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Wisconsin churches urged to return to fully remote services amid rising COVID-19 cases

Published: Jan. 6, 2022 at 5:48 PM CST
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - The Wisconsin Council of Churches is recommending churches consider temporarily returning to virtual services because of the rise in COVID-19 cases.

The pandemic has affected many aspects of our lives, including how we worship.

For a period of time, it looked like the virus was slowing down, then Omicron appeared.

“Now they’re not quite back to normal,” Wisconsin Council of Church Community Health Program Director, Reverend Daniel Schultz said. “Most churches have asked people to mask, there’s some physical distancing and they do those online services.”

Schultz says WCC serves in an advisory capacity and has no authority over churches.

The organization is strongly encouraging churches to consider a return to virtual services.

“We’re asking people to do that for the next four to six weeks until the Omicron wave has had a chance to pass by,” Shultz said.

Pastor Aaron Hamilton with Concordia Lutheran Church in Eau Claire says his congregation isn’t ready to make that move. He says he does offer online services, but a majority of prayer is done in person.

“We have a mask service where we ask people to come with a mask and that’s the earlier at 8 o’clock and at 9 o’clock, we have a service that we are offering which is mask optional,” Hamilton said. “Then we’ve added a Wednesday night service too.”

Hamilton says he doesn’t want to take away the face-to-face contact many of his flock prefer.

“We’re taking it day by day and making the best decision and the most we can for the people in our care and for our town,” Hamilton said.

Schultz says to have faith.

“Churches are not alone, they have Jesus and they’ll get through this one way or another,” Schultz said.

Because this too shall pass.

Several other churches told WEAU they will either move to fully remote services or play it by ear and make decisions as needed.

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