New guidelines on in-person worship and gatherings
Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, Covid-19, in January, a number of countries, and now the U.S., have put in place a number of policies to restrict the spread of infections by this novel virus, including banning or restricting foreign travel., recommending the cancellation of large group events, increasing the testing for the virus, and promoting wearing of masks and social distancing practices. Wisconsin is among the majority of states that issued stay-at-home directives at the outset and have implemented phased reopening as the numbers warranted over the summer. Steps have been taken to alleviate the economic consequences through provision of temporary paid sick leave, direct payments to individuals, small business grants, and extension of unemployment benefits.
Churches, non-profits and schools have responded with closures, cancellations of meetings and services, adoption of social distancing and strict hygiene for essential activities, and substituting online meetings and events for in-person gatherings. A number of dioceses of the Episcopal Church have decided to suspend worship services for the time being, including the Dioceses of California, Chicago, Connecticut, Maryland, Virginia and Washington (D.C.). Others are adopting stricter protocols for the administration of Communion, and conduct of worship. The Bishop of the Diocese of Fond du Lac directed congregations of the diocese to suspend in-person public worship and in-person meetings in the spring, and starting in June allowed in -person worship for up to 10 persons. This was later increased to 25 percent of a church’s capacity. With the spike in infections in September, the bishop has tightened the limits on in-person worship to no more than four, and suspended all other in-person activities at churches.
In his March 16 letter, Bishop Gunter said it was not a decision he took lightly:
“It is about balancing our need to gather for worship over against our need to love our neighbor and not spread the disease.”
As Bishop Gunter stated in his earlier letter of March 13, we need to be prudent but not panic. The nation and world are facing a serious pandemic that is evolving and will have an impact on the shared life of the church. “Let us remember first of all that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. . . . The essentials of the Christian faith never go away, no matter how challenging the times, give thanks to God in all things, love God, love your neighbors, say your prayers.”
NOTIFICATIONS FROM THE DIOCESE AND PARISH
Back to the Buildings Guidelines updated September 29 2020
Back to the Buildings Guidelines for a safe return to church facilities
Grace Church, Sheboygan is live streaming its liturgy on Sunday 10:15 am. The liturgy will be streamed on the parish’s YouTube channel. And St. Thomas, Menasha and Intercession-Beloved Community in Stevens Point are live streaming liturgy on their Facebook pages: Intercession St. Thomas.
Washington National Cathedral is live streaming the Daily Office and Holy Week services. Liturgies may be viewed here.
Liturgy of the Word will be filmed at St. Luke’s each week and posted by Sunday on the parish’s YouTube channel. The readings will follow the lectionary for the given Sunday.
NEWS BRIEFS (click here)
Bishop and Task Force issue guidelines for celebrating the Eucharist during pandemic
Door County Emergency Response Fund donates over $35,000 to local groups
Governor Evers issues stay-at-home emergency order effective March 25
Door County YMCA program centers closing March 18
Tax filing deadline extended 90 days
Back to the Buildings Guidelines from the Bishop’s Covid-19 Task Force
For information on the pandemic: