February 14, 2021
Wisconsin Council of Churches: Returning to Church 2.0
"Holding Our Plans Loosely"
Eau Claire County COVID-19 Information Hub
From the Church Council
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Executive Committee, in coordination with Trinity pastors and staff, has worked to ensure our congregation continues to realize its mission - serving in Christ's love and sharing the Good News. We have looked at various ways we might be able to engage and come together again to share this Good News that still respects the orders put in place by theEau Claire City-County Public Health Department. We know that Trinity is really not just the church building with the ski-slope roof—it is the people. It is has been so difficult these past months for Trinity's people to not be able to physically come together as a community to worship. We have heard your yearnings fortogetherness as well as your concerns about safety. We know we need to continue to identify creative new ways to connect as we move through this time of pandemic and begin to heal in its aftermath.
To this end, we have some good news to share with you today! On September 13, Rally Sunday, we will hold drive-in worship services in Trinity's west parking area. Think "Gemini Drive-in" meets the Sacred Service. Three services will be offered, as well as an opportunity to share the Lord's Supper together. More information about this worship experience will be shared in the coming days. We are planning a meaningful (and even fun!) form of worship that we hope to offer regularly until the time we can meet inside the Trinity building again (or, at least, until itstarts snowing). We hope that you will make plans to attend one of Trinity's drive-in services on September 13. No one will need to hide in the trunk to get in and popcorn is welcome!
Letter from Trinity's Executive Committee to the Congregational Council
TLC Council Members,
Grace and peace to you all. The purpose of this communication is to provide an update on the Executive Committee’s discussions regarding a return to activities, primarily to worship, in our building.
At our June 9, 2020 Council meeting, the Executive Committee was charged with developing a recommendation for a safe return to our building. The Executive Committee has been meeting weekly since mid-March; three meetings have occurred in the time since the last Council meeting. The Executive Committee has approved the following proposal regarding our return to regular activity:
Using the Respond Together Eau Claire Plan released by the Eau Claire County Health Department on June 10, 2020, we will consider returning to worship in the building no sooner than two weeks following an order that moves the county into Phase E of the plan steps. In this phase, many of the public health restrictions move from being “Required” to being “Recommended.”
When we return, we will follow all requirements denoted for Phase E of the county’s plan. As currently published, requirements for our return will include: physical distancing, screening/exclusion of ill or high-risk employees & [members], full cooperation with public health investigations, a limit of 250 attendees excluding paid employees, procurement of a record of attendees with contact information. Other recommended restrictions (e.g., the wearing of protective face masks) may also be treated as a requirement for member participation in our indoor activities.
The Executive Committee has delegated the task of developing specific protocols for return to the staff team that has already brought forward Phase I and Phase II recommendations. That staff team is actively developing the new return protocols, and they will be shared with council when approved by the Executive Committee.
Beginning the week of July 6, the Executive Committee would like to begin communications to the congregation regarding a potential future return to church. The communications will be phased in order to split up the significant volumes of information into more digestible portions. An outline of the communications will be discussed at the next Executive Committee Meeting on June 30. (These communications were delayed following changes to the Eau Claire County health order.)
An option for outdoor worship is currently being explored, given the lower risk of transmission for appropriately distanced outdoor assemblies and the higher limits for the number of attendees that correspond to this reduced risk. The current proposal would be to host one outdoor worship opportunity in July (end of month, possibly in coordination with Pastor Tom’s arrival) and one in August. (A possible outdoor worship option was delayed due to increased restrictions recommended by the Eau Claire County Health Department.)
It should be emphasized that any plan to return at this point must be considered tentative. As everyone is aware, the situation is fluid. We must be prepared to delay/postpone a return to in-person activity if emerging data does not support such a return.
We recognize that more answers are likely desired at this point, pertaining to all of the requirements and protocols that will be implemented upon return. We don’t have those answers yet, and we support taking the time to put as much intentionality, care, concern, and love into them as is possible. More will be brought forward on these items in the coming weeks.
If you have concerns about any of this direction, we’d encourage you to send an email to the Executive Committee detailing your concern. Email addresses of the committee are included below for easy reference.
Thanks for your time, and thanks for your leadership.
Pastor Patrick Patterson - firstname.lastname@example.org
Council President Lanette Hesse - email@example.com
May 28, 2020
Statement by ELCA Congregations about Not Reopening Buildings Yet
Dear Members of the Eau Claire Community,
Almost three months ago we closed our church buildings to be Safer At Home, in accordance with Governor Evers' directive. The novel Coronavirus COVID-19 had arrived, and while there was a lot we did not know about it, staying home was recommended as the safest option to keep ourselves, our congregations, and the wider community healthy and reduce, or at least slow down, the spread of this virus. These many weeks later... We miss YOU. But we hold to some commitments, and the best practices for safety compel us not to open our buildings yet.
Read the entire statement here.
The Peace of God be with you!
