UPDATE ON COVID-19 PRECAUTIONS
As I look back over this last year, I’m so thankful for how you, our church, have come together and continued to worship, serve, and be on mission for Jesus in the midst of this pandemic. We’ve had to make adjustments, deal with a lot of uncertainty, get used to virtual options we might otherwise have never considered, and struggle to navigate decisions on the basis of constantly changing information. Many of us have approached this pandemic differently, with different opinions of the best ways to live during this time, and yet we’ve been able to come together before Jesus Christ and live as his church, for him. God in his grace has continued to protect, bless, and guide. Praise the Lord!
A large part of coming back together has been our social-distancing practices. Life everywhere has changed as we have adjusted to wearing masks, holding back on handshakes and hugs, and trying to mentally picture what standing six feet away from someone looks like, and church has been no exception. One of the things I’ve been most thankful to God for over the past year is that with everything we have been able to do, we have had no outbreaks of the coronavirus. I know this has encouraged us to keep practicing these things, as there has been no need to change what has been working.
However, we are entering a new phase of the pandemic. While the pandemic is not over, all people over 16 are now able to get vaccines if they want them, and many members of our church and community are now fully vaccinated. Because of how well vaccines are protecting people from the virus, this past Monday Governor DeSantis signed an order suspending all Covid-19 ordinances across the state. Leon County released a statement later that day saying that mask ordinances are no longer in effect. This comes after a release last week from Florida’s Department of Health stating that fully vaccinated individuals no longer need to be advised to wear face coverings or avoid gatherings.
In light of all of this, we are targeting Sunday, May 30, as the day we will fully relax our social-distancing practices. This will include removing the ropes from every other pew, beginning coffee service again, and only encouraging masks as optional for those who would like to wear them. The reason we are asking everyone to hold on just a little longer with these practices over the next few weeks is for the benefit of those in our church under fifty years of age who have not yet had the opportunity to be fully vaccinated, because vaccines did not open up to this part of the population until April. By the end of May, all adults who have wanted to get the vaccine will have been able to do so.
I realize that we all have different comfort levels with continuing or discontinuing some of these practices, and that some of us will choose to get the vaccine while some of us will not, and that some of us will choose to keep wearing masks while others will not. No doubt, some of us rejoiced in the Governor’s executive order while some of us disagreed with it. Praise God our unity in Christ transcends these differences, and that grace abounds in our life together when we walk in the Holy Spirit. I look forward to worshipping with you all this Sunday as we celebrate Mother’s Day with parent-child dedications in both of our services.
“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21)