The Vestry, Wardens, and I have decided that, in the interest of public health, St. Luke’s will move to online-only worship starting this Sunday.
Since predicting the virus is a fool’s errand, we haven’t set a date to return to in-person worship. Instead, I’m watching the daily new case count for Olmsted County, tracked on CovidActNow (pictured; data from 1/13). When the daily new cases drop below 75 per 100,000 residents, the division between ‘critical’ and ‘extreme’, we’ll return to in-person worship. (This is subject to change; it’s my current best guess for a reasonable balance between public health and our need to worship together. I’ll keep you informed about any changes.)
I strongly believe this is the right thing for us to do. There’s no one, overarching reason, but a waterfall of little ones:
- The new cases and rate of spread is really, really high. As in, it-makes-last-winter’s-peak-look-like-nothing high.
- Omicron is much more contagious than previous variants.
- Symptoms caused by omicron are usually mild, but not always.
- Vaccination (and boosters) are usually good protection, but not always.
- Our medical system is coming under renewed strain because of the surge, increasing infections among both patients and staff. (As a doctor-friend of mine said of his evening in the ED, “Our waiting room was full of Covid cases; it’s like I could feel the proverbial bullets whizzing by.”)
- We’re probably moving toward endemic Covid, but rushing toward it is bad, leading to excess sickness, disruption, and death.
If we kept on with in-person worship, there’s a chance that, sometime in the next few weeks, we’d end up spreading Covid among our congregation. Our worship is important, but it’s not worth that risk. Especially since we can gather online (or by phone) and remain connected to one another in prayer and fellowship. It seems likely that this surge will be relatively short-lived and we can be back in person in a few weeks.
Until then, we will take a step back from our preferred routine in order to help keep our community healthy. On Sunday mornings at 9:30, we’ll gather on Zoom (by computer or phone) for worship and coffee hour. The link is below and I’ll also send out a reminder on Saturday. Since I’m still figuring out the details, I don’t yet have a bulletin for you; I’ll link include a link to the bulletin in Saturday’s email.
I hope you’re doing well and staying safe. Consider dialing back riskier activities for a few weeks to avoid infection. We aren’t returning to the awful isolation of March 2020, just taking a step back while this wave passes. God willing, we’ll be back to in-person worship soon.
As always, please don’t hesitate to connect with me if you have questions, concerns, or would just like to talk. I’m here to support you whenever you need it.
Yours in Christ, Justin