Excitement, Joy, and Problems
"Sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same thing.” I do not know who told me that, but it has stuck with me over the years. It has been a difficult year on many levels. Closing the church facilities was never a thought in my mind other than the occasional ice or snowstorm. In facing a deadly pandemic, we were forced to shut our doors for over a year. In talking with the staff these many months, I often said that as hard as closing the facilities was, reopening would be even more problematic.
As excited and joyful as I am about June 6, the news of lessening the restrictions on masks has created an issue I did not think we would have to deal with for a while. From all I have researched, the science is clear about not requiring masks for fully vaccinated individuals attending indoor activities. This has been especially difficult for our staff and I am sure for most of you, especially those of you with children who have not had the opportunity to be vaccinated. We have been told for months to mask. Now, hearing we can go without them is challenging to say the least. The truth is the vaccines are working. Infection rates are down dramatically. Somewhere around 95% of FBC members who took our survey said they would be fully vaccinated by May. The CDC (Center for Disease Control), who has been very cautious, declared on May 13 that fully vaccinated Americans can go without face masks or physical distancing in most settings. They specifically included attending a full-capacity worship service and indoor chorus singing mask-less as safe activities for fully vaccinated individuals. So, while psychologically it may be hard for some to transition into not wearing a face covering indoors or outdoors, the top experts in the world are saying it is safe to do so (for the fully vaccinated).
I want to be clear. While we have decided to not require masking for most FBC activities, this in no way means you cannot/should not wear a mask. For all of those choosing to mask, that will be championed. Some are immuno-compromised. Some cannot get the vaccine for health reasons. Our children and those working with children will need to be masked. ANY UNVACCINATED INDIVIDUALS ARE REQUIRED TO WEAR MASKS AT FBC ACTIVITIES. We will have masks available. Hand-sanitizing stations will be plentiful. For those who prefer worshiping virtually, virtual options will continue to be offered.
My prayer is that we maintain our love and respect for each other even if we disagree. This pandemic is tricky. The virus is not eradicated and although minimal, there is still risk involved. I will support your individual decisions about returning in-person and masking. Thank you all for being gracious to me and to one another.