Dear Friends,

August 13.  I pray you are well.  There are new changes to our COVID protocols on Sunday morning.  

The 8AM service has no restrictions.  

The 10AM service is mask mandatory for all persons, unless speaking.  This includes vaccinated and unvaccinated persons.  Singing will be limited.  Coffee hour is suspended.  

I am concerned with the rise in COVID cases in Lucas County and our community.  I am hoping the surge is temporary.  The benchmark for lifting restrictions is the infection rate as cited by the CDC.  Lucas County is currently Substantial.   

This policy is driven by my concern for the safety of our children.  They are not vaccinated.  This means they are not safe at church with a gathering of adults who may or may not be vaccinated.   Vaccinated adults can and do spread the virus unknowingly.  I have several friends currently in home quarantine with COVID positive tests and they are fully vaccinated.  We want our children to join us in church and we want them to be safe.  Parents make the decision to bring their children to church.  We make the decision to provide a safe environment.  

Please know the vestry does not have consensus on this issue.  They are divided and have a variety of opinions on how to best navigate the pandemic.  I believe vestry accurately reflects the varied opinions of the parish membership.  I consider our diverse opinions a sign of spiritual health, particularly in the way vestry honors one another with respect and dignity.  On the other hand, frustration, anger, and resentment are not a healthy response to our shared COVID experiences.  Everyone wants to be safe and everyone has different opinions how to best exercise their own spirituality.   I serve as rector and I carry the responsibility of advocating for everyone.  

I considered applying restrictions at the 8AM service, but decided against after consulting with vestry. Summer patterns have not seen children at this service.  My focus is on their safety.  Your participation at the 8AM service, without a mask requirement, is your choice.  I will stand with you to exercise your choice at 8AM.  I insist you wear a mask at 10AM until the local infection rate drops to Moderate.  The data is published weekly.  Your cooperation is an act of hospitality to our children and the unvaccinated, whatever their reason or medical liability.  As our senior warden Jaimie Deye says, wearing a mask is not a big ask.  Please look below to her letter to vestry.  I asked her permission to share it with the congregation.  I find it inspirational.   

I keep you all in my prayers.  I ask for your prayers.  I pray this current surge in infections declines soon.  We know how to protect one another with simple precautions.  

In Peace, Paul+