News & Messages

Responding to an epidemic of guns, violence and COVID-19

Coronavirus case counts continue to increase in the Milwaukee and so does gun violence. More specifically, the Milwaukee homicide is double what it was last year at this time. If we see gun violence continue at this pace, homicides in Milwaukee will be at a level not experienced for decades.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barret stated, "I am very troubled by what I'm seeing in Milwaukee this year." Violence is troubling. Gun violence is troubling. The pandemic is troubling and underlying issues are troubling. Reggie Moore, Director of Milwaukee's Office of Violence Prevention, put it this way. "This (violence) underscores the level of stress and trauma that the pandemic has created, on top of the already ongoing stress and trauma from concentrated poverty and unemployment and other issues that families were struggling with."

Perhaps, at times, we struggle with knowing how to respond to violence and to underlying issues. Willie Murphy, Milwaukee Police Department District 7 Captain, recently reminded members of the District 7 Faith-Based Initiative group of one way to respond. He wrote, "I know you all and your congregations/assemblies are praying. Thank you all for continuing to do so." We can respond by continuing to pray.

We can understand there is a need for the respect and dignity of every human being. I was reminded of this a few weeks ago during a community conversation I attended. Local media was there. The headline read: Key stakeholders hold honest conversation on racism and police brutality in Milwaukee. The reporter wrote: "Together, retired law enforcement, community leaders and concerned residents gathered at a local church on Milwaukee's north side to talk openly and honestly about racism and police brutality. All in attendance weren't holding back. They came together to brainstorm ways they can change the culture, plaguing Milwaukee and the country, a culture where to this day police brutality happens and where people are judged by the color of their skin or background."

During that conversation, retired Milwaukee Assistant Chief of Police, Ray Banks, stood up and said: "We need people to understand that all anybody wants whether you're black, white, blue or purple is to be treated with dignity and respect. We're all in this fight together." Ray Banks is right. We are in this fight - this struggle - this work - together. So, together, we can respond by continuing to stand up, stand for, and work for the dignity and respect of all human beings.

Another human being said, ". . . the pandemic has brought financial hardship and a host of other uncertainties and stressors. Kids are out of school, parents might not be working and people may be stuck at home with abusive partners. Nationally, the pandemic has also spurred an increase in gun sales."

Bishops United Against Gun Violence is a national network of nearly one hundred Episcopal Church bishops that urges our cities, states and nation to adopt policies and pass legislation that will reduce the number of people in the United States killed and wounded by gunfire.

Milwaukee's Sojourner Family Peace Center is the largest nonprofit provider of domestic violence prevention and intervention services in Wisconsin. Sojourner provides an array of support aimed at helping families affected by domestic violence achieve safety, justice and well-being.

These are two examples of a seemingly endless list of national and local entities that provide individual participation possibilities and congregational involvement opportunities. We can participate and we can be involved.

We can also listen. As we think about where to participate or mull over how to be involved or want to know what to do, we can listen. And I invite us to listen to this proverb.

Listen to the wind, it talks.
Listen to the silence, it speaks.
Listen to your heart, it knows.

~The Rev. Kevin Stewart, Missioner for Community Engagement

Creating a Digital Space

In this new pandemic world, all of us have been struggling to find new ways for our parishioners to worship and engage in fellowship. From our conversations with you, it has become apparent that these formats will become a permanent feature of our ministry, even after the COVID contingencies are over.

 We think that this is a good time to step back and consider what the range of options are for creating a digital space for your parish. Whatever it is that you are doing now, we would like to offer you an in-depth guide from folks who are experts not only in the technical aspects, but also the areas of worship and pastoral leadership. The Rev. Don Fleischman and John Washbush, who have produced our diocesan Sunday worship services, will be your guides through this wilderness. They also have used the equipment suggested and can help with specific questions you may have.

Full Cover Letter
Our Digital Parish: Conversation Questions

You may fill out a paper application for aid, scan it, and email it to Canon Peggy Bean or you may fill out an application online.

Here's an idea for a grant request:

St. Luke’s, Milwaukee was a recent recipient of a technology grant from COMD that is helping us expand our reach into our parish and larger community! One of the most exciting upgrades the grant allowed us to make was the purchase of a Mesh WiFi system. Mesh WiFi consists of a main router that connects directly to your modem, and a series of satellite modules, or nodes, placed around your building for full WiFi coverage. They are all part of a single wireless network and share the same SSID and password, unlike traditional WiFi routers. For a little over $200, we were able to wirelessly provide a strong signal to our entire complex, which is large and has plenty of concrete walls. If you are looking for a fairly inexpensive and easy way to add WiFi to your church building, I would strongly recommend considering a Mesh WiFi system.

