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 update as of September 8, 2022
At a meeting earlier this week the Session accepted the recommendation of its Covid-19 Advisory Team to move forward on a mask-optional basis, beginning this Sunday, September 11. The city and community health metrics that have guided our mitigations are now at levels of diminished risk (less than 200 cases per 100,000) and vaccines are available for all ages. Masking preferences will vary and we will apply the “love your neighbor” ethic to those who make choices different from our own. Masks are optional and continued masking is welcome.
The Covid Advisory Team will continue to monitor and advise. We continue to encourage vaccinations and the latest boosters; if you are experiencing symptoms, please test and isolate as necessary. All members of the Immanuel staff, church school teachers, choir members and other Sunday morning volunteers who interact with you are fully vaccinated. If you have comments, concerns, or questions about any of this, please contact one of the ministers or a member of the advisory team.
To read a copy of the letter that went out to the congregation please click HERE.
The Session’s Covid Advisory Team (CAT) continues to monitor health data weekly from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). After over a month in the “High” level of COVID-19 community spread, Milwaukee moved into the medium level this week.
These levels are based on three indicators: new cases per 100,000 people in the last seven days, new hospital admissions with COVID-19 per 100,000 people in the last seven days, and percent of inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients.
In accordance with CDC recommendations, as the case numbers begin to drop again, the CAT is watching the data point (200 or lower cases per 100,000) for a consistent trajectory over the coming weeks in hopes of implementing a mask-optional protocol for worship and onsite gatherings in September.
Mitigations regarding air circulation in the Sanctuary like leaving the doors open and using air purifiers will continue. Please be patient, stay healthy, stay home if you have symptoms, and convey questions and concerns to members of the advisory team, the Session, or the ministers.
CAT and Session update as of August 31, 2022
CAT and Session adopted new metric Guidelines
(as of March 15, 2022)
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/
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.
Pastoral Letter - Resuming in-person worship
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 (as of February 20, 2022)
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.
Covid-19 Update - January 21, 2022
VIRTUAL-ONLY WORSHIP EXTENDED THROUGH FEBRUARY 13
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.
Pastoral Letter - Pausing in-person worship
(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.
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
Wisconsin Department of Health Services
Georgia Tech Event Risk Assessment Tool
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