On May 13th the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down Governor Evers’ Badger Bounce Back phased-in approach to opening up the economy. The leaders of the Wisconsin Legislature have decided not to enact any laws or give any state-wide guidance about how best to reopen Wisconsin. Instead they think it best for local counties and municipalities to decide what is best.
So, now that it seems to be legal to come back to church, some may be asking about when Advent will resume in-person worship. This is a question that the Church Council at Advent has been praying about, studying, and discussing. The short answer is: Advent will remain closed until further notice.
The fuller answer is that we are working on two areas of decisions: One is when will we return? and the other is how will we return and what will it look like when we do?
When will we return will be based on three important considerations:
- Scripture always prioritizes the marginalized and the most vulnerable in society. Thus, as we make decisions about returning we will always keep this as the most important core value. Caring for the children, the sick, the elderly, and those with compromised health will always be paramount in our discussions and decisions.
- The Wisconsin Council of Churches (comprised of over 20 traditions/denominations, including the ELCA) has created a document called “Returning to Churches.” It is a detailed phased-in approach specifically created to provide guidance to churches for returning. The Advent Council is studying this carefully crafted document as we seek to make our decisions for Advent. You can read this document for yourself at the following link: https://www.wichurches.org/2020/04/23/returning-to-church/
- Sound decisions are based on data. The Church Council will review the scientific data as best we can in order to make decisions about when to reopen. Data that includes virus trends, testing ability, contact tracing, hospital and health care availability, and any other relevant data will be considered.
How will we return and what will it look like when we do?
- At this time, it looks like we may return in phases. It may be that we open up first for small groups of 10 people or under. The next phase may be groups of 50 or under and then a final phase beyond that. It is hard to really know at this time. It is highly unlikely that we will simply return all at once to the way it was before the pandemic.
- The Church Council is actively working on the strategic and tactical components of returning so that we are fully prepared when we do. This will include:
- How will we social distance from one another?
- How will we do Holy Communion?
- How will we pass the peace?
- Will we sing?
- If we can have only a certain number in worship at one time, how many services will we need and how will we regulate that?
- Will we require masks?
- Will the church have automatic hand sanitizer stations?
- How will we disinfect between services and other events, including bathrooms?
- Will we still provide an online worship option for those who still do not feel safe returning?
- And more . . .
As we all seek to be faithful to one another and to our community please keep the Church Council in your prayers. The decisions to be made and implemented are very important and difficult. We do trust that with the Holy Spirit guiding and directing or decisions that we will be able to return carefully and as safely as possible in the future. In the meantime, please let the Council and Staff know how we can meet your needs during this time.