Dear Members and Friends of First Congregational Church,
Grace and peace to you in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ during these days of Epiphany! May Christ continue to be revealed to the world through the wisdom and courage of all of us as we travel the Way of Jesus.
It will not surprise you to know that our Church Council, at the recommendation of our Public Health Advisory Group, has decided that our building will be closed to in-person worship beginning this Sunday, January 9 through the rest of the month of January. You have been following the news, so you know how the Omicron variant of Covid-19 has been raging through our state and our community. Very concerning are facts like the one this graph reveals: – the sharp upward surge of positive test results in the state of Wisconsin over the last week and the continued spike projected through the end of the month. We believe that our church’s first obligation is to the health and safety of our members and community. The decision to resume online only worship and virtual programming honors that obligation.
Specifically, our policy is this:
- The only event we will be holding in the building is our weekly on-line worship service and will keep the number of worship leaders to 15 or fewer.
- We will offer other services such as prayer chapels, baptisms, weddings, funerals, children, youth, and adult programming as on-line offerings through Zoom or other platforms.
- The church office will be open, but church staff will be masked and those dropping by will be asked to be masked as well.
These policies will continue to be monitored by Church Council in consultation with our Public Health Advisory Group.
I know there are plenty of churches who have not closed their doors during the Pandemic because they believe that God would confer a special blessing on them, protecting them from disease and harm. All of us have seen the sad examples of weddings, funerals, and other worship events that became super spreaders of the Covid-19 virus and caused great injury to their churches, families, and community. We have also read about unvaccinated religious leaders who preached and believed that God would “spare” them and yet whose last words were those of repentance and urging others to act for health.
These examples remind us, as people of faith, that there is a difference between “magical” thinking and “miraculous” thinking. Magical thinking believes that God will always act in our personal best interests and asserts that belief in Christ grants us privileges of wealth and health, popularity and success. By contrast, miraculous thinking believes that with God all things are possible. That means that what blessings we have of mind and strength, compassion, reason, love and service can be used by God to change lives and change the world. Our miraculous faith doesn’t grant us privilege – it offers us hope, faith, purpose, and strength.
Right now, the gifts of reason and intelligence guide us to close our doors for the health and safety of our church family and community. Gifted by faith and hope, we do not believe that we are putting the church’s ministry aside but are staying true to our calling and purpose. Thank you for your understanding and for your faithfulness.
Yours in Christ,
The Church Council