Practices & Guidelines
Worship is central to the life of Immanuel Presbyterian Church.
The congregation is currently worshiping in-person and virtually at 10:00 on Sunday mornings.
Go to the main Immanuel webpage
for all the current links for virtual worship and other church events.
Recordings of past services can be found here.
CAT and Session adopted new metric Guidelines
(as of March 15, 2022)
Community health metrics continue to improve! The COVID Advisory Team (CAT) has lifted the mitigation of pre-registration, since contact tracing and room capacity limits are no longer necessary. Although the ribbons designating available seating have been removed, please continue to observe 3-foot spacing between persons or households. Masks continue to be required at this time. All persons interacting with worshipers on behalf of the church (staff, greeters, ushers, elders) are fully vaccinated. The livestream and Zoom call-in options remain in place.
Thank you for your patience and your support over these past months. We look forward to fuller re-openings in congregational life as the number of new cases continues to decline.
* The Covid-19 Advisory Team: Dr. Kathleen Burchby (pediatric medicine),
Trustee Randy Trumbull-Holper (Director of Facilities, UW-M Peck School of the Arts), Elder Mike Gillard (pharmacy manager, Ascension SE), Dr. Jeff Stearns (family medicine), Elder Allyson Nemec (LEED architect and urban planner), Trustee Jilaine Bauer (attorney; Chair of IPC Insurance Committee), the ministers.
Church School has returned to the Peaceable Kingdom! Church School participants (K4-12th grade) will depart to their classes following the Prayer of Thanksgiving.
The “crying room” on the second floor is now open for parents who need an alternate space with a child during the worship service. Nursery care will be reinstated pending the hiring of child care workers.
Coffee hours in the Parlor will return soon. Our “virtual coffee hours” have been an important connection during the pandemic. Thank you to those who have participated in the virtual conversations and the “Meet the Presbyterians” sessions. We can now look forward to in-person hospitality and hope to have the coffee brewing in the weeks ahead.
The Choir will return on Palm Sunday! Choir rehearsals will resume on Monday, March 21 at 6:00 and choral music will be part of the worship services on Palm Sunday, Good Friday, Easter – and forward! New voices are encouraged for this special season.
In-person Worship Guidelines (as of March 6, 2022)
The Covid Advisory Team (CAT) and Session adopted the new metric guidelines for monitoring COVID conditions from the Wisconsin Council of Church’s “The Needs of the Saints: Returning to Church 4.0.” These guidelines offer a new five level chart with suggested mitigations for responding to conditions as they change. For a link to the executive summary and full report, click here: https://www.wichurches.org/2022/03/04/returning-to-church-4/
February 16, 2022
WELCOME BACK to in-person worship and Church School THIS Sunday February 20!
We will go forward with worship in the Sanctuary and church school in the Peaceable Kingdom beginning this coming Sunday morning, February 20th at 10:00.
The Session made this decision last night, on recommendation of its COVID-19 Advisory Team. The CAT met earlier yesterday to make sure its recommendation was based on the latest metrics for community health:
At this time we will continue the mitigations of pre-registration, room capacity, mandatory masking, and socially-paced seating. N95 or KN95 masks are encouraged.
The livestream and Zoom call-in options will remain in place.
In-person worship was paused after the holiday Omicron surge. Thank you for your patience and your support over these past seven weeks. We look forward to fuller re-openings in congregational life as the number of new cases continues to decline.
Thanks be to God!
Deborah A. Block, Moderator
for the Session of Immanuel Presbyterian Church
In-person worship guidelines include registration (for capacity monitoring & contact tracing), required masking, and distanced seating in the Sanctuary. Click here for a more detailed explanation of the current guidelines!
Wisconsin Council of Churches Guideline metric as of February 8, 2022.
The Session unanimously adopted the recommendation of its Covid-19 Advisory Team (CAT) to extend the pause in in-person worship, church school, and meetings through Sunday, February 13. These decisions are made in faithfulness to our ethic of an abundance of care for the congregation and community and in response to current local health metrics.* Opportunities for connection and programming have been put in place: Sunday morning Zoom coffee hours at 11:15, Wednesday evening vesper services and online worship and study for the upcoming season of Lent. The Deacons have increased their efforts to stay in touch with senior members and all members are reminded to reach out to church friends you haven’t seen for a while. Please contact the ministers regarding illness or other personal difficulties. We’ll celebrate a happier, healthier new year as soon as possible!
* Wisconsin Council of Churches Guideline metric as of the CAT meeting on January 19, 2022.
(updated for website publication)
December 30, 2021
We are pausing in-person worship for at least the next three Sundays -- January 2, 9, and 16 -- in light of the omicron surge in our community. Worship services will continue to be live streamed from the Sanctuary at 10:00 every Sunday morning.
