A few days ago, your leadership team met virtually to consider Martin’s status as have entered a new year and vaccines have become available. Many of you, as well as some of us, have received the first vaccine dose and we have already received questions about small groups, other ministries, and worship resuming as more people anticipate being vaccinated. We want to be faithful as we navigate this new season, and we can sense the building anticipation!
Our challenge continues to be making decisions that support keeping our congregation and staff safe, as well as being good citizens and partners to the health care providers in our area. For spiritual guidance we have long looked to John Wesley’s 3 Rules: Do No Harm, Do Good, Stay in Love with God, and to the Great Commandment as we endeavor to love both God and our neighbors with all we are. From the beginning, we also established that we would follow the science and COVID data regarding the numbers of new cases, rate of infection, and hospitalization and death rates. Additionally, we have committed to being responsive to the requests of Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley and Bishop Mike Lowry who continue to ask that faith communities gather online only.
Let us look at the current situation:
- The number of Covid-19 cases continues to rise in Tarrant and Dallas counties and are at the highest rates since the pandemic began.
- ICU beds are in very short supply in our region, and the health care teams are stressed to the limit.
- As of this writing, new strains of the virus have been detected and have been identified as being spread more easily than the initial strain.
- Many in our congregation are anxious to be vaccinated and others are electing not to receive the vaccine. Because of the unknown timeframe of future vaccinations, the immunity of the congregation and the public is unknown.
We must also remember that regarding the worship team that creates our Sunday morning worship experience, all but one will remain ineligible for vaccination for several months yet. We cannot risk the team contracting the virus by relaxing our guidelines or we compromise even our online worship for the duration of illness and recovery.
The Leadership Team is committed to continuing our current course as we continue to monitor COVID case data and ICU availability, as well as vaccination access and rates. We have weathered the consequences of this virus raging in our community for 10 months, and we all yearn to return to some kind of normalcy. However, we must continue to be faithful and safe, and the campus will remain closed to small group or worship gatherings at this time.
It has taken all of us working together to maintain the level of connection, continuity and support that we have enjoyed over these many months. We are so proud of who Martin has proven itself to be, and we know we will persevere as we finish this unwanted marathon of a race. We will continue to communicate with you regularly, and we ask for understanding and grace as we all continue to navigate this unprecedented pandemic.
Please do not hesitate to ask questions as often as necessary.
Your Leadership Team,
Douglas Northup, Lay Leader
Debbie Bryant, Church Council Chair
Stan Crosser, Trustee Chair
Chickie Williams, SPR Chair
Garry Hamilton, Finance Chair
Reverend Lara Whitley Franklin, Senior Pastor
Reverend Faiana Prescott Funaki, Associate Pastor