~Fr. Jason Lavann

If you have any questions about the mesh system that St. Luke's is using, please contact us at  and we'll put you in touch with Fr. Jason Lavann.

An Update from the Way Forward Task Force

June 18, 2020

To all the beloved in Christ in the Diocese of Milwaukee:

Dear Friends in Christ,

I am writing today to inform you of my decision to allow some of the churches in the Diocese of Milwaukee to re-gather for public worship on or after Sunday, July 12, 2020. All in-person gatherings in the diocese will comply with the current version of the Way Forward Guidelines, an updated copy is linked below in this letter. Please keep in mind that this permission is not encouragement and may be rescinded if a significant spike in cases occurs.

Due to the Wisconsin Supreme Court decision to overturn the statewide Badger Bounce Back plan and to the length of time which has already elapsed while we wait for the state to move into the first phase of that plan, the Way Forward Task Force has developed a Regathering Risk Assessment Dashboard to quantify data about the virus on a county-by-county basis. As we prepare to re-gather for public worship, this tool will provide the parishes and the diocese with a reasonably objective way to help decide collaboratively which parishes may re-gather safely, and which parishes may be best served to continue to meet virtually for the time being for the safety of all. The tool is based on active, state-reported cases to provide the best data available for evaluation of the current, fluid situation.

Any parish whose county has 50 or fewer active cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 residents is permitted to gather for in-person worship beginning July 12. These counties are indicated by the color green appearing in the active cases/100,000 field on the Dashboard tab of the spreadsheet. If your county has a color other than green, you may only begin re-gathering for worship or other gatherings once that cell has turned green and you have notified the diocese. Similarly, if your county is green now but changes to a different color, you, in collaboration with the Bishop, will most likely be required to cease in-person worship gatherings until that cell is green again.

Also, you should evaluate any meeting or event based on the probabilities in the tool based on the size of the event before conducting it. Any event with a probability of greater than 1% of a person with COVID-19 attending should be held online, restricted to a size that meets the desired probability of 1%, postponed, or canceled.

As of this writing, parishes in the following counties are currently eligible to meet for worship on or after July 12: Columbia, Crawford, Dane, Grant, Green, Iowa, Jefferson, Ozaukee, Richland, Sauk, Washington, and Waukesha. Please monitor the dashboard as case data is updated daily, and your county’s situation may change between now and July 12. The Way Forward Task Force will be monitoring this data and will attempt to provide you with updates if your county’s status changes, but please pay attention to this on your own as well.

Regardless of whether a particular county’s parishes are able to re-gather for public worship at this time, all churches of the Diocese of Milwaukee may begin offering home communion visits beginning July 12. These visits must be done in accordance with the Way Forward Guidelines. Any parish which needs to have a celebration of the Holy Eucharist to consecrate sufficient elements for these visits may do so in any county on or after July 12. Parishes in counties that are not yet “green” should only hold these celebrations if they need to do so, must limit attendance to no more than five persons, and must observe all of the Way Forward Guidelines for in-person worship.

Please be reminded that no parish may gather for public in-person worship indoors or outdoors, or hold any other in-person gatherings, before they have a plan for regathering that has been approved by the Way Forward Task Force. Online services that consecrate the Eucharist in accordance with the rubrics of the Prayer Book for home distribution may be conducted.

Please carefully familiarize yourself with the latest version of the Way Forward Guidelines.

Highlights of the changes in this version include:

  • Changed capacity limits. All inside gatherings will be limited to 10 persons for the month of July. We will make a subsequent announcement about capacities for August and going forward.

  • Specific guidelines for outdoor worship gatherings. While the first two meetings outdoors must have no more than 10 people, subsequent gatherings may have as many persons as the local public health authority and the size of the space allow (so somewhat larger gatherings may be possible depending on your context).

  • Specific guidelines for non-worship gatherings outdoors, and for 12-step groups and congregations renting Diocese of Milwaukee facilities indoors.

We have also created a Frequently Asked Questions document to assist you.

As always, if you have questions about these guidelines, please feel free to contact us. Questions specifically pertaining to the Regathering Risk Assessment Dashboard, its methodology, or its underlying data may be sent directly to the Rev. Dave Mowers ( ). All other questions and plan submittal should be sent to me ( ) with a copy to Rev. Bill Dunlop ( ) and Patty Jaffke ( ).

Yours in Christ,

The Rt. Rev. Steven Andrew Miller
Bishop of Milwaukee

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