On Thursday (Dec. 9), Milwaukee County released its weekly statistical reports about COVID-19, and the news is not good. Of their four color-coded indicators, three are “red” (most severe), and the fourth is “yellow” (caution). Last week, our existing protocols indicated that we should have put St. Paul’s back in “Condition RED.” We chose not to, for the reasons below, and I don’t regret that. But I am concerned that the numbers now are worse. Our entry into the holiday season, along with the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, suggest that we should take these numbers seriously. The severity of the pandemic in Milwaukee County pushes the limits of their own pandemic risk scale.
I’ve conferred with the Reopening Team, and am revising our current COVID protocols. Existing protocols remain in place, except as noted below. Until further notice:
- Sunday in-person worship will continue, thanks in large part to high vaccination rates within the congregation.
- Every member of the choir are fully vaccinated, and most have received their booster. However, we are halting congregational singing.
- Adult Formation will gather this Sunday, Dec. 12 in the community room, and subsequent Adult Formation sessions will be online on Zoom.
- Unless your physician advises differently, every person is strongly urged to be fully vaccinated, which includes applicable booster doses. The vast majority of COVID hospitalizations are of unvaccinated patients. Except as noted below, we will not be checking vaccination status. However, we are asking that unvaccinated people not attend in-person gatherings at the church.
- Protocols around the Dec. 19 Lessons & Carols service are not yet fully defined, but because we expect large numbers of visitors for that event, proof of vaccination will be required at the door.
- On Sunday mornings, the congregation will be invited to leave the building promptly after any service ends, without remaining for conversation in the church.
The Reopening Team has no delusions that these protocols will make everyone happy, and their necessity is grievous to us. But the more important goal is that we keep everyone safe, while striving to preserve our mission imperative to gather safely for beautiful and edifying worship. We are grateful for your patience and cooperation.
The core message of Advent and Christmas is that in the midst of our darkness, including the reality of deprivation and death, God is with us and will set us free from every bondage. Our calm, courage, and constancy through these difficult times are a sign to the world that God’s promises are real and true. Thank you for your care for our common life, and devotion to the God we love.
Blessings and best.
The Rev. Lane Hensley✠
Important Related Messages