For the past two Sundays (12/26 and 1/2), we have paused our in-person worship and have been online only, due to the increasing, exponential spread of the coronavirus. After deep consideration and lengthy, spirited (as well as Spirited) conversation, our pandemic task force has come to a consensus conclusion that we need to remain on pause our in-person gatherings for the next two Sundays. Worship and all spiritual formation options will by fully remote for January 9 and 16. Additionally, our building will be closed for everything other than scheduled maintenance and deliveries.
Over the holidays, we have kept tabs on how our county has been affected by the Omicron variant. As in the rest of the country, the number of daily new positive cases can be plotted on a graph line that now goes straight up. In the past two weeks, our daily per capita case rate has gone from 49/100k to 159.1/100k, more than double the threshold of the “Severe Risk” level of risk.
Given Omicron’s seemingly milder profile of illness, we recognize we have entered a time when the case numbers don’t give as clear a picture as they once did. Nevertheless, it is clear we are going through a spike right now and the strain on our healthcare systems is real. Public health experts expect that we are not yet at the peak of this surge. They also anticipate that, if our trends follow those of other countries, once we do hit that peak, our cases should fall quickly. We pray this will be the case!
From now through January 18, our worship services, children’s Church School, youth group, campus ministry group, and adult Second Hour will all be online only. There will be no choir rehearsal or other in-person church gathering. Our pandemic task force will meet again on January 18 to reassess our local situation and make determinations about what to do going forward from there. We are keeping close tabs on the situation locally and nationally, and we continue to consult the wisdom of trusted public health and infectious disease authorities. We will be making our decisions based not only on case data trends (up or down) but also on other data points (such as local hospitalizations and deaths).
The happy news is that the tech equipment that will enable us to do hybrid worship is in the process of being installed this week! Our hope is that by the time we regather in person, we will be able to transition into truly hybrid worship. In the meantime, we hope you will join us from the cozy comfort of your own home for worship on our church Facebook page or YouTube channel on January 9 and January 16.
We will miss seeing you in person but will hope to see some of you on our screens at upcoming spiritual formation opportunities and other online gatherings. In the meantime, be safe and stay well.