The Session was convened last evening to discuss a recommendation from the Covid19 Advisory Team and unanimously decided that this pause in congregational gathering is faithful to the "safer" guidelines adopted at the onset of this pandemic recommended by the Wisconsin Council of Churches. The Milwaukee County metrics that we monitor showed a 60% surge in just the last few weeks, far outside those guidelines.*
The health and well-being of our members and our neighbors is paramount as we exercise an abundance of care as well as caution in these next weeks. Omicron is highly contagious, and the cases that were reported to us from members who worshiped at the 5:00 Christmas Eve service involved persons who were vaccinated and/or boosted. The mitigation protocols put in place when we "reopened" last summer are conscientious, but at this time, we believe that pausing in-person worship will make a greater contribution to the health of our community.
The Covid19 Advisory Team continues to meet weekly to monitor community health conditions and make recommendations to the Session about the impact on church life. The Session has been on-call for special meetings all along this long way and will decide mid-month if this three-week pause needs to be extended.
This decision was made with both resolve and sadness; we all regret the setback of this latest variant. And yet we are grateful for the Christmas worship services we were able to enjoy together this year, and for having the live stream technology in place for a temporary pivot to virtual-only services.
In-person church school will also be paused; parents will receive an email with more information.
Thank you for the support you have given the leadership of Immanuel Church during these difficult months. Your good spirit sustains us. The elders and ministers welcome your questions and concerns.
We work and pray for a healthier new year!
Deborah A. Block
on behalf of the Immanuel Session: Elders Matt Carlton, Margaret Crowley, Nancy Debbink, Mike Gillard, Kristi Leswing, Kate Lewis, Laurie Michalak, Allyson Nemec, Sharon Rose, Jim Schleif, Tom Scott, Leslie Smart; Sue Rennane, Clerk; Ministers Robert Ater, Teresa Larson, Susan Stoll.
* Please see the August 22, 2021 update below for a description of the Wisconsin Council of Churches "safer" guidelines and the "guideline sources" at the bottom of this page for up-to-date links to the current data for these three guidelines.
Reopening Update - August 22, 2021
A gradual reopening of the church for worship began earlier this summer, with protocols for weekly pre-registration for in-person worship, required masking while in the church building, and spacing for pew seating. Livestreaming and recorded access continue for those who choose to worship from home.
The recent surge in the delta variant has delayed plans for fuller reopening. The Session and its Covid-19 Advisory Team are considering how to best move forward with the “safer” criteria we have adopted (as compared to “not safe” and “safest”):
Vaccination rates to reach 50-70+% of the population
New COVID-19 cases to be between 5-10/100k
COVID test reporting to be less than 10% positive
Many factors are involved, including local health metrics, the particular geographic and age demographics of this congregation, an obedience to the commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves, and a commitment to being an inclusive church.
As we move into another season shaped by the pandemic, Immanuel members and friends are invited to join those serving as elders, deacons, and trustees to hear a presentation by the executive director of the Wisconsin Council of Churches, the Rev. Kerri Parker, on ministry in the era of Covid variants. This virtual presentation will be the first part of the annual church leadership event on Tuesday, September 14 at 6:30 p.m. The meeting for church officers will follow. The WCC has provided wise and credible guidelines and resources to Wisconsin churches as well as to congregations across the Presbyterian Church (USA) https://www.wichurches.org/2021/01/14/returning-to-church/.
Returning to In-person Worship
On Thursday afternoon, May 20, Immanuel's Session (governing board) announced plans to slowly return to in-person worship beginning, Sunday, June 6, 2021.
The information below shares the guidelines that will continue to help lead this process.
Guidelines for Reopening the Church Building
The Session (church leadership board of elders and ministers) has established the COVID-19 Advisory team (CAT) to provide guidance and recommendations for reopening church facilities. Because the disease progression is imperfectly known, guidance and recommendations may need to change from time to time, and movement back and forth within the reopening plans should be accommodated for the purpose of preserving public health and safety and mitigating transmission of COVID-19 within church facilities that could be disruptive to Immanuel's mission. Criteria for resumption of activities and precautions taken will be reassessed as the COVID-19 situation evolves locally, nationally and around the world.
With these qualifications and conditions, the COVID-19 Advisory team recommended and the Session approved the following:
adoption of the Wisconsin Council of Church’s January 14, 2021 Holding Our Plans Loosely: Returning to Church 2.0 document as a guide for reopening, including the Wisconsin data for the “safest” reopening to watch for before resuming any indoor gatherings:
Vaccination rates to reach 70-85+% of the population
New COVID-19 cases to be less than 1/100k
COVID test reporting to be less than 5% positive
direct the CAT to move forward with an air quality analysis in the church building to determine if updates are needed to the HVAC system,
direct the CAT to produce occupancy diagrams incorporating best practices for socially distanced group assembly, and update the same as occupancy limits, spacing parameters, or other COVID protocols are updated by the source data (below), CDC, and the City of Milwaukee.
Wisconsin Council of Church’s With One Body and One Spirit: Returning to Church 3.0: https://www.wichurches.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Returning-to-Church-v3-FINAL.pdf
Vaccination data: https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/covid-19/vaccine-data.htm
Daily new cases: https://globalepidemics.org/key-metrics-for-covid-suppression/
Daily positive COVID tests: https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/covid-19/data.htm#result
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