|September 22, 2023
First of all, I would like to say that I am proud to be part of a community that takes such good care of each other. The dedication I have seen, both in dealing with the pandemic as we were in the thick of it and in adjusting to coming out of it, has been more than impressive. It’s been inspiring.
When the Opening Task Force (OTF) was disbanded last June, they recommended we do another poll asking the congregation about their individual comfort level with masking. With 101 responses, over half of whom self-identified as over 70 years of age, the overwhelming majority (82%) stated they would be comfortable attending services if masks were optional.
The comments reflected some continued concerns about vulnerable populations, and we have done our best to accommodate everyone with the addition of livestreaming and reserving the Fireside Room to view the service for those uncomfortable with being in a larger group. Please know that livestreaming is one of the “new ways of doing things” that will not go away regardless of public health status. We have seen so many benefits of having an online presence, from out of area members participating to attracting new people. Many of our members have decided to participate in this way, whether they are concerned about exposure, out of the area, or just not able to attend in person that day.
As much as there is still a risk, especially as Covid diagnoses have mutated and increased, we will be removing the mask mandate for the Sanctuary. Masks have been optional in all other public institutions –including health care facilities– as well as all other areas of the church since last spring. Masks will still be available for those who would feel more comfortable wearing them in a group setting, and we ask that everyone respect individual choices. If you cannot hear someone, please just ask them to speak up or move closer to the mic (if applicable) and do not request they remove their mask.
We also note that the “official” start of flu season is October and continues through February. We encourage you to wear a mask if it will make you feel more safe and comfortable at any time. That said, you should still not attend services if you have any symptoms or someone close to you was recently diagnosed with Covid or any communicable disease. In this way we are all individually acting in the best interests of our entire community.
I have faith that we will continue to take care of each other by whatever means possible. Please feel free to share your comments by emailing me directly at email@example.com.
With immense gratitude,
Tess Snook O’Riva