Current COVID-19 Updates

FELC Updates in Reference to the
COVID-19 Situation (last updated 10-19-2020)

The FELC Staff, Council, and many volunteers are working hard to keep First English a place of Christ's love and community, even if we can't physically come together. Please check this page often; we will do our best to post new information as it becomes available.

New Updates 10-19-2020

As cases continue to surge in the Fox Cities area, it is important to pay attention to what public health agencies, government leaders, and church bodies are advising.  Serving as an excellent curator of all the information has been The Wisconsin Council of Churches (WICC). The Rev. Kerri Parker, Executive Director of WICC said earlier in October, “Our obligation as faithful people is not to the minimum standard, but to behavior that demonstrates care for the most vulnerable and the well-being of the entire community. In view of the high level of COVID-19 in Wisconsin, it is neither prudent nor pastoral to gather groups of people together at this time. We urge you to put a hold on any plans for worshiping or having fellowship together in physical place for the time being.”

The Wisconsin Council of Churches is a network of Christian churches and faith-based organizations committed to working together across differences. Exercising holy imagination, the organization helps its members and friends make courageous choices that lead toward peace with justice, the vitality of the church, and the well-being of neighbors. The ecumenical organization counts twenty Christian traditions representing over 2,000 congregations in its membership, and has been providing information and advice to churches during the COVID-19 public health crisis. Its resources have been shared nationwide.

 

New Updates 08-25-2020: Plans for Phase Two

Of the churches participating in a July survey by the  Wisconsin Council of Churches, 75% are offering online worship or other physically-distanced alternatives, and 18% of churches are offering indoor worship. Many congregations have suggested they will resume indoor worship later in the fall, while some even have said they will wait until 2021.

First English Lutheran Church continues to offer two worship options - online and drive-in - as part of its Phase One protocol. How long Phase One will stay in effect is contingent upon the increase or decrease of the coronavirus. A task force is currently working on a Phase Two document which would allow for gatherings of up to 50 persons when it is safe to do so.

At the August Congregation Council meeting on Aug. 25, 2020, the Council affirmed that the buildings remain closed to all groups. Building use will be reviewed in 30 days at the next meeting of the Council.

Of course, we yearn for a return to our Sanctuaries and what we know. Yet we follow the urging of the Wisconsin Council of Churches and our church leaders “to consider that God is inviting us to a Holy Pause, informed by love for self and neighbor.” FELC’s response to COVID-19 is grounded in our sense of responsibility for our neighbor and our confidence in the love and grace of God.

New Updates 6-17-2020

First English Lutheran Church is currently in Phase One. Its most notable feature is limiting gatherings to 10 or less people.  In order to plan for Phase Two, a task force is being formed, and there are many factors to consider.  Church gatherings, for instance, rank 8 out of 10 on risk of exposure, while plane travel ranks lower at 5 out of 10.  Most mainline Protestant churches in the Fox Cities, like First English, continue to refrain from in-person worship.  Singing is said to produce floating aerosols that last longer than air droplets; think about how faraway you can smell aerosols from perfumed air fresheners.  Herd immunity happens at 60-70% of the population, but only 5-7% of the nation’s population has been exposed.  Managing risks when we are in-person will be of utmost importance.
 
Be assured the church is not closed even though we remain in Phase One.  The church has always been open for business, because the church is you and not the walls.  What we do is out of love for one another . . . protecting one another from exposure and serving one another in the various locations God has placed each of us.


New Updates 5-28-2020

The Congregation Council has affirmed a Phase One document for First English Lutheran Church’s worship and activities.  Phase One is based on guidelines from public health agencies and recommendations of ELCA leadership.  Its purpose is both to love and protect our neighbors and to care for the safety of church staff, volunteers, and members.  Here you will find a link to the Phase One document plus some of the resources supporting it.

Dear People of God,

The church is open for business . . . not because doors have been unlocked, but because the Holy Spirit is leading you in the way of Christ - to care for the least of these, to love our neighbor, and to save lives.

The church has always been open for business, because the church is you and not the walls. Although we yearn deeply to worship again in our Sanctuaries, First English will continue a cautious phased-in approach in keeping with the recommendations of public health agencies, scientists, and faith leaders.

Be well. Stay safe.  Love Jesus. Live your call.
Pastors Jeff and Mary

New Updates 5-22-2020

The bishop of East Central Synod of Wisconsin and four other ecumenical leaders have released an important letter on staying Safer at Home.  It thanks all of us for loving and caring for our neighbors, and it encourages us to continue practices that are life-giving. Click here to read the letter.


New Updates 5-21-2020

First English continues to follow a cautious phased-in approach to worship as recommended by the WI Council of Churches, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Appleton Health Department, and other agencies. This week there will be a new Phase One Plan for review by the Congregation Council and available to the congregation later in the week. Please hold the  congregation and its leaders in prayer, as we continue to be God’s servants in and for the world, knowing that love guides our actions. 



New Updates 5-14-2020:


FELC Update in Reference to COVID-19: First English Lutheran Church has canceled all in-person activities within both of our Church buildings until further notice. In the aftermath of the Supreme Court ruling to strike down “Safer at Home” restrictions, First English continues to follow a cautious phased-in approach to worship as recommended by the WI Council of Churches and health agencies. Please check out this weekly letter from Bishop Jerry Mansholt of East Central Synod of Wisconsin here.

