COVID-19 Updates

Here you will find the latest information on how St. John’s is responding to the COVID-19 situation.

Virtual Connections

While our gatherings are limited, additional virtual options are available. Get more information at the links below:

More on online worship available here and online study options are listed here.

Re-Engagement Plan

Download St. John’s re-engagement plan here. (Rev. August 4, 2020)

Worship volunteer signup

We are working to prepare for the time when we are able to worship together in the building again. One thing we really need to establish is a group of dependable volunteers to help before, during, and after services. Trainings will take place the first week of November and on an as-needed basis. Sign up to help by November 1. Details and sign up here.

October 15: A Message from St. John’s Lutheran Leadership and the COVID19 Task Force

The congregational council as well as the pastoral and program staff at St. John’s has dedicated themselves to discourse that is grounded in who we say we are as a community of faith: 

“Living in God’s Grace, St. John’s Lutheran Church is an inclusive community worshiping together, growing in faith, serving others, and living as witnesses of Jesus Christ.”

They have also relied heavily on this passage from Colossians 3:12-15 as a biblical model for what this looks like in practice, both at the leadership and congregational levels: “As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.  Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.  Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.  And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful.”

Following the example of our congregational leadership, this task force committed itself to do its work within the horizon of this same love of God, which is compassionate, kind, humble, meek, patient and forgiving. As a task force, we are thankful for the work given to us, and for the opportunity to continue providing feedback and direction in the days ahead. 

Task Force Purpose
This task force has been convened to provide direction, advice and information to council to aid in their decision-making process. To be clear from the outset: it is the purpose of this task force to advise our congregational council, but we are not the decision-making body in our congregation. Our elected council leadership is responsible for this aspect of our life together in ministry. 

Task Force Personnel
This task force is composed of professionals from many areas and expertise, including medical professionals, public health professionals, educators and administrators, public service and police, engineers, finance, management, and others. Please review the list below for further information about this incredible group of leaders who have come together to provide direction for our congregational leadership to aid in the decision making process for our worship and ministry life at St. John’s.

St. John’s Lutheran Staff Representatives:

  • Pastor Dave Efflandt, Lead Pastor
  • Deacon Amanda Sabelko, Deacon of Faith Formation
  • Lindsay Colwell, Director of Youth and Family Ministry

St. John’s Lutheran Council Representatives and their Professional Vocation:

  • Sam Marsland, President. Nurse Anesthetist at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester
  • Rayelle Haase, Vice President. Certified Veterinary Technician

Congregational Representatives and their Professional Vocation:

  • Dave Aakre, Retired IBM Engineer
  • Michelle Coy, ICU Nurse and Educator at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester
  • Terry Czeck, Culinary; Certified Food Production Manager with the State of Minnesota.
  • Betty Edgar, Retired Media Analyst and Communications from the Mayo Clinic, Rochester
  • Amy Evans, Public Health Emergency Preparedness Coordinator, Olmsted County
  • Jim Evenson, Police Lieutenant, Rochester Police Department
  • Heather Hilgart, Technical Specialist and Assistant Supervisor, Infectious Disease Serology, Division of Clinical Microbiology, Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester
  • Joshua Larsen, Kasson-Mantorville Middle School Principal
  • Ariana Wright, Kasson-Mantorville Elementary School Principal
  • Tracy Lee, Financial Analyst/Project Manager at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester
  • Jackie Longendyke, Commissioning Professional for Mechanical and Electrical Building Systems

Recommendations by Focus Area
This task force is divided into four focus areas: Data Evaluation, Worship, Building and Facilities Use, and Fellowship and Food Service. Below are the focus area recommendations for moving to “Step 3” (Fully Indoor Worship and Ministry) of our COVID19 plan

Data Evaluation for Decision Making

  • Ariana Wright, Heather Hilgart, Amy Evans, Josh Larsen, Tracy Lee


  • Amanda Sabelko, Jim Evenson, Michelle Coy, Rayelle Haase, Betty Edgar (Ariana Wright, Amy Evans, and Lindsay Colwell)  

Building Needs and Facilities Use

  • Dave Aakre, Jackie Longendyke (Terry Czeck, Lindsay Colwell, & Amanda Sabelko)

Fellowship and Food

  • Lindsay Colwell, Terry Czeck

Task Force Summary Recommendation: October 13, 2020
It is the recommendation of this task force that St. John’s Lutheran should not move to “Step 3” of our COVID19 plan at this time. 

This task force recommends two data points as critical measurements to review: 1) 15.0 or fewer positive cases per 10,000 Dodge County residents on a fourteen day rolling average, AND 2) Less than a 5.0% positivity rate. This task force recommends using the MN Department of Health Weekly Update for data to be used for evaluation. 

As of the October 8, 2020 MN Department of Health Weekly Update, showing an increase in cases (39 out of 10,000) and positivity rates (3.6%) in our county, the particular issues surrounding our facility, the demographics of our membership, and the concern over community spread of COVID19, this task force feels that it would be irresponsible to invite people to gather in large groups indoors for worship at this time. 

This task force has evaluated data, sought out best-practices from other industry professionals and organizations, consulted with our local school district, and explored many possibilities of returning to indoor worship, or, according to our COVID19 plan, what it would mean to move to “Step 3.” This recommendation was reached by “consensus” and was not a “unanimous” recommendation, with a dissenting voice at the table.  However, the overwhelming majority of participants in this task force voiced support for this recommendation. 

Council Decision About Changing Steps: October 13, 2020
Based on the recommendation from the COVID19 Task Force, St. John’s Lutheran Congregational Council has decided not to move to “Step 3” of our COVID19 Plan. This means that we will not be moving into the building for worship or programming at this time. Council is empowering the COVID19 Task Force to continue evaluating the available data, and to make future recommendations for a possible move into “Step 3” of our COVID19 plan. Council will announce further decisions about changes to our COVID19 steps on or before November 15, 2020. We would like to thank all the members of the COVID19 Task Force for their hard work, dedication of time and talent, and faithful approach to this challenging topic.

In the meantime, the task force will also continue to develop a list of volunteers necessary for a whole host of service opportunities, including ushering, cleaning, organizing, and many more. We will need the help of between 14-28 volunteers per Sunday to help provide a safe space for us to return to in-house worship, so if someone reaches out to you for your help, please consider partnering with us to make this a reality!

Worship Times Until Our Next Announcement

Congregational Information Meetings
Council would like to invite you to join them in conversation about what is happening in the life and ministries of St. John’s Lutheran. Topics will include COVID19 Plans, worship issues, decision-making processes, and much more. If you have questions for our congregational leadership, or would like to learn more about what is happening, please come and join them for a meeting.

We will be offering two different types of meetings:

  1. Virtual Meeting via Zoom for the Majority of Our Members:
    1. Sunday, October 25, 2020 at 12:00 noon – access at
  2. Small, In-Person Gatherings at St. John’s Lutheran:
    • Wednesday, October 21, 2020 at 7:30 pm
    • Sunday, October 25, 2020 at 11:00 am

Note: These in-person gatherings will be extremely limited in available space, so we are asking that if you would like to participate in one of these two meetings that you contact the church office to register.

Office Hours

Office hours are currently limited. The office is open Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday 9:00 am – 12:00 noon. Please wear a mask when entering the building, and thank you for adhering to CDC and MDH social distancing guidelines.

Additional Resources

For more information on best practices during this time, please refer to the Center for Disease Control and World Health Organization websites.

Past Messages