Dear Pastors, Deacons and Lay Leaders,
Grace and peace to you in the name of Jesus,
First of all I write to say Thank You. Thank you for the many ways all of you have been navigating the rapidly evolving events of recent days. You have been struggling with difficult decisions while seeking to be the Church we are called to be. I am grateful and admire your leadership in your congregations and communities.
We are living in a time of national and global emergency when we are called upon to do our part to flatten the curve of the spread of COVID-19. The Center for Disease Control yesterday issued guidelines and asked that all gatherings of 50 or more people be canceled or postponed for the next 8 weeks. If gatherings do take place, the organizers must insure that safeguards are in place to protect the vulnerable among us. The most important practices are hand hygiene and social distancing.
To that end I am strongly encouraging all congregations to cease corporate worship for this extended period of time.  I do not have the authority to cancel worship services. The decision must be made by the local pastor and church council. But such is my recommendation. I then invite and encourage us to find ways to pray, worship, encourage and care for one another with more social distance.
As of today Wisconsin has 33 identified cases of COVID-19, 12 of which are within the territory of this synod. From all accounts this highly contagious disease is not to be taken lightly.
The situation is rapidly evolving with drastic changes daily. I intend to be in regular communication in the days to come with pastors and deacons, seeking the counsel and guidance, ideas, practices and concerns as we seek to be Christ’s Church in changed and changing circumstances.
The God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
In Christ’s peace
Bishop Gerald L Mansholt