Nain's Response to COVID-19
August 1, 2020
From the press release issued on July 30 by the Office of the Governor:
"Gov. Tony Evers today declared a Public Health Emergency and issued an Emergency Order requiring individuals to wear face coverings when indoors and not in a private residence, with some exceptions as clarified and defined in the order. The order is effective at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, August 1, 2020, and will expire on September 28, 2020 or by a subsequent superseding order. Executive Order #82 declaring a public health emergency is available here and Emergency Order #1 requiring face coverings statewide is available here ... Under this order, Wisconsin residents ages five and older are required to wear a face covering when they are indoors or in an enclosed space with anyone outside their household or living unit ... A frequently asked questions (FAQ) document is available here."
To comply with the governor's order, I ask that all worshipers over the age of five wear a mask while in Nain's church building and throughout the duration of the service, except for when they are receiving Holy Communion. Disposable face masks are available at the church at no cost to you. If you are exempt from wearing a face covering because of a health condition or a disability, please notify me of that ahead of time.
I ask that you do this in obedience to the Fourth Commandment ("Honor your father and mother that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth") in which God commands us to obey the authority figures placed over us, including his representatives in government. I personally have no reason to doubt at this time that with this order Governor Evers is making a good-faith effort to keep the citizens of our state safe. Nor do I think that this is an example of "government overreach" in which our religious freedoms are being oppressed.
I also ask that you wear a mask out of love for your neighbor. In the Fifth Commandment ("You shall not murder") God teaches us not to "hurt or harm our neighbor in his body, but help and befriend him in every bodily need" (Martin Luther, Small Catechism). As Christians who are redeemed by the blood of Jesus and promised eternal life in heaven, we do not fear sickness, disease, or death. Still, we take sensible precautions when it comes to these things out of love for God and to honor and protect his gift of the body (both ours and our neighbors') during this earthly life. Considering the rise in Coronavirus-related cases and deaths, I hope you see this as a reasonable and loving request.
We have blessed throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic to be able to continue to gather around the means of God's grace - his Gospel in Word and Sacraments - in obedience to God's Third Commandment ("Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy"). I hope you join me in praising the Lord Jesus for this privilege, and praying that he continues to give the Gospel free course in this world. There is nothing we value more than being with fellow children of God and receiving our one, true treasure: forgiveness of sins and righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ. Among the many changes of this world, that will remain the same.
If you have any questions or concerns about what I am asking you to do, please contact me. I would be happy to share more of my thoughts on this issue.
July 10, 2020
While we are now permitted to allow as many people to gather for worship at once, the Elders and I think it would be best not to do that at this time. We feel that the most prudent course of action is to gradually work towards resuming our pre-COVID-19 schedule of worship and other activities. It is important that we continue to take precautions for the health, safety, and peace of mind of our members. We also want to be mindful of our witness to the community, and considerate of the governing officials placed over us, so as not to do anything to dishonor God's holy Name. Furthermore, since things can change again quickly, we believe it's wise to play it safe and take things slow. I pray God blesses you with patience as we work through these things.
As of the beginning of July, we have increased the limit of people able to attend each service to 25 people. We think this is a reasonable number, since it will allow for us to continue to social distance, but also give us the opportunity to serve more people each Sunday.
Divine Services are held on Sundays at 8:30 and 10:00 am. Each service will last about 45-50 minutes. Members are asked to indicate their intention to worship by using Nain's "Sign Up Genius" page. Visitors who want to worship with us are asked to contact Pastor Berg ahead of time.
Unless a state or city-wide order supersedes our plan, we intend to follow this routine through the month of July. At that time, the church leadership and I will revisit our plan and adjust it as necessary. In the meantime, we will continue to monitor the orders and recommendations of the state and local governments. Since this is a fluid situation, it's possible that we might have to alter our plans sooner than expected. I'll let you know if that is the case.