A Note from the Bishop's Office about In-Person Gatherings

and Re-Opening Buildings

While the bishop does not make decisions about reopening buildings for any congregation, I do make recommendations based on the knowledge I have from public health officials. Then church councils and pastors make decisions and determine the terms under which they will gather.

The ongoing pandemic requires that we continually reevaluate what are best practices for our congregations. Every time your council meets, it is important to revisit the conversation because the situation keeps changing. While it is tempting to make decisions based on what others are doing, I urge you to make decisions based on care and concern for the most vulnerable among you and to heed the best informed science you can. Remember that most of our congregations' worshiping members would fall into one or more "high risk" categories.

The state of Wisconsin is only second to North Dakota in its rise of Covid-19 case numbers right now, and La Crosse County has the highest per capita rate in the country. Therefore, it is NOT recommended to meet in person at all right now. If people must meet in person, it should be outside, in very small groups, for under 30 minutes, with masks on and staying at least 6 feet apart. Being inside dramatically increases the risk of spreading the virus.

This updated document contains links and recommendations to the best information we have right now about if, when, and how to gather.

La Crosse Area Synod Recommendations

"Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all." Romans 12:16-18

Thank you for the ways you continue to follow Jesus and the compassion and kindness you show to one another.

Bishop Arends

 

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Bethany Lutheran Church, New Lisbon, WI

Church Council Meeting Minutes

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Council Members present: Mark Hansen, Michaele Korbein Tim Parker, Barb Parker, Cindy Costello,

Debby Hansen, Galen Lingl, Karl Katuin, Don Powell, Kathie Means

Council members absent: Marcia Adams, Pastor Wendy Ruetten

1. Call to Order: Mark Hansen called the council meeting to order at 6:32 p.m. Council members were spread out at different tables in the fellowship hall. This meeting was moved up from September 30th previously scheduled due to the insurance premium payment due September, insurance quotes received, and an insurance presentation that was scheduled.

2. Devotions: This was skipped so all could hear the insurance presentation Rosemarry Pittsley and Barb Parker of State Farm.

3. Secretary's Report: July's Council meeting minutes were presented. Don Powell made a motion to accept the July Secretary's Report, seconded by Karl Katuin; motion passed 10-0.

4. Treasurer's Report: The reconciled July and the to-date August general checking, special and general savings, and memorials reports were present. Roof Fund is now $25,650.23. All bills received through today are paid due to continued offerings and donations of time by the office secretary. Thank You to everyone for continuing to support the work of the church -we are very blessed! Cindy Costello made a motion to accept the Treasurer's reports as presented, seconded by Barb Parker; motion passed 10-0.

5. Pastor's Report: --Nothing. Update on Pastor is under Old Business.

6. Committee Reports:

a. Education: --Nothing.

b. Evangelism: --A letter is being discussed to send to the members.

c. Long Range Planning: --Nothing.

d. Property: A vacuum breaker hose bib was installed as per the notice from the city. Grounding wire on furnace was rectified as per the notice from Alliant.

e. Social Concerns: Collection for Health Kits is continuing. A collection bin is inside the front entry doors for people to drop off items. Colored bath towels, nail clippers and large-tooth combs are needed.

f. Stewardship: --Nothing.

g. Worship: Nothing new.

7. Old Business:

a. TV system: Installation is almost done -need to get a new splitter for sending the signal to the front TVs.

b. New Microphone: The new microphones are here.

c. Church Re-opening Thoughts: The recommendation from Synod is that we are still not ready to open. The thought is to wait until after school starts reconsider, as we are an older congregation and want to be cautious. There are requests to continue worship through Facebook even after re-opening.

d. Pastor Wendy update: Plans have changed. Pastor's health is still a concern, but she would like to start working again September 1 and start preaching again September 13. Both Pastors will be off on the 6th, so both will be back here on September 13.

8. New Business:

a. Insurance Quotes: Three quotes for insurance were reviewed, discussed and compared for the church, the parsonage, and work comp: GuideOne, State Farm, and Brotherhood Mutual. Galen Lingl made a motion to accept the quote from State Farm, seconded by Don Powell. Motion passed 9-0 with 1 Barb Parker abstaining. Loss History will be re-forwarded to Barb.

b. Snow plowing contract: So far only one company was suggested, but everyone will continue to look for other contractors to compare.

c. Secretary Postion: Laurie Lawrence informed Mark Hansen that she will be resigning as of September 1. We need to find someone to do this again. He will ask Betty Krotzman if she would be willing to do this again as she already knows most of what the job is.

d. Community Supper -September 29: Because of Covid, this has changed to a drive-through event, so no volunteers are needed this year.

9. Next Meeting: To be determined.

10. Adjourn Meeting/Closing Prayer: Tim Parker made a motion to adjourn, seconded by Karl Katuin; motion passed 10-0. The Lord's Prayer was prayed in closing. The meeting adjourned at 7:31 p.m.

 

 

 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

A Note from the Bishop's Office about In-Person Gatherings

and Re-Opening Buildings

While the bishop does not make decisions about reopening buildings for any congregation, I do make recommendations based on the knowledge I have from public health officials. Then church councils and pastors make decisions and determine the terms under which they will gather.

