Updated Message from Bishop Jung and Covid-19 Taskforce
January 19, 2021
My beloved Wisconsin siblings in Christ,
I greet you in this New Year. 2020 has been a wilderness challenge for us, but we are a people of the Good News – we are not through the wilderness yet, but we are striving toward the Promised Land.
I am reminded of God’s promise through Moses to Joshua from Deuteronomy 31:7-8, “Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel: ‘Be strong and bold, for you are the one who will go with this people into the land that the Lord has sworn to their ancestors to give them; and you will put them in possession of it. It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”
I want us all to hear the promise of Moses – God is with us. God will not fail or forsake us. We should leave behind fear and dismay and trust in the Lord. It is easy for us in Wisconsin to think we are through the wilderness that the COVID pandemic caused, because the numbers of new cases are falling. But as we look at the rest of our country, we see that there is still a long way to go.
But we have good news of vaccines, and a deeper commitment to wearing masks, and healthy social distancing. Our churches have been praised and affirmed for not holding in-person services and meetings, for taking every possible precaution to protect each other, and to use creative means of staying connected.
We may need to continue this way for months to come, but with the brightening light of the Promise Land, growing ever brighter. I am so proud of all the precautions and safety measures our laity and clergy members have taken. Well done, good and faithful stewards. Now let us stay the course for the necessary months ahead so that when we return fully to our sanctuaries and churches, we do so with assurance that all will be well, healthy, and thriving.
We understand the deep desire for gathering and being together, but we also need to be aware of, and understand, the risks that gathering poses.
Like John Wesley’s Three Simple Rules, we have adapted Three Simple Rules for Re-Entry:
- Be Cautious
To determine your best next steps as a local congregation, we recommend that you follow your local County Health Department Guidelines for gathering. Information pertaining to your county’s guidelines and county/public health numbers can be found here: Wisconsin County Information
We encourage your leadership team to access the vaccine information on the Wisconsin Health Department website and share it with your congregation. We also encourage everyone to get a flu shot if they have not done so already.
We ask that you remember John Wesley’s rule of “Do No Harm” when making your decisions for re-entry. Please remember the vulnerable in your congregations and communities when developing your re-entry plan.
- Be Gracious
We ask that you show grace to those who may have differing opinions of what the re-entry process may be for your church and congregation. Be gracious to those who may choose to remain in a virtual setting, or choose to safely worship in person, whether that be laity or clergy.
We ask that you encourage one another while making these hard decisions. Work collaboratively and creatively with one another. Remain respectful of the decisions that your laity and clergy leadership are making regarding whether to open the building or not.
- Be Flexible
Be mindful that cases, vaccines and information are changing daily. Remain flexible with your re-entry plan knowing that you may have to pivot back to virtual. Make a plan that has tiered phases to it so that you can quickly adjust without having to have an “all or nothing” plan.
Finally, please remember to follow the CDC guidelines of social distancing, mask-wearing and proper hygiene. CDC Guidelines
Experts are recommending proper ventilation and air purification systems.
Matching grants, through the Conference Board of Trustees from the Groat Bequest for Rural Ministries Foundation account are available to support technology projects that improve virtual accessibility for rural churches. For more information or to apply, please click here.
Know my beautiful Wisconsin people, I am praying for you all. I think of all of you daily, and I rejoice in your faithfulness through these difficult days. Let us put 2020 behind us – taking with us all that it taught us – to enter 2021 stronger, smarter, healthier, and more faithful than ever before. Bless you. Thanks be to our God.
In Christ’s Love,
Hee-Soo Jung, PhD