A COVID-19 Message from Pastor Jody

A Message from your Pastor
(especially for those living in Arizona)

Good evening friends. I hope you’ve had a good week. I wanted to share something that I believe God has laid on my heart today. As many of you know, Governor Ducey recently held a press conference indicating that Arizona would begin gradually “opening up” starting this Friday. He shared several graphs that he said indicates that Arizona meets the federal guidelines for opening up the economy, including 14 days of a “downward trajectory” in the number of cases and deaths. He also announced that, starting tomorrow, salons and barbershops will be allowed to open with restrictions, and that restaurants could do the same starting on Monday. He also announced that Arizona’s stay-at-home order, set to expire on May 15, would not be extended. As I’m sure you can see, these announcements have great implications for those of us living in Arizona.

In addition, just yesterday, we received an update from our Bishop indicating that, in his opinion, we are not ready to resume in-person gatherings of any size, including worship, study groups, and meetings. He said in his letter that he is keeping a close eye on the situation as it relates to the virus, and I trust his judgment when it comes to making these very difficult decisions.

Even though the Governor indicated in his press conference that Arizona had met the 14 day downward trajectory required by the federal government, the facts do not bear that out. All you have to do is check the AZ DHS website to see that what the Governor said is not true. What’s more, as of today, we have nearly 10,000 confirmed cases, and over 450 deaths related to COVID-19. But what’s even more disturbing is that when it comes to testing, only 12.6 people per 1,000 Arizonans have been tested for the virus, which places us #51 behind all the other states and the District of Columbia. And finally, according to models developed by researchers at both ASU and UofA, Arizona won’t reach its peak in COVID-19 cases until the end of May or possibly June. In fact, they advised the Governor to keep Arizona’s economy closed until the end of May at the earliest…advice he chose to ignore.

Which leads me to what I believe God has laid upon my heart all day long. I know that many of you have cabin fever. You want your lives to get back to normal. I know those who are financially burdened are eager to get back to work, and those with children can’t wait for their kids to be able to go outside and play with their friends. I get it, because I’m right there with you. I can’t wait to get a pedicure, or a massage, or have dinner out. I’ll be so glad when I can go to a coffee shop to work and visit with people. Most of all, I can’t wait to be in worship – together, with all of you – in our sanctuary like before. But now is not the time to do any of those things because, based on the scientific reports and statistics I’ve seen and heard, we’re not there yet. It’s too soon. We need to continue to shelter in place just a little while longer.

And so, I’m sending this note to ask you, because I care about you so very deeply: if you are thinking about going out tomorrow or in the near future to get a haircut or a manicure, please reconsider and wait at least a couple of weeks. And if you’re planning on going out to dinner starting on Monday, please reconsider and wait at least a couple of weeks. Because according to the science and the medical community, it’s too soon; it’s not safe; and you could be putting yourself at risk. I want you to be safe and healthy, and I know God wants you to be safe and healthy as well. So please rely on your better judgment – and the science – and don’t be swayed by either your own cabin fever, or the politicians who are eager to move on. And if you do decide to go out, please remember to wear a face covering over your mouth AND nose, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, and carry a bottle of hand sanitizer with you, and use it often.

Please know you are always in my prayers every day. And may God continue to be with you and bless you and keep you during this unusual time in which we are living.

Grace and Peace,
Pastor Jody