COVID-19 has drastically affected our lives. During this time, people need a loving and supportive church community and the assurance of faith more than ever. Onalaska UMC continues to shine the light and hope and love of Christ into the world. We are worshiping together online, serving our people, and engaging in community outreach and mission. We are now offering limited in-person live worship. Watch the video below or read on to see how it works.

Our COVID-19 Team is responsible for planning our response: Dr. Mark Beahm (COVID-19 Team chair,, Megan Barbian (RN, Lay Leader), Rev. Park Hunter (pastor,, Wes Panzer (Church Council chair), Becky Barnes (Stephen Ministry), Jeff Moorhouse (Trustees chair), Jessica Gobel (Children’s Ministries), Paul Bratsch (Discipleship Ministries), Jerry Arndt (at large), Sandy Koster (at large).

Current Status  |  Live Worship  |  Congregational Letters  |  Policies and Plans

Current Status: Medium (Limited Open)

OUMC uses guidance provided by the Coulee COVID-19 Collaborative, a joint effort of the La Crosse County Health Department, Mayo, and Gundersen Health Systems. Their recommendations are based on local data and multi-day trends.

The La Crosse County Health Department’s website includes testing and vaccination information. The county published a new public health advisory January 29, 2021. The following is OUMC’s current guidance:

  • All aspects of OUMC’s Operational Safety Plan in place (health checks, masking, social distancing, thorough cleaning, record keeping, etc.).
  • Business operations conducted by staff in the building, with the option of working from home whenever possible.
  • Worship, classes, meetings, gatherings are encouraged to meet online, but may gather in person if following Safety Plan. Choirs and musical groups should seek guidance of the COVID Team.
  • Limit indoors gatherings to 75% of room capacity.
  • Weekly worship with limited in-person (see below) and livestream (

Live Worship

Currently, Onalaska UMC has limited in-person live worship along with our livestream. Our COVID-19 team asks that those who worship with us in-person follow these best practices to keep each other safe.

Check-in First CHECK-IN FIRST
Sign-up a group of 1-5 people the week ahead. Check-in at the door.
We have 29 spots per service which can be reserved Monday-Saturday for the following Sunday. Each spot can hold 1-5 people from the same household or “bubble.” Reserve online (Classic or Praise) or through the office (608-783-3380), and check-in at the entrance when you arrive. Call the office to cancel. Sorry, no walk-ins on Sunday morning.
Enter from 4th Avenue or the covered drop-off. 
East and west. Come in from either the covered drop-off entrance (east) or the 4th Avenue entrance (west).
Six, Mask, Squirt SIX, MASK, SQUIRT
6-foot safe distancing, wear a mask, use a squirt of hand sanitizer.
Use 6-foot safe distancing and wear a mask at church. Get a squirt of hand sanitizer by the entrances. For your safety, no hugs or handshakes. Sorry!
No bibles or hymnals. Pick up programs and communion on the way in. 
Nothing to hold during the service! Songs are on the screens. Bring your own bible. Give online or drop your offering in the basket by the sanctuary door. Pick up programs and individual sealed communion packs before entering the sanctuary. Leave empty communion packs in the bowls in the seats.
Enjoy the music, but don’t sing out loud.
Please enjoy the worship music in your head, but don’t sing out loud. Group singing is not yet recommended because of the danger of spreading the virus.
Exit Left & Right EXIT LEFT & RIGHT
Go out the side aisles when the ushers dismiss your group after worship.
Ushers will dismiss you by row at the end of the service. Please go to the outside aisles, not the center aisle, and leave the church promptly.
Leave the church promptly and visit outside. 
No coffee hour or small groups in church Sunday, but you are welcome to visit with friends and guests outside the building after the service.
Kids can stay in church and worship and play with families.
No nursery service is available at this time, but we love having kids (and kid noise) with us in church! Bring quiet toys for them to play with.

Congregational Letters

  • 2021 Spring Reopening Plan (PDF) – March 16, 2021 letter from the COVID-19 team with plans for limited in-person worship starting April 18.
  • 2021 Winter Update (PDF) – January 19, 2021 update from the COVID-19 team about the ongoing pandemic.
  • 2020 Fall Plans (PDF) – September 9, 2020 letter from the COVID-19 team with updates on safe practices and special events for the fall.
  • Re-Opening Plan (PDF) – June 11, 2020 letter from the COVID-19 team outlining our phased re-opening plan and summer events.
  • WI Court Response (PDF) – May 15, 2020 letter from the COVID-19 team responding to the Wisconsin Supreme Court decision with our ongoing plans to protect and serve our congregation and community.
  • Staying Connected (PDF) – March 20, 2020 pastor’s letter at the start of the pandemic listing ways we can stay connected.
  • Safer at Home – March 14, 2020 pastor’s letter describing how OUMC can continue to fulfill our mission and vision during the pandemic.

Policies and Plans

  • COVID-19 Response Plan (Google Doc) – Our COVID-19 Team’s process for determining the risk level and recommendations for re-opening the church in phases. May be updated periodically.
  • Operational Safety Plan (Google Doc) – Detailed list of requirements for using the building in Phases 1 and 2 based on best practices from the CDC and other authorities. May be updated periodically.
  • Room Occupancy Estimates (PDF) – Safe occupancy estimates for rooms at OUMC based on 6′ safe distancing and various capacities.