Along with all the other "excitement" in our nation, the coronavirus is certainly making life challenging. Not least because it can be difficult to navigate different comfort levels, medical concerns, and ways of assessing risk. Some of us feel comfortable attending an outdoor worship service, and some of us do not. Some of us are eating outside at restaurants, and some of us are not. Some of us are wearing masks when we go for a walk in the cemetery, and some of us are not. It can be uncomfortable to encounter someone whose behavior is "more risky" than our own!
Just today, I picked up my daughter from an orthodontist appointment, and one of the staff came out to my car. She came right up to my window, speaking directly at me, just a couple feet away. And her mask was slipping off her nose! My internal dialogue started up: Is she going to fix that? Should I say something? It doesn't matter; we're outside. But she's so close to me! How long is she going to talk? It's fine; it's covering her mouth. But she works in an orthodontist office! - why aren't they wearing masks properly?! Should I put on my mask? -- and so on.
This was a very small incident, but I was uncomfortable. And I don't want anyone to feel this way at church. It should not be YOUR responsibility to ensure that guidelines are followed. No one should ever have to say, "Please put on a mask because..." I don't want anyone to stay away from an in-person church event because they are concerned about needing to confront others or to justify their caution.
That is why we are developing protocols for all in-person events. That is why we will ALWAYS wear masks and stay 6 feet from one another when gathering. Even though we might go without masks when outside with friends or family, when we gather as the church it is different. When we gather as West Parish we need to look out for ALL of us, with our many medical needs and concerns, with our differing comfort levels. We need to operate at a more careful and consistent level, because we are looking out for each one of us, especially the most vulnerable.
We will be sharing our protocols for worship soon, but for now, thanks to all of you who have been caring for one another, looking out for one another and praying for one another from afar. We also look forward to caring for one another in person, as we are able!
Blessings, and hope, Good People!