Dear Watts Streeters,
We’re writing to let you know that we are changing our COVID protocols. This Sunday, October 2, we will move to “masks optional and welcome” for indoor activities at the church. That includes Sunday worship. We will also be serving communion this Sunday (instructions around that will be in the Friday email). Children’s Sunday School classes will continue to mask in their classrooms for now.
Here’s why we are making this change. As we have throughout the pandemic, we continue to review local numbers and trends. We noted that in June children aged 6 months and older were eligible for the vaccine. We hope that this time has allowed families to access vaccination clinics to receive the appropriate doses and to give them time to develop full immunity. We are encouraged by the availability of the current booster and encourage those eligible to take this precaution. We are grateful that therapeutics and other treatments are available to mitigate the severity of infections in most cases. We are also grateful to scientists, health professionals, public health workers, advocates, and caregivers of all kinds who have helped us arrive at this point in the pandemic.
The Reopening Advisory Group believes the time has come this fall to transition to living long term with the reality of COVID. We know that masks are here to stay as part of life in some way. We know that the safety protocols we have put in place for the use of our church building will continue to need monitoring. We are encouraged by the broad general trend of positive cases moving down. We aren’t at a place of putting all worries behind us, but we are learning to live with them in different ways.
In that spirit, the advisory group recommends that we leave the decision to mask as an individual choice for each person. We are still mindful of the most vulnerable among us and that there are some among us for whom masking is not optional but necessary to protect their health and well-being. We will always welcome masks in any spaces in which we gather and anticipate that many of us will continue to wear them consistently, especially when we are gathered in big groups. Many members of our community continue to mask any time they are in public. Masks will continue to be available at the entrances of the church. We make this change knowing that there may be times in the future when there are new virus strains or surges or other metrics that lead us to restore a mask requirement for worship.
We appreciate your extraordinary support in following the safety protocols we have had in place. To that end, we will continue to ask that if you are experiencing symptoms that you engage with worship from home. We are and will continue to be a community full of people who have taken this pandemic very seriously, which makes us all the more secure in this decision to give the choice of masking back to you at this time.
Thank you for your continued care for one another. Please feel free to reach out to anyone on the staff or this committee with any questions, clarifications, or concerns.
Zac Barkjohn, Dorisanne Cooper, Jim Drennan, Hope Williams Durack, Sherrill Figuera, Mitch Heflin, Esther Soud Parker, David Rhoades, Laura Webb Smith, Rebecca Viverette