Dear Pastors, Deacons and Lay Leaders of Congregations,
 
Grace, mercy and peace to you in the name of the Risen Christ.
 
Late yesterday we learned the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued its ruling in WI Legislature v. Palm.  The Justices ruled for the Legislature, against DHS Secretary Palm.
 
Sadly this decision will lead to confusion and chaos across the state as we continue to deal with this highly infectious novel coronavirus.
 
This morning I write to urge congregations to continue on the path of planning for a cautious phased in approach to returning to worship. 
 
I strongly urge congregations to follow the counsel and recommendations as stated in the ELCA document sent out yesterday, “Returning to In-person Worship”, as well as an earlier document from the Wisconsin Council of Churches, “Returning to Church”.
 
While the Court has ruled there is no authority to enforce the provisions of “Safer at Home” at a state-wide level, the recommendations of “Safer at Home” remain.
 
Also there may be orders or regulations at the city or county level in effect.  For example the City of Appleton will continue all parts of the Safer At Home order despite the Court ruling.
 
I urge us to continue to listen to public health officials as we care for the people of our congregations and communities.
 
I close with this prayer that speaks profoundly to the trials and challenges of these days:
 
O God, you call your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown.  Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.
 
In Christ’s love and peace,
 
Bishop Jerry Mansholt