You are leading well, and in the coming days and hours will be charged with officiating some of the most exciting and anticipated services in the church calendar. The change from Advent to Christmas, then on to 2022, will be as memorable as any we've had in recent years.
Yet in the midst of this we are seeing staggering cases of COVID now being detected in the city. 11,000 new cases yesterday in the 5 boroughs, and another 8,000 statewide, means NYS now records over 10% of the COVID cases nationwide. These numbers are growing at unprecedented rates every day. New Jersey and Connecticut are experiencing similar outbreaks and breakthroughs.
Several churches we monitor in the greater NYC area have already canceled, or moved online, their Christmas Eve and Sunday gatherings. That decision, of course, has to be yours and that of your church leadership. As your DS, I'm going to stand behind whatever decision you make. But I'd be less than honest if I didn't say this new fast moving virus has me worried for all of you and those you shepherd.
NYC hospital officials are telling us their greatest concern now is that any staff exposed must take a 10 day quarantine before returning to work. This will have devastating effects on our health care workers and staff and force those who remain unexposed to work incredible hours away from family. I know you will be in prayer for those of our Nazarene family for which this will be their reality this week.
If you do decide to keep in person gatherings, please remember that NYS has a mask mandate. We are directed at the highest level of the denomination to comply with local and state health authorities, and I'm asking you to please do that.
Some of you will no doubt have pushback from your congregants no matter the decision you make; some of you may still have questions. If you do have questions, Bruce Barnard is staying on top of this situation and trying to get as much information as possible to help you make your decision. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or his personal cell is 845-544-3121.
I know this is not the Christmas season any of us wanted or expected. But our God is a God of great power and strength even in the unexpected. We'll be in prayer for you as you seek to find His will for your Christmas.