc. will be projected onto the screen.
  • One-time use of bulletins will be available. They will be set out on a table to minimize touching.
  • Congregational and/or group singing is not recommended, as it is a way to transmit the virus. Humming or very, very soft singing is encouraged
  • At this time there will not be a formal fellowship time or coffee hour. Minnesota Department of Health allows only for “Sacramental food/drink”, i.e. Communion. 
  • The confined space in the Commons makes social distancing difficult. Guide ropes (like the waiting lines at the airport/movie theater) will direct traffic through designated patterns. You will be encouraged to leave the building and continue conversations outdoors where you can safely practice social distancing.
  • Communion will no longer be done using Intinction (dipping of bread into the common chalice). Pre-packaged wafer/juice cups will be offered.
  • Healing Prayers will be offered, but there will be no laying on of hands or lighting candles.
  • Baptism – families and pastors will consult to make mutually agreed upon plans.
  • Funeral size is limited to help reduce the spread of the Corona virus. Lake Harriet is blessed to have technology that allows for broadcast of a Celebration of Life service.  If an in-person service is desired, current guidelines suggest no more than 50 people.  Funeral receptions are not permissible yet under the Governor’s Executive Order.  Larger gatherings and celebrations of life may also be scheduled when COVID-19 precautions are lifted.
  • Weddings fall under the same current guidelines as funerals with a limit of 50 people. No receptions at this time.  Visitations are not recommended.  If a family wishes to have a visitation, extra caution must be used to ensure safe social distancing.
  • Pastoral Care is available from the clergy of the church. Pastor Karen and Pastor Chris deeply desire to care for you and your loved ones during these challenging times.  We may be reached by phone, email or Zoom.  At this time hospitals and care centers are not allowing pastoral visits.  Pastoral visits online have been working well.



Until public health authorities deem it to be safe, the church nursery will not be open.  It is impossible to safely provide care for infants and toddlers using the six-foot recommended social distancing.


Children’s Ministry

Godly Play and Explore will continue to meet online via Zoom.


Vacation Bible School

Plans are underway for Vacation Bible School 2021.  Covid safety precautions will be in effect for children and volunteers.  Groups will be limited in number.  Extra time between rotating to stations will be added for additional sanitizing. We are planning to do as many activities outside as possible.


Youth Ministry

Youth ministry will continue to meet online, and will also introduce some limited in-person small group experiences. Youth ministry offers outdoor activities and events as safe, fun alternatives.


Camps and Mission Trips

The Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church is offering summer camps and has Covid precautions in place including keeping children/youth in pods, fewer people per sleeping area, use of face covering and social distancing. LYFE Camp will be offered. Appalachian Service Project (ASP) will make a final decision on summer 2021 by April. 


Church Business

Ministry teams and small groups of ten of fewer will be permitted, while wearing masks and practicing social distancing. Online meetings continue to be a safe alternative.


Small Groups

Zoom small groups have proven to be very effective, allowing people to participate in groups from the safety and convenience of their homes. These groups have helped broaden the geographical reach beyond the immediate neighborhood of the church building. Therefore, even as some groups may choose to begin to meet in person, many small groups will be held online, while others may have people participating both online and in person.


Large Group Gatherings

At this time no large group gatherings like concerts, plays, choirs, outside groups etc. will be permitted. Lake Harriet will continue to monitor recommendations from the Minnesota Department of Health.


Fulton Farmer’s Market

The Farmer’s Market will take place this year, with vendors spread a safe distance apart. The church building will not be open to the public and no restrooms will be available.


Election Polling Place

As of February 2021, we have not heard if Lake Harriet UMC will be used as a polling place in 2021. 


Thank you for your patience and understanding as Lake Harriet strives to minister safely to all. This situation remains fluid. Stay tuned for updates and fine-tuning of these recommendations.




