Dear Friends,

            We’re all aware that the Delta Variant of COVID-19 has made its way to our community, and both case counts and positivity rates are on the rise. 1st Church’s own Dr. Cheryl Coleman describes this variant as “much more transmissible” than last year’s strains, so it’s important to acknowledge and address the threat.

            As we continue to gather for worship, learning, and fellowship, may we please strive more diligently than ever to demonstrate love, care, and compassion toward our neighbors in these specific ways?

  • If you’re able and haven’t yet, will you please consider vaccination? Dr. Coleman says, “Vaccination provides protection from infection by the virus (including the Delta variant), especially serious infection that progresses to hospitalization and death.”

  • If you are not yet vaccinated, will you please wear a mask that completely covers your mouth and nose? Since children under age 12 have not yet had the opportunity to be vaccinated, I include school-age children in this request. Without vaccination, Dr. Coleman says masks and other barrier mitigation methods are crucial safeguards.

  • If you are vaccinated, I encourage you to wear a maskespecially if you have been or may have been exposed to someone who is COVID positive, but even if you haven’t.

I have no medical training, and I claim no special insight, but faced with a dangerous threat—especially to our children—I’d simply rather err on the side of compassion and protection.

Two thousand years ago, Paul wrote to the Romans, “love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor” (12:10). I will wear a mask on Sunday morning, not out of fear or under compulsion, but simply as a show of care, compassion, affection, honor, and solidarity toward those who don’t yet have the protection of vaccine—especially our children. I welcome you to join me.

The good news is that our facilities are spacious, well-ventilated, and versatile. Those public safety features are luxuries, and I thank God for them. I’m equally grateful that we have the capacity to provide livestreams of all four weekly worship services, especially as the COVID threat intensifies again. Those livestreams are available via our website, Facebook page, and YouTube channel.

I’ve been a dad long enough to know that any decision or suggestion about group dynamics affects people differently—some rejoice, some grieve, some are content, and some are frustrated. I acknowledge my flaws and assure you that I offer this in humility and love, and only after much deliberation, discernment, and prayer.

On Sunday morning and in the days to come, thank you for all the ways you will demonstrate kindness, consideration, and grace to each other. Let us believe and trust of each other that we are all earnestly striving to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.

Peace to you,
Jonathan Jonas
First United Methodist Church |