The country, the local community and the Church are all certainly in a different place than we were a year ago! With joy and excitement, we see local vaccination rates going up, coronavirus restrictions easing, and a growing sense of comfort, with reducing tension and fear. It’s something to celebrate!
As we begin to wind down the pandemic and wind up our activities, it will be important to continue the race all the way to the finish line. Children under 12 are not yet vaccinated, so we will want to be attentive and careful in “opening up” in a way that will keep those families safe. The rapidly increasing “Delta Variant” mutation of the coronavirus is already responsible for 20% of new covid cases in the United States. This variant is radically more transmissible than the original coronavirus, and dangerous. The CDC is recommending that even vaccinated individuals continue to wear masks in indoor public places. Some places, like Israel, Australia, Los Angeles, have reinstituted mask requirements. And across the world, the virus continues to rage where vaccinations have not yet been widely available.
The “herd” is dividing. There is a “vaccinated herd,” and an “unvaccinated herd,” and the continuing pandemic will be different for each.
In the Church, we are excited for the steps forward we have been able to take. Worship in the sanctuary, singing, praying together, even with masks has been an experience of enthusiastic joy. Seeing one another’s smiles in-person after long absences has been happy and fulfilling!
Our idea in the Church’s leadership has always been to be careful and safe. We have tried hard to avoid the “two steps forward, one step backward” syndrome as we have loosened restrictions. Yet, we have been eager to take that “one step forward” when conditions seem to warrant it. At times, this approach has seemed “too slow.” More often, this approach has yielded a collective sigh of relief.
The Session, the Pastors, and the Church Staff deeply appreciate the patience and support of the entire congregation through this process of decision making and judgement about “what to do” and “when to do it.” If we have erred, it has been on the side of safety. If we have judged wisely, it has been with the input, encouragement and resolute determination from all of you to “do our best.”
Is the pandemic winding down? Yes, we hope that it is. Is it over? Not yet. But it will be, and we will keep running the race, and being attentive, all the way to the finish.
~Peace, Pastor Morton Harris