Masks now optional and respected at Green Level

Beloved of God,

Thank you to all who filled out the survey on masking. Seventy-eight households responded. 86% of respondents indicated that they are comfortable worshiping in person with masks optional. I was so moved by your responses. In a time when masking can be so divisive, Good Shepherd worshippers offered such kind and gentle responses. Thank you for all the ways you are tending to health and overall wellbeing at this time. It is an honor to serve as your pastor. 

We have navigated so much together over the past two years. We have loved each other and God’s world so faithfully during this time. I would love to rejoice together with you this Sunday at Easter worship and brunch following worship. Please RSVP for the brunch here: If worshiping in person isn’t possible for you right now, I hope you will join the livestream of the service at 9:30 on our YouTube channel. Easter Sunday will be my last Sunday leading worship for a while as my sabbatical starts on April 24. I’d love to be with you, in person or online, before I leave!

After considering the CDC recommendations on masking and the Good Shepherd survey data, the Congregation Council has adopted updated COVID-19 protocols (see below.) We are being guided by COVID-19 Community Levels “a new tool to help communities decide what prevention steps to take based on the latest data. Levels can be low, medium, or high and are determined by looking at hospital beds being used, hospital admissions, and the total number of new COVID-19 cases in an area.”  These Community Levels for each county can be found right on the front page of the CDC website at: This data is updated every Thursday night. Now that the CDC has such easy to access guidance, we will follow these levels rather than the levels used by Luther College.

We are also being guided by the high vaccination rate in our congregation and the increased use of KN95 (or similar type) masks by those who are immunocompromised. Those masks provide strong protection for people who need to wear them even when others are not masked. We are also being guided by the reality that COVID-19 will now always be with us. We are aware that a new variant, BA.2, is on the rise in the US now. We need to find ways to live with the variants. Continual masking can make worship and community life more difficult for many. 

Currently, our county Community Level is low. At this level, per Congregation Council action on Sunday, masks during worship at Good Shepherd are now both optional and respected. You will be honored if you wear a mask and if you don’t wear a mask. Both are thoughtful choices at this time. This change will go into effect starting with Maundy Thursday evening worship this Thursday, April 14 at 7pm. Masks will still be required at the Maundy Thursday 12:15pm service to provide a safer communion option for those who need that. 

Peace to you,

Pastor Amy

Good Shepherd COVID-19 Protocols rev. April 10, 2022 

 based on Winneshiek County Community Levels found here:

Green- low 

  • Masks optional and respected
  • Communion with bread and individual cups

Yellow- medium

  • Masks recommended
  • Communion with bread and individual cups

Red- high 

  • The CDC recommends indoor masking at this level
  • Masks required in worship
  • Communion with pre-packaged servings
  • Masks encouraged in the building, may be removed with the consent of all present

At all levels:

  • If you test positive for COVID or aren’t feeling healthy, stay home and join in worship online. 
  • If you have been exposed to COVID-19 but have tested negative, wear a mask in worship until ten days after your exposure even if you are vaccinated and boosted.
  • Fellowship Hour will continue through the spring and summer, even in red, unless the Congregation Council determines it should be suspended. People are welcome to take coffee and treats outdoors. 
  • Food may be served in the building, masks are requested in the serving line at the red level.

Ministry Support Coordinator, Erica Yaneff, will watch the CDC website each week and update signs on the doors on Friday. If there is a move in or out of the red level, she will alert the congregation via email.