The CDC has published new guidelines regarding masks that have impacted The Land.
I have linked many resources in this email including this one: Does everyone need to wear a mask outside? Experts weigh in. (nationalgeographic.com)
There are many questions that surround the CDC’s new guidelines but here is the direction I think we can expect The Land to head over the next few weeks based on the general information below.
(1) A person is considered “fully” vaccinated two weeks after their final dose of the vaccine.
(2) COVID is an airborne virus which means (at The Land specifically) infection is most likely to spread in a face-to-face conversation between persons where one or more person is unvaccinated. The longer the conversation, the higher the risk.
While many people at The Land are fully vaccinated, not everyone is nor will everyone choose to be vaccinated. I know that we are a loving congregation that will respect everyone’s personal decisions while also participating in behaviors that will keep the community safe.
As more and more people are vaccinated, this is the temporary protocol that I believe makes sense for a next step at The Land: asking persons who are unvaccinated to continue to wear masks while inviting vaccinated persons to use their personal discretion in their decision to wear a mask or not wear a mask. Obviously, this is an honor system protocol as we would never require nor request that people disclose information about their health care choices.
As your pastor, my goal is to do my best to ensure that everyone feels safe and supported as we transition into yet another stage of this pandemic. We absolutely do need to continue using caution which means staying socially distanced and/or wearing a mask when we are in conversations. Being outdoors does not mean that transmission of the virus is impossible nor does being fully vaccinated mean that you are not able to be infected.
This is a whole new terrain of gray area that came on quite suddenly, to be honest! Many people are understandably very eager to get these masks off! What I want to do is set a general and temporary precedent so that no one feels caught off guard or thrown into an unsafe situation as more people leave the masks in their car before stepping onto The Land.
While one person may feel just fine not wearing a mask, it is really important to know that there are others who do not feel this way. We want to think of this not only as a safety issue but also as a hospitality issue as we slowly return to a new way of being together.
Please know that I write this email with a great deal of caution and an incredible amount of care. This is my attempt, as your pastor, to find a responsible balance in our faith community. While this is not written in stone, and I do promise things will continue to change, what I did not want to happen was to neglect to have a conversation altogether. I do not want people wondering where we stand or what is going on when it comes to the safety of our community. The pandemic is not over but things are changing and the CDC’s guidelines are reflecting this evolution.
I appreciate so much your grace and, above all else, your love for one another. As nerve-wracking as this is, I am grateful to be at a place where I am tasked with having such a conversation.
With love and hope,