Frequently Asked Questions
Why don't we just return to normal, with live, indoor worship services? From the beginning of this pandemic, we have mentioned our commitment to erring on the side of caution and abiding by the consensus recommendations of medical experts. As guidelines have ebbed and flowed throughout the year along with case counts and hospitalizations, we have adjusted our gathering practices accordingly. But one consistent message is that large indoor gatherings for extended periods of time, especially involving things like singing, are the highest risk and most imprudent thing that we could do. In accordance with that consensus, that is the only thing we have completely avoided throughout this year. So, we will continue to look for creative ways to gather indoors in smaller groupings and outdoors in larger groupings, until we receive the all-clear that something akin to our previously normal indoor worship services would no longer present a substantial community health risk.
As COVID-19 lingers in our community, why are we meeting in person at all? While we have taken a cautious and measured approach from the beginning of this pandemic, there are many spiritual and emotional needs that run at odds with simply remaining in indefinite isolation, especially for those who live alone or have limited technological capacity to connect remotely. We have done our very best throughout the pandemic to heed the recommendations of medical experts, and our in-person gatherings have changed in accordance with what we have been asked by governing authorities to do and to avoid. At times, we have connected exclusively online, when case counts and hospitalizations were high. When things have improved and guidelines have loosened, we have adjusted accordingly. Because we believe that being physically together is important, we will continue to use creativity and flexibility to find whatever ways we can to gather, with appropriate mitigation efforts in effect until they are no longer deemed necessary.
How will the vaccines impact the reopening plan? Like many of you, we remain hopeful that the vaccines will help us to minimize the spread of the virus and help to minimize the physical impact of those who end up with the virus. However, we know that the vaccines will not immediately transform the reality of this public health crisis, as some experts suggest that as many as 90% of the general population will need to be vaccinated for our community to reach herd immunity, and we are months away from approaching that vaccination rate. Our hope is that a season of outdoor worship services, coinciding with beautiful spring weather, will allow us to gather safely in larger numbers while we wait for the right time to return indoors.