Announcement (updated 09-28-2020)Dear members and friends,
Many of you have been asking, “When can we return to church?”
The outdoor services have been wonderful, but we miss regular church, too. Worship. Music. Fellowship. The whole experience.
We are committed to returning to in-person worship. Unfortunately, Covid is still with us, so we need to worship safely. Too many of our members are squarely in the high risk category. It would be unfair to put them at risk or exclude them just to make the rest of us feel good.
The board created a roadmap to re-opening back in May. In creating this plan, we considered the recommendations and advice offered by Walworth County, the State of Wisconsin, the United Church of Christ, the Wisconsin Council of Churches, the CDC, and more. The plan outlined our criteria for gathering in person—first outdoors, then indoors—as conditions improved.
Unfortunately, conditions in Walworth County have not improved. The number of new cases every day is higher now than it was in May, and the infection rate has more than doubled, trending up instead of down.
At our most recent board meeting, we revisited the re-opening plan in light of the latest recommendations and best current thinking. We’ll continue outdoor services as long as we can. However, we all know that the beautiful fall weather won’t last forever.
And then what? “When can we return to church?”
The short answer: It depends.
The long answer: Using the Covid-19 scorecard developed by the Walworth County Public Health Department, we’ll return to in-person worship when:
– the Walworth County Covid-19 scorecard shows 4 green lights,
– the percentage of positive cases is 3% or less, and
– the percentage of positive cases trends downward for 3 weeks.
Please see the covid scorecard for Walworth County, which includes the scorecard and the definition of each stoplight. These stoplights track infection rates, hospital capacity, availability of personal protective equipment, and the speed of contact tracing. As of today, we have three green lights and a red.
The scorecard is updated every Thursday and posted on the main Walworth County Covid-19 page: https://www.co.walworth.wi.us/856/COVID-19. You can also find daily updates on the Walworth County Covid-19 dashboard: https://bit.ly/3kBCcQD.
The hard part: We can’t be sure when we’ll reach these milestones. Even once we get there, we’ll need to check the Walworth County website every week to make sure we still have four green lights, a percent-positive rate of 3% or less, and a 3-week downward trend.
Church will look different when we initially return. We’ll wear masks. We won’t sing. Family groups will sit at least six feet apart from each other. We might even have assigned seats. We won’t have coffee hour downstairs. We’ll continue to offer a virtual option for those people who aren’t ready to risk group gatherings.
“Regular church” will return when the pandemic is declared to be over.
Between now and “four green lights, 3%, and 3 weeks” we need to find creative ways to be the church. The board has been brainstorming, and we welcome your ideas. Suggestions so far have included Zoom bible study, an all-church hike and bonfire, and “Service Sundays” where we come together to do socially distant service projects.
The pandemic has forced us to consider the critical question: What makes us a church? Please help us answer that question. Contact any board member or Pastor Ruth to share your thoughts and ideas.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Your Church Board
All are welcome!
Christian friends from many faith traditions come together each week for worship, mutual support, and community service.
Sunday Worship meets at 10am all year round.
We offer nursery care for children ages 0 – 3 and Sunday School for children ages 4+.
Communion is offered the first Sunday of each month and is open to all. Children are welcome to participate in communion with the permission of their parents.
Our office hours are Monday through Friday, 9am – 1pm.