Dear Church Family,
I want to thank all of you for your patience, as we took this pause from in-person gathering over the month of January. At the beginning of this month, cases in our region were spiking precipitously. With early action, I believe we helped our church family and our region avoid a more difficult situation. I continue to take seriously my responsibility to love you, your families (including your aging parents) and to set forth a humane and Christ-honoring example in our community. There is no substitute for embodying our worship, however. In-person gathering stabilizes and orients us. It reminds us of who we have covenanted to love and cherish for the sake of the Gospel. So, we will resume in-person gathering, beginning February 7.
We are making this decision for several reasons. For one, the infection rate in our area is dropping and the threat of overwhelming our regional healthcare system is receding. Second, some of you have already gone through the ordeal of this virus. Others of you have received a vaccine. Both of those facts modestly reduce the risk of spread during in-person gathering. Third, there is still room for us to do more to minimize risk (see below). Fourth, the risk must be weighed alongside your mental and spiritual wellbeing and a respect for your own freedom to make choices.
None of this frees us from the responsibility to act with love and compassion toward our church and wider community. We continue to be concerned about the health of the most vulnerable in our church. If your situation makes your contracting COVID-19 especially dangerous to your health, please be at peace and you have my blessing to worship at home for the time being.
Nevertheless, we will be adopting some extra measures to mitigate the risk of spread during in-person gathering. First, the café will remain closed for the near future. Second, we have spaced out our chairs in the sanctuary to help with social distancing. Third, for February and March, we are going to take a stronger position on masks. Please come ready to wear a mask for the entire time you are in the building. Don’t worry if you forget your mask as we will have extras at the entrances. We will re-evaluate our mask policy for April and keep you informed.
Again, thank you. So many of you have reached out with understanding and encouragement. I cannot convey the extent of my appreciation for your love and prayers for me personally. Also, we have an incredible leadership team. I have been a better pastor to you, through this time, because of them. May God bless you all!
Rev. Jason Shambach