Mt Zion is again TEMPORARILY CLOSING for indoor activities, effective immediately on October 20, 2020. We are following the Milwaukee County key indicators on the Covid 19 dashboard. On October 19, for the first time since May, the “testing” marker and the “tracing” marker turned red.
As a result, Mt Zion will close to indoor activities for as long as any of these markers remain red plus two weeks after that (outdoor activities and essential workers will still be permitted, just like things were in June when we were last closed).
Back in June, we setup guidelines to help us determine how we would move forward. The primary basis of those guidelines relied on the measures of the state, county, city of Milwaukee, and city of Wauwatosa. We would follow (as best as possible) the most strict measures in place from any of those levels of government. We expected our government to lead, and we have found this expectation has not been met. It has become apparent that the government at all levels is having difficulty providing our communities measures that are truly responsive to the ever-evolving nature of this pandemic.
As a result, on October 19th, the Leadership Board decided to amend this policy to include one additional marker to help us determine when we need to close the building and when we can reopen. The motion we passed reads as follows: “The leadership board recommends the church close when any of the indicators Testing, Tracing, and Care as found on the Milwaukee County Covid Dashboard turn red. The church will remain closed for two weeks after the indicators are no longer red.”
Milwaukee County COVID-19 Dashboard
What this means is that if any of these three markers, testing, care, and tracing, go red on the Milwaukee County COVID-19 Dashboard (at the bottom of the dashboard click “key indicators”), then we will close for the whole time they are red plus two weeks after they are no longer red. On October 19, for the first time since May, the “testing” marker turned red (this means a large percent of tests are coming back positive). Also, for the first time since they included the “tracing” marker, it also turned red on October 19 (this means there is not sufficient capacity in the county to contact trace tests in a timely manner). As a result, Mt Zion will close to indoor activities for as long as any of these markers remain red plus two weeks after that (outdoor activities and essential workers will still be permitted, just like things were in June when we were last closed).
But what about community?
I know how hard it is to close the building, particularly for indoor worship (trust me, particularly as a person who lives alone, I know). Community is a vital aspect of our ministry, and that best happens in person. Yet we always knew from the start of this pandemic that we would need to be prepared to oscillate between times of open and closed until the pandemic is over.
Worship, groups, Bible studies and ministries will still be functioning virtually. The only change is that in-person meetings in our building will be closed for now. Tosa Cares still will operate under the same social distancing measures that were in place since May. It is still a good time to get involved with an on-line group or worship with us on-line. Click here for zoom schedule, and virtual how-to’s.
We will continue worship services using You-Tube with a minimum of necessary participants in the building to lead services and supplemented by videos from parishioners who take part in the service. Choir and Bell Choir are still busy recording music to insert into the service, so that their actual presence at church is not needed. Choir has been recording outside, social-distanced, wearing masks, to minimize any contact with the virus.
We have taken extraordinary measures to make worship safe, and we are one of the few ELCA congregations that opened to any indoor activities – most have stayed closed. We did this because of the size of our space and our safety measures made it possible.
But no matter how safe we were being, we always knew that we needed markers to guide us on when to close again. With this new marker, we hope it will allow us to make responsive decisions going forward that help us uphold the wellbeing of our community, balancing the need for safety and the need for human contact as best as we can.
We’ll keep you updated!
We will let you know when we will reopen as soon as the date is known. Thank you for understanding and respecting the decision of the Leadership Board.
~Pastor Tyler Rasmussen