Over the past few weeks, more people from our church have been infected with COVID-19 than at any other time in the pandemic. The good news is that to the best of my knowledge, everyone is recovering well. The Omicron variant is more infectious, but really does appear to be less severe for most of us. I am glad for that.
At the same time, it makes this moment a good one to remind ourselves of how we are going forward at church.
Steps we take at Epiphany to mitigate risks: Since COVID began we have responded by changing our practices and investing in filtering upgrades to our HVAC system. I suspect some of these things have faded into the background as time has passed, but they are still operational. We use MERV-13 filters (changed on the recommended replacement schedule) and needlepoint bi-polar ionization units installed directly inside our HVAC system to limit the possibility of recirculating live viral particles. We continue to limit close contact on Sunday morning as well, by serving communion by dipping the bread into the wine, rather than sharing the cup, and by collecting our offering without passing offering plates. We have made significant use of Zoom for meetings, small groups, and other gatherings. If your group would like to schedule a virtual or hybrid meeting using our video-conference room, that is still something we can do as well. Send Mtr. Pamela an email to get on the calendar.
Facemasks: Masks remain optional in the sanctuary for those who have been vaccinated. They are required for children and teachers in Sunday School and for nursery workers. That said, current CDC guidance does strongly recommend them for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people when indoors at times like this when COVID-19 is spreading at very high levels in our area. One thing I think is worth pointing out is that cloth-only facemasks are likely ineffective in this current COVID wave. KN95/N95 are much more likely to help. While they are not as effective as KN95/N95 masks, surgical masks are better than cloth masks. We have surgical masks available at the main sanctuary door every Sunday.
Options for Worship: Right now, there are three different ways you can worship with Epiphany on Sunday. They are in the sanctuary where masks are optional but welcome, in the “mask-only” and socially distanced worship space in the fellowship hall, and the livestream (www.livestream.com/epiphanyanglican).
Finally, let me encourage you to stay home on Sunday and watch the livestream if you are not feeling well.
Friends, navigating the pandemic is hard. I join everyone in fervently praying for a time, hopefully soon, when all of this will be history. Until then, we “keep on keeping on” – doing our best to balance our need to worship, learn and minister together with our responsibility toward each other and our broader community.