November 5, 2020

Bishop Bruce Ough, because of the rise of Covid-19 cases, recommends dialing back to ORANGE in our Covid Response Plan.  He writes,

A look at how spread has increased in Minnesota over just the past few weeks (the numbers listed are cumulative since the start of the pandemic):


For all these reasons, we are turning the dial on our phased re-gathering plan back to orange. Doing no harm, acting for the common good, and protecting the most vulnerable among us is how we love our neighbor. What this means: I’m asking you to limit your in-person gatherings to 10 people or fewer while wearing masks and maintaining social distancing. Group gatherings have been the most significant source of the spread of COVID-19 in recent weeks. We have the power to help change the trajectory of this pandemic.


To read the full article please click here:

COVID Response Returns to ORANGE


What does this mean for Lake Harriet UMC?

The Leadership Council voted on 10.24.2020 to

  • Continue to live-stream worship services, with no in-person worship
  • Small groups and in-person meetings are limited to no more than ten people. Masking and social distancing required.
  • Funerals are a powerful way to remember, honor and grieve the loss of a loved one. Unfortunately, they are also occasions where the potential exists for the virus to be transmitted.  LHUMC recommends small family-only services at the church or the graveside, with a larger, public celebration of life at a later date.  Funerals to be held at the church are limited to 50 people (which includes those helping to lead the service, musicians, tech people etc.). Our Live-Stream equipment provides a safe way for family and friends to experience the funeral service from the safety of their homes.  At the recent memorial service for our beloved sister Ginny Ekstrand, many people viewed the live-stream, with several taking time to write to express their gratitude for the technology.

The Leadership Council continues to carefully monitor the situation.  Decisions about in person gatherings are revisited every 90 days. 



At Lake Harriet UMC we take the health and well-being our congregation, staff, and community very seriously. We are monitoring coronavirus (COVID-19) updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), medical professionals, and local health departments. In addition to ongoing efforts to maintain a safe and healthy environment, we have temporarily implemented the following precautionary measures.



  • If you or a family member is sick, may have been directly exposed to the virus or have traveled to a high-alert area (currently South Korea, Iran, Italy, Japan), please follow the CDC guidelines and refrain from attending church services during the 14-day incubation period and instead worship with us online Sundays at 9:00 and 11:11a.
  • If at any time you are not comfortable attending worship, please join us online.
  • Follow the guidelines from the CDC to help prevent the spread of the virus. (General CDC guidelines are listed at the end of this information.)



  • Our staff and volunteers are committed to maintaining a healthy environment and will wash their hands frequently.
  • Staff who are sick or may have been exposed to the virus will stay home for the recommended quarantine period.
  • We will suspend all routine, ongoing visits to our home-bound or shut-in members to prevent the possibility of spreading germs to them. We will continue to visit people in more emergency situations.



  • In addition to regular cleaning by a professional cleaning service, we are sanitizing highly touched surfaces before and after worship and programs.
  • We have hand sanitizer available throughout our building, and we have additional hand sanitizing supplies on order. As we await delivery, you may want to carry your own hand sanitizer so you can use it as often as you wish.
  • Rather than pass the offering plate, baskets will be placed at the Sanctuary entrance to receive weekly offerings and welcome sheets.
  • We will suspend offering Holy Communion via intinction (the common cup) and now serve precut bread and grape juice in individual cups.
  • When greeting one another, we encourage you to consider options such as: smile, use sign language, a friendly wave, a fist bump, an elbow tap, a slight bow, say “shalom.” Our staff and volunteers will still greet you warmly, just not shake your hand.
  • During Sunday coffee fellowship, cookies will be individually wrapped with napkins and handed to each person by a gloved volunteer.



  • We are not canceling small groups and classes at this time, but we encourage you to use precautions appropriate for your own personal health situation.
  • If coronavirus continues to spread in our local community, we will follow the guidance of the health department and CDC.
  • As a regular practice in our Sunday children’s enrichment hour classes and the nursery, we disinfect all surfaces and toys and encourage frequent hand washing, however keeping your child home if they are symptomatic is the best way to prevent the spread of illness.




  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.