The congregations of the Maquoketa Ministerial Association have each been discerning the on-site ministry plans this week in response to Governor Kim Reynold’s April 27, 2020 Proclamation easing restrictions on religious activity.  “During this unprecedented chapter of our lives, the health and safety of our members and others participating in our ministries is a number one priority, said Pastor Neil Harrison, President, Maquoketa Ministerial Association and Senior Pastor, First Lutheran Church.

Harrison continued, “It’s apparent that most congregations in the greater Maquoketa area will be extending the suspension of on-site worship and other ministry activities until at least mid-May, and some communities of faith will not resume worship until June or later. For example, the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) Jackson County Pastors met early this week and are in absolute consensus that on-site/in-person worship should continue to be suspended, subject to synodical and Iowa Department of Public Health guidance and lay leadership consultation, until at least Pentecost Sunday, May 31, at the earliest, subject to review based on developments.”

Bishop Michael Burk, the ELCA Southeastern Iowa Synod Bishop, announced on Monday that he believed it was premature for congregations to gather in-person for worship and will provide “guidance for how and when we should” return to in-person worship next week. The four Iowa Roman Catholic bishops issued a decision on Tuesday that Mass will not be held in the Iowa parishes “until the number of positive cases, which is spiking right now, decrease….When the number decreases, and continues to decrease for 14 days, then the question will be raised again.” Similarly, Bishop Laurie Haller, the Iowa United Methodist Church bishop issued guidance for all Iowa UMC congregations “to refrain from all in-person worship until June 1.”

The following congregations in Maquoketa have announced this week’s decisions:

East Iron Hill Church:  Determined to not have services until June

First Lutheran Church:  On-site worship and activities suspended until at least May 31

Maquoketa First United Methodist Church: No on-site worship until June at least

Maquoketa United Church of Christ: Not planning to hold worship services before May 31

Sacred Heart Catholic Church:  The Bishop will determine when Catholics will come back to Mass

Most congregations are continuing their pandemic ministry plans, including broadcast worship services via radio, Facebook livestreaming, and YouTube.

“Although we miss being in the sanctuaries and buildings together, the safety of our community is our top priority, Harrison continued.  For now, many congregations will continue to practice physical distancing out of our love, care, and concern for others.”   As plans for eventual return to the buildings are made, most of the congregations are indicating that they will continue to consider guidelines established by the CDC, Iowa Department of Public Health, and Governor Reynolds.  Updates will be shared as new information becomes available.

The Maquoketa Ministerial Association includes clergy and other faith community leadership of the greater Maquoketa area community, including the following Maquoketa congregations:  East Iron Hill Community Church, Faith Community Church, First Baptist Church, First Lutheran Church, First United Methodist Church, Maquoketa United Church of Christ, Prairie Creek Church, Sacred Heart Catholic Church, and St. Marks Episcopal Church. The association also includes Community of Christ Church, Charlotte; Delmar/Elwood United Methodist Church; and Faith United Methodist Church, Baldwin/Monmouth.

For additional information, contact:  Pastor Neil Harrison, President, Maquoketa Ministerial Association and Senior Pastor, First Lutheran Church, Maquoketa, (563) 652-6777 or