The Rev. Jim Ahlquist, Spirit Lutheran
The Rev. Mary Kaye Ashley, Trinity Lutheran
The Rev. Julie Brenden, St. John's Lutheran
The Rev. Jamie Brieske, Immanuel Lutheran
The Rev. Christine Emerson, St. John's Lutheran
The Rev. Mary Erickson, Hope Lutheran
The Rev. Patrick Patterson, Trinity Lutheran
The Rev. Lori Ruge-Jones, University Lutheran
The Rev. Phil Ruge-Jones, Grace Lutheran
The Rev. Josh Toufar, Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd
May 23, 2020
A Letter from the Bishop of the Northwest Synod of Wisconsin
Yesterday, May 22, 2020 the President of the United States declared that churches should reopen immediately and that churches should be considered essential businesses. In response I’d like to highlight a few key thoughts that many of you already know but bear repeating:
Read the entire letter here.
Dear friends, as leaders of the church, when faced with making decisions, I encourage you to keep asking, “What would love do? How can we best love our neighbors? How can we keep our members safe?” I am praying for you all. I trust that you will do what is best to care for your congregation.
Bishop Laurie Skow-Anderson
May 15, 2020
Online Worship Continues
Dear friends in Christ:
Most of you have been following developments after it was announced Wednesday that the Wisconsin State Supreme Court struck down Executive Order 28, known as Safer at Home, which required us to shelter in place. Without a recommended stay of the order, many interpreted that we can all go back to business as usual immediately. This procedural action is causing turmoil in the midst of an already tumultuous situation caused by the pandemic. The fact is that the science and data for our state doesn't show that we can do this safely, and this action could inadvertently cause much greater harm to the most vulnerable among us.
Trinity will continue to follow the decisions that our leadership has made, and only offer online worship at this time. At our weekly Executive committee meeting on Tuesday, these developments will be considered and discussed. However, we continue to believe that our first calling is to love our neighbor as ourselves, and online worship continues to be the fullest expression of that love. The five Wisconsin bishops of the ELCA wrote a statement affirming this stance, and it can be found in our Friday Constant Contact email and on our website. We will continue to keep you informed about how our church is planning for each phase of this pandemic. Please stay safe, continue to shelter in place, and let us know how we can be of help to you. God's blessings to you all!
Statement by the ELCA bishops in Wisconsin
April 30, 2020
Trinity Safer at Home
We hope this letter finds you celebrating the joys of spring and the promise of the resurrection as we all work to establish new normal routines in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are extremely grateful for everything the congregation is doing at this time. Thank you to everyone who donates to the food pantry to keep it running, and gratitude to those who "tune-in '' faithfully to engage in worship and Trinity Tens despite missing the liminal experience of worshiping in our physical space. We appreciate everyone who has set up online giving or faithfully mails in their contribution every week to support our ministry. We recognize your sacrifice for the importance of social distancing and the safety of our congregation and community. We take seriously modeling this behavior for all. Together we are church. As we traverse together during this time, we’re reminded in the Gospel from Luke 24:13–35 of that journey of Jesus with the two. May our eyes be opened to His presence along our path.
In keeping with the Safer at Home orders currently extended in Wisconsin and the national social distancing orders in effect, we will continue to suspend all in-person events including worship services, educational programming, small group activities, and outside groups that meet on-site at Trinity until the Safer at Home has ended. The only exception is the Trinity Food Pantry which will continue its vital ministry to our community during this time.
Ministry has not diminished during this time of pandemic but rather has expanded in myriad ways through online and cellular methods of delivery. All worship services will continue to be held in an online format via Facebook and YouTube (accessible via links on the Trinity home page even if you don’t have Facebook). We will continue gathering through Facebook Live weeknights at 6:30 p.m. for Trinity Tens. Videos of our worship services remain available for viewing after the service has ended.
At this time, while the Safer at Home order is in place, Trinity staff is working remotely from their homes. If you have any pastoral care needs or have other questions, please contact Pastor Patrick directly (firstname.lastname@example.org or via cell phone at 507-779-4991). Please continue your faithful support of our ministries through online giving or regular mail. We will get through this together.
Know that the Executive leadership team continues to meet weekly via Zoom to plan for the future of Trinity’s ministries and develop strategic plans that support our mission of “Serving in Christ’s love and sharing the good news.” Based on models for this disease, plans are being developed to address summer programming and steps for safe return to operations within our facility that comply with the Safer at Home order and transition toward the Badger Bounce Back plan.
We continue to pray for all of you, our community, and our world during this challenging time. Please watch the Trinity Website for updates regarding worship services and church activities.
God’s blessings always!
Pr. Patrick Patterson Lanette Hesse
Lead Pastor Congregation Council President
Wednesday, April 1, 2020
Trinity Safer at Home Update
In keeping with the Safer at Home orders currently in effect in Wisconsin through April 24 and the national social distancing orders in effect through the end of April, we will continue to suspend all in-person events including worship services, educational programming, small group activities, and outside groups that meet on-site at Trinity until May 1. The only exception to this will be the Trinity Food Pantry which will remain open during its normal hours of operation. Read more here.
