STATEWIDE – Prompted by recent guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, the Wisconsin Council of Churches released today The Needs of the Saints: Back to the Church 4.0including the most significant updates yet to its basic guidelines for church gatherings in the age of COVID.
The new guidelines express concern that the CDC’s reliance on hospitalization rates is understating the ongoing pandemic and may be too little, too late to respond to new, potentially more dangerous surges of COVID-19 infections.
Instead, the WCC encourages practices rooted in Christian values of community, hospitality, care and concern for the vulnerable. According to the text of the document, “We respect the CDC and the work of the scientists within this institution. However, the latest recommendations seem tied to values that are more aligned with commerce, industry and public sentiment than the values that have guided us since the start of the pandemic.
In contrast, Returning to Church 4.0 advises the use of a sliding scale of conditions to make nuanced decisions that center the concerns of people with disabilities, immunocompromised people and other vulnerable people, while respecting the different levels of comfort of community members.
Returning to Church 4.0 offers best practices for masking and distancing, vaccination requirements, communicating, and adapting mitigation measures in an adaptive and responsive way. It also offers advice for churches as their communities relax COVID-safe protocols, and suggests ways to prepare for the future and long-term impacts of the pandemic.
An executive summary and the full text of Returning to Church 4.0 are available for download at: https://www.wichurches.org/
The Wisconsin Council of Churches is a network of Christian churches and faith-based organizations committed to working together despite differences. Exercising a holy imagination, the organization helps its members and friends make courageous choices that lead to peace with justice, the vitality of the church, and the well-being of neighbors. The ecumenical organization has twenty-one Christian traditions representing more than 2,000 congregations among its members, and has provided information and guidance to churches during the COVID-19 public health crisis. Its resources have been shared nationally. For more information on the Council’s work on COVID, visit its website at www.wichurches.org.