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An Update From the COVID Mitigation Team

In worship this past Sunday, this announcement was shared with our congregation from the COVID mitigation team.

Our re-entry team met this week to discuss the current COVID situation in our communities, particularly with the new recommendations from the CDC in regard to masking. As of right now, the communities we serve are still at HIGH transmission rates for COVID-19, meaning the spread is still prevalent within our communities. However, the new CDC metric to guide masking, which looks at hospital capacity is at LOW for our communities.

At this point, with our current community level for COVID at Low as measured by the new CDC metric, our committee is recommending we move to being mask optional as of the Wednesday 3/9 service. Confirmation, Youth Group and all other meetings that take place within the church can follow this protocol as well. Sunday School, being our members that are the least likely to be vaccinated with many not yet eligible, will continue to be universally masked through the end of the school year. We still strongly encourage those who are not vaccinated or those who are immunocompromised to mask when within our building, to protect themselves and those around them, especially people who cannot yet get vaccinated. We also would like to state strongly that we encourage people to test when appropriate to make informed decisions about their actions and exposures.

We also discussed communion and the theological implications of how it is delivered. To provide a more individual experience, more closely aligned to our Lutheran theology, starting at the Sunday 3/13 service, you will have the option of coming forward with your individual communion cup to receive an individual blessing of the elements. We would also like to respect those who don’t yet feel comfortable coming forward and will still offer a group blessing if you would like to remain in your seat during communion.

If you would like a personal blessing but are unable to come forward and would prefer to have communion assistants come to you in your seat you will just need to let the usher know, much as we did pre-pandemic. For those too young to receive the sacraments, at this time the communion assistant will be putting hands above the head of the youth and giving a blessing without touching them. In order to implement this new practice for individual communion, will need to add volunteers to serve as communion assistants immediately!

Our remaining mitigation strategies regarding length of services, distancing and singing will remain in place at this time. Our team will meet again in a few weeks, and with transmission rates hopefully continuing to trend downward, we may be able to discuss additional changes ahead of Easter services. If community COVID level, as measured by the CDC reach Medium, or there is new guidance from the CDC, DHS or Wisconsin Council of Churches, we will have the option to reintroduce masking as needed to protect our partners in ministry.

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