SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — Members of South Dakota’s clergy are applauding Governor Kristi Noem declaring Wednesday as a Statewide Day of Prayer. The proclamation comes as many church buildings will be off-limits during Holy Week.
The bishop of the the South Dakota Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America sees spiritual parallels between the empty pews created by the coronavirus and the empty tomb of the first Easter.
“And for so many of us, this COVID-19 and the CDC recommendations have us encountered death in a certain way. But then we also encounter new moments of life, where communities are just coming together,” South Dakota Synod of the ELCA Bishop Constanze Hagmaier said.
Like many other churches across KELOLAND, the 206 congregations of the ELCA will be offering virtual Holy Week services. The goal is to ensure social distancing even during this most important time of the church calendar.
“We try to discourage congregations from even having parking lot gatherings because we want to be sure that we get the curve flat and not peak anymore,” Hagmaier said.
Hagmaier says it’s important that South Dakotans from all faiths join together in prayer to seek healing from the pandemic.
“I appreciate this calling it a day of prayer, it reminds me of my siblings from other faith traditions that unite with me in prayer and it’s a wonderful opportunity,” Hagmaier said.
Hagmaier acknowledges that not celebrating Easter in-person is disappointing, but she reminds the faithful that the church is far more than just a building, and that members are called to witness to the entire world.
Governor Noem is encouraging South Dakotans to post their prayers of encouragement on social media.