Updates: Pandemic Precautions + Youth Confirmationby The Rev. Daniel P. Strandlund on August 19, 2021
Two updates for us this week are pandemic precautions and details for youth confirmation.
First: Your Bishop’s Committee and I met this past Sunday via Zoom. On our agenda was to re-evaluate our current COVID precautions in light of the recent upsurge and Delta variant. Given our current climate and recent updates from the CDC, we’ve discerned that what is best for St. Liz right now is that all persons wear masks while indoors, regardless of vaccination status.
Additionally, we are resuming Morning Prayer on Tuesdays at 8:30 am at the altar rail, starting on Tuesday, August 24. Based on feedback from Godly Play families, we are delaying resuming Godly Play until a later date. There are no other changes at this time.
By way of a reminder: If you attend Sunday worship and subsequently learn that you are COVID positive and may have been while at worship, please contact me directly and let me know. I will email the congregation to let everyone know of a potential exposure so that folks may act as they see fit. I will not use your name, seating location, or any other identifying details in that communication. As always, if you are ill or are awaiting COVID test results after exposure, please stay home.
In regard to masks, you’ll notice that I’ve not used the words “mandate” or “requirement.” You will also notice that I’m no longer using the word “optional.” In practice, what this means is that if someone shows up for worship on Sunday without a mask on, they will not be asked to leave or made to wait outside or anything like that. But they’ll likely be offered a mask. (We have them in the lobby.) At the start of service, I’ll also ask everyone to wear masks during worship and remind folks we have them available if anyone forgot them at home.
Why the change?
The pandemic landscape is shifting again, and we’re trying to shift with it. The current upsurge in cases and the heightened transmissibility of the Delta variant have dealt a blow to the sense of security and freedom from restriction many of us were beginning to rediscover earlier in the summer. We need to adjust. At St. Liz specifically, many of us are uncertain of the risk the new variant poses to children, and many of us are caring for elderly family members who are vulnerable. While it remains true that most of us have very little likelihood of serious illness, it also remains true that we could transmit to folks who may be more vulnerable. It is also true that the current rate of hospitalization is as high as it has been since the pandemic began. Particularly when medical workers are low in number and morale, the rise in hospitalizations impacts the availability of medical resources to patients of all kinds, not just COVID patients. We have to be the Church in a way that accepts these realities. What we do with our bodies is fundamental to our discipleship.
At the same time, we need Church to feel like Church to the greatest extent possible. None of us wants to go back to “online only” or only being able to gather outside, especially in August. There are no zero-risk options right now, and we must carry on as best we can. Life is still to be lived. Our current fears and anxieties are instinctual responses that can help us make good decisions, but they are not stars by which we can navigate for the long haul. The love of God in Jesus Christ is. Jesus is our rule and our guide in this, as in all things. He was motivated by love for God and for neighbor, not by fear, even though he certainly felt it. (“Father, let this cup pass from me.”) At the same time, neither was he reckless. He offered his body to secure the wholeness and healing of all. We should do likewise in how we comport ourselves. If and when we need to make other adjustments, we will do so.
Second: Youth confirmation!
Youth confirmation will gather in the Mission Hall after Sunday worship starting on Sunday, August 29. We’ll meet from roughly 11:30-12:30. We will gather each Sunday until Confirmation Sunday, October 3. Youth Confirmation is open to all young people who are in 8th grade or above for this school year. While indoors, we will wear masks. If we’re able to be outside at all, we’ll take them off. Kevin Hammond, Laura Lozano, and I will be leading our classes.
 The CDC’s update of July 27 added “a recommendation for fully vaccinated people to wear a mask in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high transmission.” https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/fully-vaccinated-guidance.html Hays County fits the criteria for “substantial or high transmission.”
 “Infections happen in only a small proportion of people who are fully vaccinated, even with the Delta variant.” Also, “fully vaccinated people who become infected with the Delta variant can transmit it to others.” https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/fully-vaccinated-guidance.html