Due to the sharp increase of Covid-19 cases and testing positivity rate in our area, Council President Julie Pavri and Pr. Tricia Lowe reactivated the Church in a Changing World Task Force and asked them to meet to address the alarming trend of more cases, hospitalizations and positive tests in Yavapai County and the greater Quad City Area.
In April, the task force concluded that with the 4% or less testing positivity rate for our county achieved during the month of April, we could move into Stage 5 of reopening, with in-person worship in the sanctuary with a maximum of 55 people in the sanctuary, preregistration, social distancing, and masking, which we began in May. Early in June, with many in our congregation fully vaccinated, we removed some of these requirements including removing the mask-wearing requirement for those who were fully vaccinated.
The task force met on Tuesday, July 20 and, considering the significant increase in virus activity—especially the 14.1% positivity rate (3 times our target of 4%)—the task force recommended to the council the following actions to ensure the safety of our congregation, to which the council has agreed, effective immediately:
- A return to mask wearing during worship and for all using the church building for activities and meetings during the week. ELC will have masks on hand for those who may arrive without one.
- A renewed dedication to signing in upon arrival to worship to make sure we can contact trace if necessary.
- Reducing our singing in worship to a single verse per hymn and to keep our services to 40-45 minutes in duration to minimize exposure; and continuing to use individual communion kits, and not passing the peace or offering plates. Praise songs for the contemporary service will be trimmed to 3 minutes in length.
- Encouraging social distancing when in worship and when gathering before and after worship in the church common areas.
It is disappointing to step back into these restrictions, but as Christians we are called to protect the most vulnerable in our community, especially the elderly and children. The Delta variant of Covid-19 is highly contagious and takes less exposure to result in infection. Thank you for helping us make our worship experience as safe as possible for members and visitors.
Yours in Christ,
Pr Tricia Lowe