Dear Saint Luke’s Family,
 
As you may know, the CDC yesterday offered significant updates to its COVID mitigation guidance, including a new calculation by which local risk is assessed (a combination of new cases and hospitalizations, click here for the full announcement). Risk levels in most metro Atlanta counties (including Dekalb, Fulton, and Gwinnett), by these new determinations, is considered “low,” and where the risk level is low, the CDC now recommends that masks are optional. 
 
Therefore, as a church that has from the beginning of the pandemic sought to care for each other and our neighbors as guided by public health science and the CDC’s recommendations, starting tomorrow, Sunday, February 27th, we will no longer require masks indoors. We will encourage everyone to wear a mask based on your personal preference, informed by your personal level of risk. 
 
We are grateful for the improving conditions that make this determination possible, and we recognize the key role that full vaccinations (including the booster shot), mask wearing, and cases play in reducing the threat level in our community. Therefore, we continue to strongly encourage that everyone able make sure their vaccinations are up to date (including booster), and that those who are not fully vaccinated and have not had COVID in the last 90 days continue wearing masks to mitigate risks to you and others.
 
Our new protocols and practices, as long as the threat level remains “low,” will include the following:
  • Masks are optional indoors, up to personal preference informed by your personal level of risk, for worship, classes, activities, and meals
  • Masks are still encouraged for those who are not vaccinated and have not had COVID in the last 90 days
  • Safe distance is still encouraged when sitting or in place for longer periods of time
  • Singing with masks optional is now permitted for the choir and congregation, provided suitable social distance is maintained
 
While we celebrate the safer community that makes lightening limitations advisable, we also recognize that people in our congregation and community have different needs and comfort levels as we lean into this significantly different public health guidance. Therefore we also encourage being supportive, compassionate, and gentle with each other as we live into this change together. 

We will also strive to make sanctuary space feel as safe as possible for those not yet able or comfortable to be in proximity to those unmasked. So starting tomorrow, the first two pews on the left side of the sanctuary and the first two pews on the left side of the sanctuary balcony will be reserved for those who need or prefer a more controlled and masked environment.  Worshippers who want or need such space are welcome to use it, and it is appreciated of everyone else to keep that space available for them. 
 
Thank you for taking good care of each other and our neighbors during these pandemic times. Change is not easy or always comfortable, but we can be grateful for improvements, mindful how careful practices can indeed make a difference, and loving toward one another always in everything we do.
 
Peace of Christ be with you.

Sincerely,
David