The Next Steps: Together Again

“My siblings, you were called to freedom; but be careful, or this freedom will provide an opening for self-indulgence.  Rather, serve one another in works of love, since the whole of the Law is summarized in a single command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’ (Gal. 5:13-14, The Inclusive Bible)

Dear Community,

We could not be prouder of St. Paul & St. Andrew.  Together, we have navigated the last 15 months with thoughtful action and open communication.  We have, with each new phase of the pandemic, responded by prioritizing the care of one another.  We have demonstrated that we take seriously the faith imperative to love our neighbors as ourselves.  We are now in another shift in context, where recent guidance released by the CDC advises that vaccinated persons can go without masks or social distancing in most public settings. And while we do think there are meaningful changes that we can make to our COVID Safety Plan, we acknowledge that church gatherings, particularly worship, are not like general indoor settings covered by most CDC guidance.

We have made decisions as a community up to this point by being careful not to embrace individual freedoms that might harm a neighbor and therefore put the community at risk.  We want to continue that standard of protection.  At church, people of mixed vaccine status are together for some time with varying ventilation. In addition, a vital part of our worship life is singing.  The CDC recommendations which suggest that there is low risk to gather indoors without masks and which also determines that it is safe to sing maskless indoors, does not take into account that those gathered are not all vaccinated.  Members of our community remain unvaccinated and at higher risk of COVID transmission. Children under the age of 12, pregnant women, and the immunocompromised have not had the opportunity to be vaccinated.  These persons are part of St. Paul & St. Andrew and deserve the highest care and protection of our community.

We will follow the recommendation of a “two out of three” approach: wearing masks and practicing social distancing indoors, and choosing either masks or distancing as a strategy when gathering outdoors.

The pandemic is not behind us.  And we are always mindful of other countries and communities who are experiencing the worst of this virus, even now.  We are called to see the connections between our actions and the consequences of them, especially towards the most vulnerable among us.  We will continue to respond to science and to the Law of love.  The guidelines below specify how we will be able to gather more frequently and in-person, but do so with care and commitment to the whole of our beloved community.

In solidarity,
Lea & K

We Will and We Won’t

We Will:

  • Continue to follow COVID-safe practices until background levels of virus are very low

  • Plan gathering and building re-opening carefully and thoughtfully.

  • Adopt a “two out of three” approach: masks, social distancing, gathering outdoors

  • Follow state, local, and any ecclesial guidelines, which are not affected by the new CDC advice

  • Provide an example of good health practices, particularly for children who have not been vaccinated

  • Gather in ways that do not exclude or put at risk unvaccinated members of the community, such as children or medically vulnerable individuals

We Won’t:

  • Decide the pandemic is over

  • Rush into re-opening, disregarding medical and commonsense advice

  • Discard safe worship practices

  • Ignore state or local health regulations or ecclesial requirements

  • Act in ways that require unvaccinated or vulnerable members to choose between being safe and participating in the community

Timeline and Protocols:

  • From now until the end of August, when we gather indoors, we will wear masks and observe social distance.

  • From now until the end of August, when we sing, indoors or outdoors, we will wear masks.

  • From now until the end of August, when adults gather in small groups outdoors and are not singing, mask wearing is optional.

  • From now until the end of August, when mixed ages gather in small groups outdoors, including children under the age of 12, we will wear masks.

  • On Sunday July 11th, we will begin offering live worship services at 11am, allowing for a limited number of persons to attend in-person, along with the worship team.  Those who attend will register in advance.  Services will be livestreamed also.

  • On Homecoming Sunday, September 19th, the building will re-open to full usage, inviting in occasional space-users and community meetings.  Until then, the building space will prioritize the West Side Campaign Against Hunger and maintain shorter hours of operation.