As we have said from the beginning of this difficult experience we are going through as a community, nation, and world, there are times when we will take steps forward and then have to step back again as we navigate this global pandemic that we are in. In this time when cases of COVID-19 are on the rise again and dangerous variants of the virus, like the Delta variant, are becoming more widespread; we as people of faith must determine what we will do to answer our call to protect the most vulnerable among us and care for one another in the love of Christ.
On August 11th the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gave Dubuque county a "high" designation for the level of community transmission of the COVID-19 virus. This is the highest of the four levels of the transmission rate. In response to this "the Dubuque County Public Health Incident Management team encourages all residents, regardless of their vaccination status, to follow these guidelines to reduce their risk of becoming infected with the Delta variant and potentially spreading it to others:
· Wear a mask in all public indoor settings.
· Get tested if experiencing COVID-19 symptoms (https://dubuquecounty.org/565/Local-COVID-19-Testing-Options).
· Isolate if you have tested positive for COVID-19 in the prior 10 days or are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
· Get tested 3-5 days after exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 and wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days after exposure or until you receive a negative test result."*
*Please refer to https://www.cityofdubuque.org/1649/Coronavirus-COVID-19-Pandemic for details on this information.
Yesterday, the church council held a special vote to determine what to do with this news. Council voted that we return to masking for all indoor activities, including worship for this time until levels of transmission decrease again. All who enter the church building, no matter your vaccination status, are strongly recommended to mask once again for the health and safety of us all. All in-person activities will continue to take place with online options for those that are set up for it. This does not mean we are stopping gathering in-person for worship or any other ministry or outside the group. Worship will only alter a bit with a return to communion taken in the pews, but we are inviting people to come forward masked to receive the prepackaged elements and return to their pews to partake in the sacrament. No pews will be closed and singing can continue while masked. We are so deeply grateful for everyone's understanding, patience, and commitment to the life of our community of faith and love for our neighbors.
We all grieve that we are in this place once again, but for this time we encouraging everyone to do their part in fighting back against this virus so that we can get back to a safe place once again. We are one body in Christ, called to love and care for each other in times that are difficult as well as in the joyful ones. As we heard in worship just a few short weeks ago from Ephesians 4 we are called to: "lead a life worthy of the calling to which we have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." May we live into this calling to love and care for one another in every way possible. Let us stay united in our one hope that in Christ we can face anything that comes our way together and by the grace of God always.
Pastors Karla Wildberger & Derek Rosenstiel