A Word From Our Pastor - April Message
Last year at this time, we had made our way into Lent, the season of preparation that looks forward to Easter and the great promise that day celebrates. We still haven’t found our way out of that more difficult season and into the "New Life" that we hold to be the truth, but we're getting there - cautiously . . . carefully . . . and a bit grumpily.
Bob Hoshibata, the Bishop of our Desert Southwest Conference, wrote a letter this week that holds both expectation and direction for us as we continue this long, challenging period of waiting.
I share it here with all of you, for it gives hints of the new life we seek in and around COVID, as well as guidance as we continue our journey together.
Be strong my friends. Hope continues to sing the beautiful song of new life.
It has been a very difficult year for us all. With the advent of vaccines and an organized protocol for distribution of vaccines that continues to be improved, we feel like we are now on the way out of the uncertainty and the danger that we have endured. There are days when we feel like we are taking tiny steps forward. And yet I write this with caution and concern for your safety because every day there is new information about the challenges of COVID-19.
Recently I was fortunate to receive my second vaccination. What I do not know for sure is whether I am fully protected from COVID-19 as I hope I am. Therefore, although I am dreaming of being with others (especially my children and grandchildren), I will not yet disregard safety measures. Most of all, I wear two masks when in public and I avoid medium- and large-sized in-person gatherings. I realize that the danger of contracting and/or transmitting the virus is not yet past us.
Another concern is that there are striking inequities around the availability of the vaccine. Not all persons are yet eligible to receive it, some cannot medically tolerate the vaccines, while others will choose not to receive it. Access to technology to schedule an appointment and transportation to travel to a vaccine site remain an issue for some. New variants of the virus present new challenges and danger. Transmission of the virus may still be possible even if you have been vaccinated, so in the community at large, and in our churches, we must continue to be vigilant in observing safety precautions even if you, yourself, have completed your vaccine regimen.
While the CDC has issued new recommendations for persons who have been fully vaccinated which relax some restrictions, these guidelines can change with the discovery of new information about COVID-19. For this reason, we must continue to be patient and do our part to protect those among us who are still vulnerable.
I remind us all that the Desert Southwest Conference remains very cautious. For all church in-person gatherings, wear masks even if you have been vaccinated.
This may sound like a broken record, but even if you have completed your vaccine regimen, please continue to:
Take precautions in public like wearing a well-fitted mask and physical distancing
Wear masks, practice physical distancing, and adhere to other prevention measures when visiting with unvaccinated people who are at increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease or who have an unvaccinated household member who is at increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease
Wear masks, maintain physical distance, and practice other prevention measures when visiting with unvaccinated people from multiple households
Avoid medium- and large-sized in-person gatherings
Get tested if experiencing COVID-19 symptoms
Follow guidance issued by individual employers
On behalf of the DSC COVID-19 Response Team, I offer my prayers for your health and safety. I give thanks for the laity and clergy who have been searching for God’s wisdom for all of us as we move cautiously, and hopefully steadfastly toward an end of the pandemic.
Please keep to the guidelines in the DSC Phases Chart, including the maximum allowable numbers, distancing, and refraining from congregational singing. Track the COVID-19 statistics for your area. Our churches are places where COVID-19 can easily spread if we are not diligent. All DSC churches are required to abide by your Comprehensive Re-opening plan.
Coronavirus Update from Bishop Bob Hoshibata