Reopening Update from Pr. Chris Enstad | February 18, 2021

Reopening Update from Pr. Chris Enstad | February 18, 2021

Dear friends and family at Good Shepherd,

Our Lenten theme this year is Created for Community. While Lent is most often celebrated by individual acts of penitence, we forget these individual acts are to be undertaken in community with the whole church. Despite our physical separation the past year, we have found many ways to build and sustain our church community virtually, spiritually, and in smaller expressions of togetherness and fellowship.

We are fast approaching the one-year anniversary of our necessary move to virtual worship and ministry. Your pastors and staff have felt an increasing urge to find more ways to gather in person, even as we continue to plan and offer high quality online worship and program offerings. The recent relaxation of the Dane County Public Health guidelines for in-person gatherings has added to this urgency.

The Covid-19/Reopening Task Force has continued to meet monthly and is monitoring the conditions for a safe and staged reopening of our campuses for both worship and larger group ministry. The Task Force has convened the Reopening subcommittee to continue the ongoing conversations with our Worship and Music staff and volunteers as well as the Children, Youth and Family Committees. The need to balance risk tolerance, safety of our staff and members, time commitments and the health benefits of both staying apart AND being together means that each of these conversations and meetings are neither short nor insignificant, as we bring a wealth of experiences, emotions, and expectations to the table.

In the next weeks we will produce protocols that align the public health guidelines with the abilities of our physical spaces and staff.  I hesitate to put a specific date on when these efforts will appear, but it will be sooner rather than later.

In the meantime, we have several initiatives that will get us part of the way there:

  1. Small groups can reserve space in our buildings in accordance with specific protocols that are available upon approval from Rick Thomas. (Click here to watch a video about the instructions we had in place for small groups last fall).
  2. Wedding and Funeral services of up to 50 people are approved with safety protocols in place.
  3. We will begin a return to outdoor worship services as soon as weather allows.
  4. Online streaming worship will continue, just like we did before the pandemic, regardless of what our in-person options are at any given time.
  5. Our Madison sanctuary and our Verona chapel will be opened for individuals who would like to access those areas for individual prayer during the Lenten season.

Lutherans have historically proven resilient through all kinds of changes and gray areas because of the centrality of grace to our mission and purpose. I ask that you continue to pray for our staff, members and ministry and, please, continue to extend God’s grace to each other along the way.

Thank you for your partnership in the Gospel,
Pastor Chris Enstad

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