Church family,

As we begin a new year, I hope each of us has been able to welcome it with open hearts. May we remain hopeful despite the difficulties we have all endured together over the past two years. May we each also remember the gifts that these two years have brought us—may we cherish the good and acknowledge the grief all together.

I’m sure some of you have been awaiting some acknowledgment of the new days we are facing with the Omicron variant. Like some of you, my breath caught when I saw news of another major variant. We have some reason to be optimistic given Omicron’s uniqueness, but we must also remain diligent and careful.

In response to this new variant, the Re-opening Team, the Council, and Pastor Megan are offering an update to our current Covid-19 re-opening policies:

— As of today 1/5/2021, we will remain worshipping in a hybrid manner. This means our in-person worship service will continue for the time being. We believe our mitigation strategies are strong and serve us well.
— We will be pausing the singing of our closing song for at least 4 weeks to watch the data. While I am sad to make this recommendation, I believe it is the best option for both our congregation and our community.
— We will have KN-95 masks available for those who attend worship in person.
— For any staff or volunteers who have direct exposure, we are asking for a 10-day quarantine and/or a negative test after 7 days. If they test positive, then we ask 10 days or if symptomatic, 10 days after the start of symptoms, if improving.
— Pastor Megan will continue to test over the weekend ahead of preaching.

All of our other safety measures will remain in place.

However, if our area should push above 90% ICU bed usage (with 50% of those being Covid patients), we will return to online-only worship for a set time of 4 Sundays. This would be announced with all expediency. We will continue to live-stream at 9:30am on Sundays, so we can worship together across the distance. If you do not have internet access at home, please talk with Pastor Megan as we have an option for you.

Church family, it is our goal to remain open for hybrid worship, but should that goal interfere with our Methodist value of “do no harm,” we will always prioritize the health and well-being of all of you and our neighbors. Given the blazing speed with which Omicron is transmitted, the situation may require rapid changes in course. Thank you for your faithful patience as we navigate these strange new tides together.

Yours in Christ,
Pastor Megan Madsen