Wednesday, March 25, 2020
Trinity Safer at Home
In order to keep our members and staff safe during this COVID-19 situation, all staff of Trinity Lutheran Church are working remotely from home. You may reach out via email with any concerns, and your message will be replied to promptly.
The church building is closed indefinitely, except for the food pantry which is keeping normal hours to serve the most vulnerable in our community.
Our worship services on Sunday and Wednesday will be live streamed on Facebook Live. You can access that even if you don't have a Facebook account by clicking on the Facebook logo on our home page. Check our web site and Facebook regularly for updates.
Loving one another as Christ loves us means taking these extraordinary steps to keep our neighbors safe. We hope to be all together in-person soon.
Thursday, March 19, 2020
While our in-person ministry may be temporarily suspended, this is a time that we as church leaders must implement new and creative ways of being church together! These Facebook Live events will occur at 6:30 PM weekdays (except for Wednesday worship), and will be a short devotional and way for us to connect together. Download the Pandemic Hope devotional below to follow along.
Trinity's Facebook page
Download the Pandemic Hope devotional
Monday, March 16, 2020
A Message from Pastor Patrick and Trinity's Leadership
On Sunday, we met with members of the Trinity Executive Committee, Pastor Mary Kaye Ashley, and Parish Nurse Vicki Dueringer to discuss how to proceed with Trinity’s various ministries in the immediate future in light of the coronavirus pandemic. In keeping with current recommendations and actions taken at the state and local levels, the following ministry adjustments will be made:
All in-person events, including worship services, educational programming, small group activities, outside groups that meet on-site at Trinity will be suspended until April 6. The only exception to this will be the Trinity Food Pantry, which will remain open during its normal hours of operation.
Until April 6, worship services will be available in an online format only. The 8:15 a.m. and 9:45 a.m. Sunday morning services as well as the 6:30 p.m. Wednesday evening service will be live-streamed on Facebook and YouTube (accessible via links on the Trinity home page, www.trinity-ec.org). The 12:15 p.m. Wednesday worship service and soup luncheon are suspended for the remainder of Lent.
Trinity staff are exploring ways to utilize online technologies in support of the various ministries at Trinity. We will contact members with more information about these options if and when they become available.
At this time, Trinity staff will remain working on-site at the church. If you are in need of pastoral care or have other questions, please call the church office at 715-832-6601 or contact Pastor Patrick directly (email@example.com or via cell phone at 507-779-4991).
Even though we are not able to worship and gather together physically right now, you can continue to support Trinity’s ministries of serving in Christ’s love and sharing the Good News through:
Praying for the health and safety of those in our community and around the world;
Calling and checking in on your neighbors who may be isolated and in need;
Continuing to support Trinity’s ministries monetarily by giving online or mailing offering envelopes to the Trinity office; and
Volunteering to help with food distribution at the Trinity Food Pantry. New recommendations put in place as a result of the coronavirus pandemic will require many additional volunteers to safely supply food to those in need in the days and weeks ahead. If you are interested in offering assistance in this way, please contact the church office.
Trinity's leadership will continue to meet regularly during the coming weeks. Please look for an update regarding worship services and ministries on April 1.
God’s blessings always!
Pr. Patrick Patterson
Congregation Council President
Friday, March 13, 2020
A Message from Pastor Patrick
In respect for safety, and in keeping with health official recommendations, all worship services and Christian education will be cancelled for Sunday, March 15. Our 8:15 a.m. and 9:45 a.m. worship services will be live streamed on our website and Facebook, so please join us from the safety of your home.
God has called us to love our neighbor and care for the least of these, and it is with this in mind that we practice caution due to the fluid nature of the COVID19 situation. While many of us feel healthy and wonder if all of the hype is justified, we must keep the welfare of others in mind as we act. Read more from the Eau Claire City-County Health Department on their website.
There will be many other considerations in the hours and days ahead. A team of elected leaders and our Health Ministries staff will discuss future steps that may need to be taken. Please watch for regular updates on our website, Facebook, or please call the church office.
We will continue to provide spiritual and pastoral care for all members as we are able, although those activities may look a little different in the short term. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on my cell phone at 507.779.4991 for any of those needs.
God's blessings on your day!
Patrick A. Patterson
A Message from Preschool Director Marlee Knickerbocker
Noah's Ark Preschool and all Early Childhood Programming (including Open Gym) at Trinity will be closed effective immediately. In the interest of health safety, Noah's Ark is cancelling our field trip to Menards on Monday, March 16 and Tuesday, March 17. In addition, Gov. Evers directed the Department of Health Services to mandate the closure of all K-12 schools beginning Wednesday, March 18. Therefore, Noah's Ark will close as well.
The anticipated reopening date is Monday, April 6, however this is subject to change pending further information. We will continue to provide updates via email, the Trinity website, and Facebook posts.
Stay home. Stay well. Wash your hands! God's peace be with you!
Noah's Ark Preschool Director and Early Childhood Enrichment Coordinator