In our now long-standing effort to care for the health of our community by following the guidance of public health officials, we will again require masks while inside the church building regardless of vaccination status beginning Sunday, August 22. The CDC, State of Michigan, and Washtenaw County have all recommended that everyone wear a mask while in public, indoor settings in areas of “substantial” or “high” levels of transmission. Our county is currently experiencing “substantial” levels of transmission bordering on “high,” as is shown on the state dashboard.
I realize that this feels like a step backwards. With the emergence and now prevalence of the delta variant of COVID-19, we haven’t experienced this level of community transmission in Washtenaw County since early May of this year. Like the airline pilot turning the seatbelt sign back on to account for changes in weather patterns, our mitigation efforts must adapt to the situation at hand to best care for the health of our community.
As Christians, caring for the vulnerable among us is always our utmost priority, just as Jesus demonstrated in healing the sick and calling the children to him. Wearing masks while indoors is an effective method of protecting unvaccinated children, the immunosuppressed, and any others who may be unvaccinated or for whom the vaccine is less effective. It is important for us to be together in a way that does not risk anyone’s health.
At the same time, I know that this is not the news we were all hoping for. We are growing weary of the pandemic and wearing a mask can be bothersome. I feel the same way! As is done frequently in the psalms, we might offer our frustrations in a shouted prayer of lament so that we might remember again what we have always known: God is faithful, God will strengthen us, and God will lead us through.
Recognizing that one frustration with masks is that they can muffle a speaker’s voice, those speaking or singing solo in worship will remove their masks to do so; those singing in groups will remain masked. At this time, we will maintain our encouragement to practice social distancing and continue standing and singing as a congregation in worship. If you have any additional questions about masking or our COVID-19 mitigation strategies as a whole, please reach out to me at any time by phone or email.
I look forward to worshipping with you again this Sunday as we continue to be bound together in worship of the One who guides us every day.