St. Mary of the Hills
Episcopal Church
Post Office Box 14
Blowing Rock, NC 28605

June 30, 2021

Dear Friends,

For nearly a year and half, we have lived amid ever-changing restrictions and guidelines governing our common life as a congregation.  Through it all, I have been inspired as your priest at the ways in which you have extended grace to one another in the face of uncertainty and anxiety.  As conditions change, so may our need for increased restrictions in the future.

Today I write to you with another development in the way that we gather – in accordance with CDC guidance, current restrictions in the State of North Carolina, and the latest guidelines from the Diocese of Western North Carolina, masks will no longer be required at any event at St. Mary of the Hills for those who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, beginning, Sunday, July 4th.  Those who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 should continue wearing a mask (per CDC guidelines), and anyone is welcome to wear a mask without fear of being singled out for their choice or need to do so.

I am keenly aware that this is welcome news for some, while, for others in our community, this is an announcement that produces much anxiety.  The extension of grace and mercy toward one another, continuing to practice that which has guided and grounded us throughout this pandemic, is all the more important now.  

Please remember - 

Some in our community will continue wearing a mask while others will participate in the life of the parish without wearing a mask.

Some in our community live with compromised immune systems and some are not yet able to access a vaccine against COVID-19.  

Some in our community are ready to welcome close contact, such as a handshake or hug, while others need to continue practicing social distancing.  

We are called to be a place of sanctuary for the whole people of God.  

Please show care in your interactions with one another.  Ask about one another’s preferences rather than assuming that someone is comfortable with the same actions and gestures with which you are comfortable.  Honor one another’s boundaries.  Extend grace at every opportunity.

If you have questions or concerns, please be in touch with me or with a member of our Vestry.  We welcome conversation about our common life in this community of faith.

It is a joy to see each of you in Church, week by week.  If you’ve not yet made your way back to a service, I invite you to do so soon.  As ever, it is a joy to serve as your priest and rector.