With area COVID-19 cases declining and based on recent announcements from Governor Inslee, Audubon Park Church is reviewing all of our Covid-19 related protocols to determine which aspects will continue and which aspects can be altered in light of evolving guidelines.
Our church's Core Leadership Team, pastoral leadership, and staff have all spent significant time prayerfully discerning how God is calling our church to move forward at this time. We have sought to allow for choice and the lifting of some restrictions while also protecting those who are vulnerable and/or don't have the protection provided by vaccination.
As has been true throughout the pandemic, there are differing needs among us and different levels of concern and comfort related to Covid-19 safety. We understand some members of our community may feel uncomfortable with any relaxation of restrictions and precautions, while others may feel changes such as lifting our masking requirement aren't happening quickly enough. We recognize these concerns and will continue to follow guidance from regional, state, and national health authorities.
The following changes to our protocols for indoor in-person gatherings will go into effect beginning Sunday, March 13:
- WORSHIP: Wearing a mask and social distancing are encouraged but are not required for worship services. We will be creating mask-required sections in the balcony and at the back of the sanctuary. We will continue to refrain from singing for now but hope to also resume congregational singing soon. We are also still waiting to resume Coffee Hour after worship but are preparing to resume this important fellowship time soon.
- CHILDREN: We still have children participating who are not eligible for vaccination due to their age. Sunday School for ages 5th grade and younger and all other children's activities will still require masking and social distancing while indoors for all participants and leaders.
- SMALL GROUPS/BIBLE STUDIES: Each small group, bible study, and ministry should consider the needs of those participating and have a conversation regarding what precautions are needed for the group. In this, we need to remain committed to Christ's call to love our neighbor and our United Methodist General Rules: 1. Do no Harm. 2. Do Good. 3. Stay in Love with God. Contact the leader of your group or ministry to learn more.
Continued masking in the building is welcome and may be a preferred option for some people for a variety of reasons. You may wish to wear a mask if you or a family member are medically vulnerable or in consideration of people in the community who have personal health concerns.
If you are having symptoms of Covid-19 or other illnesses you should remain home and get tested for Covid-19 before returning. If you test positive for Covid-19 you should follow CDC guidelines for self-isolation. Masks should still be worn in the church building if you have a potential exposure to someone who is ill, but are not yourself showing symptoms, or are past your self-isolation but within 10 days of a COVID-19 diagnosis.
As your pastor, I have been so impressed with the grace and love with which our church has navigated the ups and downs of the pandemic, the restrictions, the closures, and even the technical difficulties as we have had to do church in different ways. I encourage us to persevere in showing love and grace to one another in this next season of the Covid-19 health crisis.
If you have questions or concerns, please contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Linn Sampson (email@example.com), our Core Leadership Team chairperson.