The ongoing pandemic requires that we continually reevaluate what are best practices for our congregations. Every time your council meets, it is important to revisit the conversation because the situation keeps changing. While it is tempting to make decisions based on what others are doing, I urge you to make decisions based on care and concern for the most vulnerable among you and to heed the best informed science you can. Remember that most of our congregations' worshiping members would fall into one or more "high risk" categories.

The state of Wisconsin is only second to North Dakota in its rise of Covid-19 case numbers right now, and La Crosse County has the highest per capita rate in the country. Therefore, it is NOT recommended to meet in person at all right now. If people must meet in person, it should be outside, in very small groups, for under 30 minutes, with masks on and staying at least 6 feet apart. Being inside dramatically increases the risk of spreading the virus.

This updated document contains links and recommendations to the best information we have right now about if, when, and how to gather.

La Crosse Area Synod Recommendations

"Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all." Romans 12:16-18

Thank you for the ways you continue to follow Jesus and the compassion and kindness you show to one another.

Bishop Arends

 

 

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 

Received from the Wisconsin Council of Churches 

 

September 21, 2020

With eight Wisconsin cities occupying positions on a list of the twenty US cities with the fastest rising numbers of COVID cases as of mid-September, we continue to urge caution in gathering the church in physical locations. At this time, we do not advise gathering indoors. Outdoor events are much safer than indoors. Online options are preferred.

That being said, we continue to be contacted by churches seeking recommendations for safer choices around gathering indoors. As we have our first cooler days and evenings this fall, this becomes a more common question. Please remember there is no way to gather in person which eliminates all risk of transmitting COVID. There are only safer choices we can make to reduce the risk to ourselves, those around us, and the community at large. Our choices are an expression of care for self and neighbor; they are profoundly faithful decisions.

IF your church is committed to resuming worship indoors, here's a summary of some of the best information we have curated from our conversations with health officials, scientists, and other research. This is not medical advice or a guarantee. Always check with your insurance provider and wider church officials about their recommendations and requirements before proceeding.

SAFER CHOICES FOR INDOOR WORSHIP and CHURCH ACTIVITY:

Limit attendance and maintain a list of who is present in case it is needed for contact tracing. An online tool such as signup genius can help with tracking seating availability.

Commit to physical distancing (6 ft+) and wearing face masks. Keep a low-touch environment. Organized seating and dismissal by ushers can help with distancing.

Strongly encourage flu shots! Health officials are recommending flu vaccination by October.

Projecting one's voice as a worship leader (preacher, liturgist, chanting) creates as much aerosol as singing. Maintain additional physical distance in the chancel, wear a mask, and avoid sharing microphones. Plexiglass shields are generally unhelpful.

Abstain from congregational or choral singing. See the resources linked on our website. Some alternatives: recordings, reading hymn lyrics, meditative listening, hand signs, sign language, clapping, rhythm instruments, dancing.

Maintain your online worship options. If your only online offering is streaming your "live" in-person worship option, pitch your delivery to the online audience more than the audience in the sanctuary.

Avoid eating together indoors. This is a high-risk activity. Be diligent with physical distancing and hand hygiene if proceeding with Eucharist/Holy Communion. Follow the most strict health protocols of your ecclesiastical authorities.

Ventilation:

Increase the amount of air that comes from outdoors: open windows if possible, but avoid the use of fans.

Prop doors open to reduce touchpoints and increase fresh air.

Consider investing in a higher quality filter for your HVAC system. It's a marginally higher expense but will increase protection.

Room air filters and other gadgets being marketed for COVID have pros and cons. See the HVAC webinar on our Youtube channel for more detail.

Cleaning:

Be especially diligent about cleaning high-touch surfaces like light switches, doorknobs, faucets.

Invest in a good stock of cleaning supplies and paper products.

Make sure soap dispensers and hand sanitizer dispensers are always full, garbage cans are regularly emptied.

Ideally, leave worship space empty for 2+ days after events to reduce the risk of transmission via aerosols (fine droplets dispersed in air that linger for a long time) or fomites (viral particles that land on surfaces).

What is your plan for:

Committing those in attendance to your re-gathering expectations? Do you have a covenant that people should sign? Who will enforce masking or distancing expectations? What will you do if someone does not follow the expectations?

If someone who has attended church is diagnosed COVID+?

If there is a COVID outbreak associated with the church?

Stepping back from indoor worship – is there a number of positive COVID cases in the community or church, or % positive cases, or some other measure that will be your guide to pausing indoor worship for a time?

We urge you to plan ahead: nearly every county in Wisconsin has a high level of COVID activity right now. With exponential spread, community health can change rapidly. Be prepared to modify your plans to keep parishioners, staff, and clergy safe and healthy as the situation evolves.

This document was developed by Wisconsin Council of Churches staff with input from religious leaders, local church pastors, scientists and public health experts. This is not a formal policy statement of the Council. We recommend that you consult your ecclesiastical authorities for final guidance. Released September 21, 2020.

