June 17, 2021
Dear Saints of Trinity,
We had a scare this week. It was serious and related to COVID-19. This is what I wrote to you last Tuesday. It was based on a situation we had at the church that offered a wake-up call for all of us.
“I need to report to you that we’ve all been potentially exposed to COVID. Last Wednesday, one of the outside groups that meet in the fellowship hall was led by someone who was unknowingly carrying, and therefore spreading the disease. She did not wear a mask, had no symptoms that day, became sick the following day, and was ultimately diagnosed with the deadly virus. She was one who believed that her faith would keep her safe. It didn’t. What that means is that she exposed that group to COVID, and in so doing, exposed this church to the virus. We are trying to figure out what steps we now need to take to make sure everyone is safe, and that this doesn’t happen again. This was a wake-up call for us. It’s why we will continue to wear masks on Sundays, continue to try and socially distance, and continue to try and keep each other safe. The virus is still active, and it is opportunistic. Let’s take care of one another as we continue through this time.”
Friends, I received a number of reactions and responses to this “Alert” and want to let you know we’re taking them all very seriously. Here’s what I mean.
We will be reminding all church groups and outside groups that they are required to strictly follow the guidelines set forth by our denomination, County medical officials, State officials, and the CDC. Each of those organizations must clearly agree that if there are unvaccinated individuals in any group, the entire group needs to remain masked, needs to be social distancing, and needs to make sure that sanitation protocols are followed. We know that here at Trinity, there are those among us who could not be vaccinated because of health challenges. We need to protect them. For all others, particularly some of our outside groups, part of the challenge is that following protocols requires honesty from all members of every group; trust that requires honesty about whether or not each member has been fully vaccinated. And a reminder, to be fully vaccinated means two shots and a two-week waiting period following the second shot. If there are individuals in any group who either don’t believe that COVID is real, and therefore remain unvaccinated, or individuals who refuse to wear masks, given what has now happened, we will ask that those groups find another location to meet. We won’t place this church at risk again. As harsh as that may sound, as those who seek to follow John Wesley and even Jesus, “Do no harm” is one of our most precious and prominent statements for us. One more thing.
We all know that, particularly for our most vulnerable, being vaccinated does not guarantee that they won’t contract COVID. They can, and if exposed, can get very sick. We now see that in the care facility here in Clallam Country that currently has fourteen cases. Those cases were brought into that facility by someone who was unvaccinated and who wasn’t careful about wearing a mask. I can’t help but look at the result of that as carelessness. COVID is not behind us. The pandemic is not over. It’s getting better and is growing smaller as more people are vaccinated, but in no way does that mean that we can let down our guard. So we won’t.
Part of my role as pastor is to make sure we continue to be a safe place; a safe place to worship, to pray, to meet, and to offer love and safety to one another. Part of that love currently comes in the form of a mask. I want to assure you that we will continue to follow the direction of those who know more about this than we do. That includes the CDC and our own medical personnel. Let’s continue to pray for one another as we continue to move toward safely reopening.
Some Concerns that we have:
- For those who continue to go through physical struggles, those who are dealing with cancer, or other health situations. For those who are emotionally feeling lost and alone.
- For all those who are ill from the Covid-19 virus; for those families who have lost loved ones to the virus; for essential workers; and for those who haven’t been vaccinated yet.
- For peace in our country.
- For Katherine Parker, missionary to Nepal.