Dear Church Family,
On August 3, the church Administrative Council met to update church guidelines, policies and procedures in response to the spreading Delta variant of the Covid virus. As you have no doubt heard, this new variant spreads at a far faster rate, with the potential to infect even those who have been previously vaccinated.
We are taking this potential risk seriously as we seek to protect those in our congregation and community. As we met, we also took into consideration the need for fellowship within our congregation and our desire to continue to worship, learn and be together physically.
With those factors in mind, the committee unanimously approved the following updates to our church’s policies and procedures:
1. Children and all those who work with them will continue to be required to wear masks. We are also requiring anyone who enters the children/preschool hall, even to drop off or pick up a child, to wear a mask.
2. People of any age who have not been vaccinated will be required to wear masks when anywhere in the church’s facilities.
3. Masks will not be required, but are strongly recommended for even those who have been vaccinated.
We are fully aware that, in our diverse congregation, not everyone will agree with these new measures. Some will believe that these measures do not go far enough while others will believe they go too far.
As your pastor, I want you to know that I treasure the diversity within our congregation, even when it means we do not always see eye-to-eye. I still have questions about the Covid virus generally and of the Delta variant specifically. I do not pretend to know all of the answers. I can tell you that there are members of our congregation who have been fully vaccinated who have contracted this variant. I believe that this disease is serious and will remain with us for the foreseeable future.
I am fully aware of the confusion and uncertainty that surround these issues. However, if the wearing of masks has even the possibility of limiting the spread of this virus, I am personally willing to be mildly inconvenienced or uncomfortable by donning a mask.
Your Smoke Rise church staff have committed to wearing masks during this season— not so much to protect ourselves, but to protect others, especially the most vulnerable…those who cannot be vaccinated (like our children) as well as those we may visit in homes, hospitals or assisted care facilities. We invite, but will not require, you to join with us. Masks will be available at every entrance on Sunday.
When I departed for my sabbatical, I was hopeful that the Covid pandemic was coming to a close and that we would no longer need to develop policies and practices. However, once again, we are facing a new challenge. I am pleased and proud to be a part of a congregation that, despite our differences, has demonstrated resilience, strength and unity in the midst of trying times. So, I look to the future, not with fear, but with a deep sense of faith that God is working in us and among us and will be faithful to us today and tomorrow.
Grateful to be your pastor,