August 20, 2021
Dear Members of Westminster:
Another week, another pandemic update — I know many of you receive these updates with some weariness. I know how tired you are of the pandemic. I am too. I’m tired of using the word “pivot,” I’m tired of hearing about hospitals filling with Covid patients, and I am tired of the suffering that so many in our world are going through because of this virus.
At the same time, I am extraordinarily grateful to our staff, our Session, our Covid-19 Task Force, and to all of you. It’s been a joy to see so many of you in worship these past weeks, even with masks! Your perseverance and faithfulness in the face of so many challenges and surprises are a continuing source of encouragement and grace. And despite my weariness, I remain committed to protecting you, protecting our community, and protecting the most vulnerable among us.
With that in mind, at our stated meeting last Sunday, the Session received the most recent information regarding the rise of the Delta variant — in particular the variant’s impact on unvaccinated children and the health care system.
The Session expressed a clear and resounding desire to do everything in its power to protect the children in our care and maintain our full ministry and programming schedule for the Fall. With the most recent data in hand, the Session adopted a policy on Sunday that anyone 5 years of age (5K) and older must wear a mask when inside Westminster’s facilities. It is of utmost importance to the Session that we continue to gather safely in-person, and that we protect our unvaccinated children from Delta. Whether in worship or at an interest group meeting, whether vaccinated or not, when at Westminster you must wear a mask. By mandating masks indoors, we believe we are doing the best we can to protect our children, alleviate the pressure on our caregivers, and stop community spread of this pernicious variant.
There will, of course, be small but necessary exceptions to this policy. Preachers and liturgists will not be required to mask when they are speaking from the chancel, lectern, and pulpit. Vaccinated adults in our choirs will continue to sing anthems without masks.
Like you, I hope that the “Delta wave” will soon pass. Like you, I hope that a vaccine for children 11 years old and younger will arrive in the near future, and that the vaccinations will receive full FDA authorization. Like you, I hope that making changes due to the pandemic will shortly come to an end.
But no matter how long we need to mask indoors or make adjustments, I am beyond grateful every time I can see you in person at Westminster! It has made such a difference just to be able to talk with you after worship, or during our summer fellowship, or prior to a committee meeting. You are a living reminder to me of Jesus’ command to “love our neighbors as we love ourselves.”
So, thank you for your patience. Thank you for your flexibility. Thank you for your willingness to protect the most vulnerable among us. And thank you for sharing the joy and hope of Jesus Christ as a part of our church family! I hope to see you in worship these coming weeks.