To All Who Worship the Living God:
Municipalities and civic institutions in our area are relaxing mask mandates in light of improved public health conditions. I’m sure you’ve noticed The Great Unmasking in many area shops and gathering places. These policies are justified by an updated Covid-19 framework recently released by the CDC. Area faith leaders met recently for a briefing on this new framework and to discuss how to apply it in our congregations. We believe that continued masking in worship is the best approach for now because it contributes to a feeling of safety necessary for congregational activity. While the CDC’s model makes indoor masking optional for Yellow counties like our county, we won’t consider a mask-optional policy until our county is coded Green. When we reach Green status, we will consider when to change our approach. This is because our churches are home to many seniors and medically vulnerable populations, and we know that many would be unable to participate in worship without a mask policy in place.
In light of these developments, I’d like to share with the congregation a brief summary of our current community covenant. I understand that the policies listed here differ from most major institutions in our community. I hope that navigating them will help us to practice two values important to the church as a covenantal community: concern for those most vulnerable, and charitable dialogue in the midst of the differences between us.
- Masking is expected of all who attend indoor worship at United Church of Chapel Hill.
- Masking is optional for outdoor activities.
- Masking is optional in small groups of adults, but groups should discuss masking needs in order to develop a covenant that is inclusive of all participants. Continue to mask in places where you may encounter others with whom you have not discussed masking needs (such as the hallways and main office).
- Food, coffee, and tea will increasingly be served indoors. In the Fellowship Hall, masking is encouraged when one is not eating or drinking.
- Indoor programs for youth and children sponsored by the church will continue to require masking at least until April 3. This is similar to the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Public Schools policy, but, unlike the public schools, the faith community cannot consider a mask-optional policy until our county is coded Green by the CDC.
I want to say thank you to everyone in our church community because you have been so considerate of our Covid policies throughout the pandemic. We appreciate your continued support. Our desire is to make worship as inclusive as possible for everyone, and with our continued attention to masking in the weeks ahead I feel sure that we will continue to welcome our church families back into regular patterns of worship and community life.
Rev. Cameron Barr