An Important Message About Sunday 8/1/21

Important Information About Worship 
and our All-Church Gathering This Sunday

Good day and happy Friday, Song of Life!
I need to share some information with you this morning regarding in-person worship. Starting this Sunday, August 1, all in attendance in the Sanctuary and the classrooms, including our worship leaders and volunteers, will need to wear masks in accordance with the most recent CDC guidance. This includes those of us who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

In addition, those who attend the All-Church gathering will need to wear masks as well, except when we are eating, of course. If you will be attending this meeting, which begins at about 12:15 on Sunday, please click here by the end of the day today to let us know you are coming so we will be sure to have enough food and handouts.

This recommendation was submitted to our Leadership Board shortly after the CDC guidance was made public and was approved by a majority of the Board members.

In addition, we will ask those in the Sanctuary to either refrain from congregational singing and speaking or sing and speak softly during the hymns and Praise Songs, Call to Worship, and Opening Prayer.

We are seeing a remarkable increase in positive cases nationwide, in our state, and more importantly, in the zip codes surrounding Song of Life. We have been tracking the number of cases in the 7 zip codes that surround SoL since the beginning of the pandemic, and for months, the 7-day average (which is the standard used by the CDC and other public health professionals for determining positivity trends) has been consistently under 50 per day and was often as low as 20 or 25. This was very good news for us as we returned to in-person worship and gradually loosened our in-person requirements.

Enter the Delta variant: On July 1, 7-day average was 31 positive cases. Since then, it has increased to a high as of yesterday of 77 average cases. Yesterday’s actual number of cases in the 7 zip codes was 105. This increase is assumed to be because of the Delta variant, which is highly contagious and causes serious illness for those who are unvaccinated or haven’t received their second dose of the vaccine. Those who are fully vaccinated are generally protected from experiencing serious symptoms should they be infected with the variant, but we learned just this morning that even those who are vaccinated can more easily pass the virus to another person if they are infected with the Delta variant.

Tomorrow morning, coincidentally I am preaching on the Parable of the Good Samaritan. While my sermon will be based on the parable from the perspective of the injured man, we know the usual lesson we learn from this parable is that we are called to love our neighbors as ourselves. Those of us who are fully vaccinated, while we might become mildly ill if we are infected with the variant, can transmit the virus to someone who is unvaccinated, including a child under the age of 12, or someone who is immunocompromised and unable to receive the vaccine. As people of faith, we are called to protect and help those who are vulnerable. That’s why I will be wearing a mask on Sunday morning, and why we are expecting everyone in attendance for in-person worship to do the same (we have masks available for those who don’t have them or forget to bring them).

We realize this means some of you who were planning to attend in-person worship this Sunday may choose to stay home instead and join us online at live.songoflifeumc.org. We are grateful to God that we have this option to fall back on should we need to. If you choose to attend online instead of in-person, we will understand. We are thankful for your presence, whether in-person or on-line.

Please pray for our community, our state, and our country as we continue to fight this virus. Pray that those who have chosen so far to be unvaccinated will change their minds and will get vaccinated as soon as they can. Also pray that those of us who are fully vaccinated will do everything we can to stop the spread and help keep our friends and neighbors safe against this virus. And finally, pray for our church as we continue to navigate through this unprecedented and difficult time.

We thank you for your prayers and your grace.

Grace and Peace,
Pastor Jody