We are doing our very best to keep you abreast of all current situations at FELC. Please click the buttons below for the most current information on the following ministries.

New Updates 5-7-2020:

Read the most recent letter from Bishop Mansholt regarding the current situation.


New Updates 4-30-2020:

With the plethora of emails, posts, misinformation, and advice coming our way, it’s helpful to have the leadership of the WI Council of Churches to vet and curate all of it, based on trusted resources.
 
To know what the immediate future of church life looks like, please check out these two resources from the WI Council of Churches: We are in this for the long haul. Your church leadership is carefully making plans, following recommendations, and anticipating best practices almost one day at a time.

What can you do in this time?  1) People of the Christian faith have spiritual resilience to support themselves and others.  Lean on scripture, worship, devotion, and our virtual community.  2) Cooperate with the recommendations of our medical and government leaders. 3) Live out of our gospel values . . . caring for each other.


New Updates 4-22-2020:

Consider this: Right now, we are able to reach more people with the good news of Jesus Christ than ever before.  Invite someone to watch our 9 a.m. worship service this Sunday. Share a Daily Devotion. 

You are welcome to tune into FELC’s livestream at 8:45 a.m.  Relax, bring your coffee cup, and exchange greetings with others prior to the start of worship.

New Updates 4-17-2020:
Conversation with synod staff and pastors suggests that a return to in-person worship will be very gradual.  In other words, it won’t be like flipping on a light switch.  At First English, there will be consideration given to ongoing social distancing, masks, sanitization between worship services, Holy Communion, care for those who remain cautious, and more. 

In the last month, there was energy to push through to Easter Sunday. Now that the day has passed, people may start feeling a slump.  If such is the case for you, please use the resources that are available to you on our homepage and reach out to people that are part of your support system.

FELC is advertising our online worship in the May edition of the Fox Cities Magazine. It is just one more way to spread the good news of our risen Lord.  You too are invited to share a link to an online worship service or invite others to attend.


New Updates 4-7-2020: 
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Safety (CDC) has updated its guidance and is now recommending you wear cloth face coverings in public settings where social distancing measures are hard to maintain, like grocery stores and pharmacies. This protection does not eliminate the need to maintain the six-foot social distancing restrictions that is so important to slow the spread of this virus.
  • FELC’s April newsletter provides a wide variety of information related to the congregation’s ministries and mission.  Please check it out here.
  • A huge shout-out goes to our tech-savvy folks – Rodney McComb, Mark Van Beek, Jeff Picken, Dave Owens – for consistently maintaining and improving FELC’s live-stream capabilities for worship and Sunday School.
  • There are more than 35 members of First English who are calling each household. If you do not receive a call, please let us know your correct phone number. They are simply calling to ask how you are doing and if you have any prayer requests.
  • Remember to catch our Daily Devotions . . . there are two different options: a video devotion offered by a member or staff of First English, and a written Engage Page devotion offered by Pastor Mary.

 




The Lord's Supper is certainly part of our life together, but like so many other things, it has been impacted by COVID-19. While some churches have found creative ways to celebrate the sacrament, most are refraining from doing so. In fact, Bishop Jerry Mansholt is encouraging “a fasting from Holy Communion” for congregations of the East Central Synod of Wisconsin (ELCA). His recommendation is something with which Pastor Jeff and Pastor Mary agree. You can find his letter here.

Sharing in the Lord’s Supper on a weekly basis is a fairly modern thing. Only a generation ago, many Lutheran congregations celebrated the sacrament monthly, and for most of our ancestors, monthly was too often. One thing most of us who celebrate it weekly will miss is the mindfulness that the bread and wine offer. It’s a mindfulness of Jesus’ presence and love. There are things, however, in this time of fasting that, though they are not sacraments, can help us remember Jesus’ presence and love. Hand washing can be a remembrance of baptism. Daily prayer proffers communion with God. Table prayers extend gratitude to the Creator. Scripture is the Word of God for you. An act of service to someone else is an act of service to Jesus.

Until we can gather again in fellowship and sharing of the Lord’s Supper, be assured of Jesus’ presence and love for you.

Online worship is scheduled every Sunday at 9 a.m. and Wednesday at 6:15 p.m. (summer intern-led.)

Christ in Our Home (April, May, June) devotional booklets are available in the “Little Library” stationed outside of the North and Downtown Sites.

Worship Alternatives: Join us for a 9 a.m. Facebook Live worship service followed by a Facebook Live Sunday School class at 9:45 a.m.  Go to the FELC Facebook page, or if you do not have a Facebook account, go to our homepage and you can click in to worship there. 

FELC Neighbor Network.  There are members who need help and those who can help.  If you can help, or are in need of supplies, a meal, or an errand to be run, please contact our new Neighbor Network Coordinator, Deni Kuchler,  at (920)733-2303, dkuchler@felc.com, or here.

Your ongoing offerings are appreciated.  Thank you! Offerings can be submitted to the church via mail, dropping off at the Church Office or through our automated giving program which can be found on the home page at www.felc.com or here.  Your continued support is especially needed at this time to enable FELC to continue the important ministries and outreach we have all committed to.

We will continue to post updates as they become available.  During these uncertain times it is most important keep our trust in God and nothing can separate us from His love!

Click here for Appleton's Community Response Resources and Information.