 

 

 

 Martin Luther on the Pandemic

 

Sixteenth century Reformer Martin Luther wrote almost 500 years ago about responding to pandemics. When Luther was confronted by questions about how to respond to the Black Death Plague, he responded in words that should serve to inform our approach to the pandemic crisis our nation and the world is now facing today.

 

In a letter to Rev. Dr. John Hess, found in Luther's Works, Volume 43 P. 132, as "Whether one may flee from a Deadly Plague," Luther writes:

 

"I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine and take it. I shall avoid places and person where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance inflict and pollute others and so cause their death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me however I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely as stated above. See this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God."

 

COVID 19 RESPONSE

I have been asked by a few people why the councils and I made the decision to move to virtual worship as the pandemic moves forward.

 

First of all we are bound by our consciences. Please know these decision are not made lightly.

 

We feel a sense of responsibility to listen to the Wisconsin State of Health Organization who recommends that we get creative with our worship styles and that gathering in close proximity isn't good for anyone.

 

The Wiscons Council of Churches has also put out a statement regarding worship habits.

 

The ELCA (and the LaCrosse Area Synod) have recommendations as well. Please know that the majority of congregations are trying to be safe.

 

Any of these guidelines are on the internet, but please read the entire documents, not just a portion of them. We are not the only denomination who is doing this. Much depends on the county and area in which you live. Please know that churches have councils and pastors to discuss and make decisions together. It is how we operate. While we are hopeful that this will not last as long as it might, know that we are looking at reopening as usual some time this fall. In the meanwhil we wait for that time to come. Thank you!

 

FAREWELL

 

It is with great sadness that we say goodbye to Stephanie Lawrence as our accompanist here at Bethany.  She has resigned after 17 years of faithful service to us and to our church.  Thank you Stephanie for all your hard work and faithful playing!

 

We also say goodbye to Laurie Lawrence as church secretary.  She has been a faithful servant and resigned as of September 1 ( we know where Stephanie gets it!).

 

Betty Beller Krotzman has come back to help us out on a limited basis.

 

Message from JIM ARENDS, BISHOP

LA CROSSE AREA SYNOD 

ELCA 

 

Dear Friends in the La Crosse Area Synod,


We are living in interesting times. I am glad I have been sharing them with you.  It is empowering and hopeful to witness what Christ is doing through us as congregations and as synod in the midst of this pandemic. You continue to ensure that the Word of God is proclaimed to our members, to our neighbors and to the world. You continue to feed the hungry, connect with the lonely, protect the most vulnerable among us, and witness for justice.  Thank you for what you do in the name of Jesus.


It is my honor to continue to serve with you beyond my two terms in office. I appreciate the opportunity to be a part of our transition to ministry in an epidemic and divided world. I am thankful that I can aim us toward ministry together with our next called bishop. But it is now time for a change.


Since we began postponing and finally cancelled the 2020 La Crosse Area Synod Assembly, I have been discerning with family, friends, colleagues and our Presiding Bishop. Through much wise council and with a sense of peace I am announcing that I will retire as Bishop of the La Crosse Area and as a called pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America on December 31, 2020. I choose to do so for the wellbeing of the synod and for my health and life as husband, father, grandfather, and one with enough years to follow some wisdom.


Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton has already begun a search for an interim bishop to serve starting January 1, 2021, until a newly elected bishop can be installed. I will be available to interim bishop for consultation. Between Now and December 31, I will continue my bishop's duties with full focus and will begin guiding the synod's work toward the transitions to come.


I will be forever grateful for the honor of serving as your bishop. The relationships, the ministry, and the opportunities have been blessing after blessing after blessing. Thank you for your partnership over the past twelve years. Thank you for understanding it is my time to retire. Thank you for your prayers for Lynn's and my future.


Praying peace and blessings for you all,


Rev. James A Arends, Bishop


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Message received Wednesday, September 23...please read.




FROM BISHOP ARENDS

A Note from the Bishop's Office about In-Person Gatherings

and Re-Opening Buildings

While the bishop does not make decisions about reopening buildings for any congregation, I do make recommendations based on the knowledge I have from public health officials. Then church councils and pastors make decisions and determine the terms under which they will gather.

The ongoing pandemic requires that we continually reevaluate what are best practices for our congregations. Every time your council meets, it is important to revisit the conversation because the situation keeps changing. While it is tempting to make decisions based on what others are doing, I urge you to make decisions based on care and concern for the most vulnerable among you and to heed the best informed science you can. Remember that most of our congregations' worshiping members would fall into one or more "high risk" categories.

The state of Wisconsin is only second to North Dakota in its rise of Covid-19 case numbers right now, and La Crosse County has the highest per capita rate in the country. Therefore, it is NOT recommended to meet in person at all right now. If people must meet in person, it should be outside, in very small groups, for under 30 minutes, with masks on and staying at least 6 feet apart. Being inside dramatically increases the risk of spreading the virus.

This updated document contains links and recommendations to the best information we have right now about if, when, and how to gather.

La Crosse Area Synod Recommendations

"Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all." Romans 12:16-18

Thank you for the ways you continue to follow Jesus and the compassion and kindness you show to one another.

Bishop Arends


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

 
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