In-Person Worship Suspended
On January 2, the Worship committee voted to suspend in-person worship services on Sunday morning. For the rest of January, we will host worship over Zoom at 11:00 and the recording will be available afterward on our website.
The Worship committee debated this decision in light of evidence that the omicron strain is milder than previous COVID-19 variants, but ultimately reached consensus that this new wave warranted a short-term movement to online. While outdoor worship continues to be a viable option in theory, the variability of the weather prompted the decision to move online as the safest, most reliable option.
I stress that the suspension of in-person worship is short-term and will be reassessed often (the next Worship meeting is January 16). This decision pertains only to the Sunday morning worship service. Separately, the Building Use Committee has temporarily suspended indoor gatherings for non-member groups.
However, small groups within our church do have the latitude to meet in-person, either outside or inside, as voted upon by session last month (December 20). Certain groups have elected to meet online. Others are meeting outside, such as our new family program called Sing, Play, and Sacred Art. As a courtesy, I would ask that each participant be included in decisions about when and where a particular small group would meet.
People have different comfort levels in terms of the relative risks they are willing to take. I welcome your feedback, including differences of opinion.
But I will emphasize that the medical opinion in our local community is consistent and clear: there is already stress on hospitals not only in terms of a high number of patients but because of decreased levels of staffing. Taking this temporary step to suspend our largest weekly gathering on Sundays is a good faith effort to respect the life-saving work of healthcare professionals as well as help to protect the most vulnerable in our community.
I am grateful for our church family. God is with us as we pass through this wave of COVID-19. Take to heart more words from Isaiah 43: You are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you.