St. John’s United Church of Christ will suspend in-person services and return to Sunday worship entirely online starting Aug. 1 because of rapidly rising COVID-19 cases on Madeline Island.
The Board of Trustees voted unanimously to make the change. The action returns St. John’s to its practice of 10 a.m. Sunday worship exclusively at stjohnsmadelineisland.org. For more than a year, St. John’s held online-only services before opening for in-person services with safety precautions in June.
The board also made four other changes with church events and ministries because of confirmed rising cases of COVID-19, driven by the rapid spread of the coronavirus’ more virulent delta variant. For more information and details, please read the full news release about this decision. Also, see news coverage from WDIO/WIRT-TV and KBJR/KDLH-TV.
Rev. Rachel Bauman, pastor at St. John’s, said, “I’m grateful for the careful deliberations of the board, and we are praying for the health and well-being of our entire community.”
Join us, in-person or by Zoom, at 11 a.m. Sunday for a joyful and informative church Annual Meeting hosted by Rev. Rachel Bauman and Church Council President Debbie Knopf.
We will celebrate highlights from the past year and share exciting plans for the fall and 2022. The Annual Meeting is a time to look back as well as look ahead. We will vote on the proposed 2022 budget, a proposed change to our Constitution and our new slate of Council members. The meeting agenda and all relevant materials and information are included in the Annual Report.
For those who are not on the island and/or who prefer to participate virtually, please join us by Zoom.
St. John’s United Church of Christ on Madeline Island will resume in-person worship at 10 a.m. Sunday June 6 after more than a year of conducting services exclusively online because of COVID-19 safety concerns.
The church’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously to resume in-person services, with masks and social distancing required, as well as limited other in-person activities following updated health guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. St. John’s also has incorporated protocols and best practices from state and local health agencies and the Wisconsin Council of Churches.
“I am thrilled that we are returning to in-person worship,” said Rev. Rachel Bauman, pastor at St. John’s. “It will be such a blessing to be in spiritual community in body as well as in spirit.”
She added: “I am so grateful and moved by the many ways the St. John’s community stayed engaged and committed during the past year-plus. Our online viewership consistently averaged 30 percent more than we would traditionally have in-person during the winter months, plus participation in Zoom Bible Study and small groups was consistently vital.”
Bauman said she regularly heard from people around the country who joined St. John’s for worship online because their local places of worship were closed. Many told her they found messages that resonated with them in St. John’s virtual worship.
“I am grateful to our outstanding team of videographers, musicians and behind-the-scenes supporters who made our virtual presence possible,” Bauman said. “And while we are resuming in-person worship, our services, of course, will continue online each Sunday at stjohnsmadelineisland.org.”
St. John’s Board of Trustees Chair Debbie Knopf said the decision to resume in-person worship came at a special board meeting after the CDC issued new guidance for in-person gatherings, based on increasing rates of vaccination and declining new diagnoses of COVID-19.
“The primary value has been to follow the science,” Knopf said. “When we do this, it allows us to care for each other and our community, recognizing that we want to keep all of us safe and healthy, including those who may be more vulnerable.”
She added: “We will still exercise caution as we develop less restrictive practices and move forward in phases, pausing to evaluate every few weeks before making further changes. For Sunday’s service and those in June, we will require all those coming into the sanctuary to wear a mask. Masks will be provided for anyone who arrives without one. We will also ask that people practice social distancing, sitting with family members or in groups of close friends, with distance between themselves and the next group. There will be no congregational singing yet, but perhaps a vocalist in the front of the church.”
St. John’s will offer communion outside after worship this Sunday. Fellowship also will take place outdoors after the service. In addition, the church plans to set up speakers and a seating area outside for anyone more comfortable attending the service in the yard between the church and the parsonage. Those who prefer to attend outside should bring lawn chairs or a blanket for seating.
ABOUT OUR CHURCH: St. John’s United Church of Christ on Madeline Island is a church for the entire Madeline Island community. We’re celebrating our centennial year in 2021. Whether you are on the island year-round, visiting for a few days or anywhere in between, you are welcome to worship with us. Learn more at stjohnsmadelineisland.org.
FOR MEDIA INQUIRIES: Rob Karwath | North Coast Communications | 218-343-9418 | email@example.com