As President Trump is asking governors to open houses of worship for services this weekend, some church leaders are continuing a cautious approach when it comes to resuming in-person services.
ELCA Greater Milwaukee Synod Bishop Paul Erickson tells WTMJ he is proud of the work pastors, deacons, and church council leaders who have adapted to the challenges the pandemic brought to continue providing services.
“So our buildings may not be able to house in-person worship,” says Bishop Erickson, “the essential ministry of the church has continued and will continue regardless of any directions from the government.”
The guidelines the ELCA is providing its over 120 churches in southeast Wisconsin continues to follow the Badger Bounce Back plan and the former Safer at Home order. “The wisdom and the guidance and the medical science behind that guidance and those orders still holds,” says Bishop Erickson.
However, Bishop Erickson says they are allowing churches to make their own decision when it comes to resuming some form of in-person worship. “I am aware of one or two congregations that have begun some form of in-person worship with small numbers, adhering to social distancing.”
As more churches prepare to offer in-person worship, Bishop Erickson says social distancing needs to be observed. “Wearing masks, making sure there’s good cleaning in your buildings, good ventilation so that the air is also clean.”
As for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, Archbishop Jerome Listecki’s Chief of Staff Jerry Topczewski provided this comment to WTMJ:
“The Archdiocese of Milwaukee appreciates the President’s enthusiasm and his concern and respect for people’s religious freedom and right to worship. The Archdiocese of Milwaukee’s Catholic Comeback, released May 14, calls for the gradual return to Catholic Mass in a reasonable and responsible way, beginning the weekend of May 30-31. We’ve always considered religious worship, attending Mass and receiving the Sacraments as essential in our society. Our parish communities keep people connected, provide people comfort and give them hope, especially during this time of pandemic.”
They also posted on their Facebook page a video featuring Archbishop Listecki and the main points their Catholic Comeback plan has.