As we approach Christmas AND brace ourselves for the way things are changing with the Omicron variant, I wanted to write to you about how we will continue to worship together at All Saints.
First, please know that though we are not epidemiologists we check daily statistics, read the latest news and advice for protecting our community, and consult with our diocesan team staffed with medical doctors. Safety is always at the forefront of our minds.
How we currently protect one another at All Saints:
Masks: We require masks of all people while indoors. Masks are only effective if worn over both nose and mouth.
Children: We provide a “children only” space (other than a small number of vaccinated, masked teachers) in church school, keeping our children connected to our community and faith formation while protecting them.
Vaccination and Caution: We are a community with high rates of vaccination and that takes science seriously, is careful about getting tested, and stays home if ill or receiving a positive test. Out of caution, many in our community have not yet returned to in-person worship.
Diocesan Requirements: We follow diocesan requirements that Communion be provided in ONE kind—individual wafers—and that masks are worn indoors.
The above precautions have kept us safe for nearly seven months at All Saints; as far as we know, there has been no transmission at church! The new Omicron variant has caused us to take another look at our behavior and guidelines. Omicron now accounts for about 75% of COVID infections in our country, spreading rapidly and multiplying quickly, even to those fully vaccinated and boosted. Luckily, the vaccine seems to prevent serious illness in most people.
Masks at ALL times: All people will wear masks at all times while inside, including readers and preachers. We STRONGLY recommend that you wear a KN95 mask or a surgical mask; you can read about where to get trustworthy ones HERE. KN95 masks protect both the wearers and those around them. Surgical masks are the next best thing. Cloth and other masks offer some but much less protection.
Social gatherings suspended: No social gatherings after or before services or at other times, including coffee hour, until further notice.
Who should worship by Livestream: Some people should not be in the sanctuary with a group of people, including those who are not fully vaccinated, those at high risk for any reason, those with any symptom of illness (even if you think it is “just allergies”), and those who are at all uncomfortable being in a large group. No one should feel that they “must” be in the sanctuary for worship during this time, which is why we offer livestream every Sunday at 11 am and for important services like those on Christmas Eve.
Notification of Covid infection: Inform Andrew or me if you or a visitor you bring to a service in person tests positive within a week of that service.
Christmas Services: We will still have in-person services on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We know after the past 22 months of missing so many special events that we all want to be together and to celebrate Christmas with in-person worship, but please follow the above guidelines. We will stream our 11pm Christmas Eve service. We do want to keep some of the special traditions of Christmas and, so, will be lighting candles for “Silent Night” at both Christmas Eve services; however, we ask that you do not blow them out inside. Instead, extinguish the candles outside after the service and leave them in the baskets that will be on our front lawn.
Dear Ones, trust me when I say that I want nothing more than to gather all of us together to hear the Christmas story, to sing our beloved carols, to experience the magic of this time with you, and I know how very tired we all are of having to cancel carefully made plans, live in constrained ways, and “pivot” constantly. I join you in that weariness. I wish I had an answer or the ability to see into the future and tell you what’s next. I don’t. What I do know is that we humans are tough and resilient and have gotten through even worse than this in our history. What I do know is that this place knows how to care for one another, how to laugh and have fun and support one another in great times and tough times, even if it has to be done over Zoom. What I do know is that the light has shone in the darkness, and the darkness has not, will not, overcome it. That’s what we celebrate this time, all times, of year. We will not be overcome, for our God is faithful.