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We continue to be a united community worshipping virtually.

Dear Church Family,

You may have read comments made this afternoon by President Trump concerning the immediate reopening of houses of worship across the USA. The President declared Churches essential services and ordered Governors to immediately open churches again for worship. I agree that the church is essential to the wellbeing of our individual and collective survival.

That the church is essential is the precise reason we will not be opening on Sunday. I think there may be a difference in the President’s understanding of “church” and our understanding of “church”. It seems that he sees “church” through the lens of Real Estate, something he is said to understand well. It is a business based on occupancy, on numbers of bodies moved through it. For someone seeing “church” through the lens of Real Estate, it only makes sense to see the buildings utilized and filled with bodies.

My understanding of church is rather different. When I hear the word, I think of the Body of Christ, comprised of individual believers who carry the word and light of Jesus Christ wherever they might be. We comprise the Church. The Church was never a building, it has always been a dynamic community of believers. Therefore , we continue to show our love of each other by staying separate.

As members of the Body of Christ it is essential that we continue to pray for each other, our community, the Nation, and the world. It is essential that we maintain our faith, it is essential that we continue in acts of love and charity, it is essential that we continue to reach out to each other through phone calls, emails, virtual worship and visits, and cards and letters. It is essential that we continue to look out for each other’s wellbeing. It is not essential that we gather in a building to do that. It is not essential to turn our sanctuaries into vectors of contagion.

The Milwaukee Suburban protocols suggest that we are now in phase 2 of re-entry and still prohibits gatherings of more than 10 people. These protocols specifically suggest that Churches follow the guidelines set by their individual governing bodies. Bishop Jung and the Cabinet have suggested that the earliest date a UMC church can gather for worship inside their building is June 21. We need to understand that even June 21 is a target and is not set in stone. Opening depends on the safely of our members. Opening depends on the care of souls.

I know this is a frustrating situation. We all want to be able to gather again, but I urge you to remain patient. The infection rate continues to grow in Wisconsin, and the expectation is that with the relaxed Safety Guidelines we now have, the opportunity for the virus to spread is even greater. The Covid 19 virus does not read the newspapers or watch tv, it is neither Republican nor Democrat, and has only one purpose, self-preservation, and propagation. The virus dies when there are no opportunities for infection. It is essential that we, as the Body of Christ, do not present opportunities by opening too soon.

Thus far our two congregations have been blessed. We have had few cases, and no deaths. Sadly, other UMC churches in Milwaukee have not been so blessed. Some local congregations have lost 3 and 4 members. I want to see us come out of this alive, so that when the day finally comes that we can gather again, it will be a time of celebration and not one of mourning for those whom we have lost.

One final note on entering our churches. I strongly encourage you all to not enter our church buildings unless there is urgent business of the church to be conducted. Yes, finance officers may enter to do their work that guarantee the ministry continues, trustee members may enter for matters issues related to the safety and wellbeing of the buildings we are entrusted with. If there is a way to conduct your transaction or business otherwise, please try to do so.

May God’s Grace continue to give you peace, may God’s light continue to illuminate your darkest hours, and May God’s Love be your constant motivation.

Pastor Rob

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