To the clergy and congregations of the Iowa Annual Conference:
We would like to thank you for your faithful response to the November 18th directive from Bishop Laurie Haller and the Appointive Cabinet that paused in-person worship and church activities through January 10th. You may recall this decision was made in response to worsening COVID-19 positivity rates across the state and the profound pressures being placed on our healthcare systems and frontline workers. We deeply appreciate the ways in which you partnered together through Advent, Christmas Season and Epiphany to provide virtual worship, small group opportunities, and resourcing our local faith communities with pastoral care, stewardship planning and connecting with your broader community during this hard and holy time. After consulting with local leaders and healthcare personnel — and in review of reported numbers across the state — this directive will be lifted with a return to yellow status after January 10th.
To determine your best next steps as a local congregation, you are encouraged to return to the 3-2-1 Re-Entry Guideline available on the Conference Website and would ask your local re-entry leadership teams to review your county/public health numbers, hospitalizations, ICU bed availability and deaths as you make your re-entry decisions.
Our recommendation is that for churches located in counties with positivity rates at or below 15.0 percent — and review and implementation of your protocols — you may resume in-person worship and gatherings with appropriate safety protocols of masking, physical distancing and other recommended safety procedures in place. For counties where case positivity rates are above 15.0 percent, it is requested these congregations consider remaining in the red.
Additionally, we would encourage your leadership to access the Vaccine education and availability guidelines from the Iowa Department of Public Health and share this resource with your congregations. Also, to encourage your faith community to get their flu shots if they have not yet done so.
Bishop Laurie and the Appointive Cabinet