With our return to in-person, indoor worship, we have continued to require the wearing of masks and encourage social distancing. Fortunately, we have not had any outbreaks in Mount Olivet. I know that you are probably growing weary of mask restrictions.
This past week, the Virginia Conference Post-Covid Re-entry Group (PRG) writes the following to shed light on why Mount Olivet has chosen not to ease mask restrictions:
In reviewing the last 18 months and examining the positivity rates among our churches, we are able to identify only one incident of an outbreak in our churches during the period when the Conference laid out clear requirements for churches using the Technical Assistance Manual.
Since allowing local churches to set their own guidelines, we have seen an increased number of exposures among our local churches. In the span of 45 days, we received reports from churches on a daily basis (45 reported cases with more than 75 individuals involved). Churches found positive cases among attendees of a worship or church events who tested positive after their attendance.
These cases demonstrate just how widespread COVID is in our communities. On the bright side, we haven’t had mass transmission occurring at any of our worship or church events. It proves, once more, how a high number of fully vaccinated individuals following proper safety measures including distancing and masks can make a difference.
Therefore, we ask each local Healthy Church Team in the Virginia Conference to communicate the following expectations of following best practices with those worshiping in your church:
- If you are eligible to be vaccinated, we encourage you to get vaccinated.
- For everyone 2 years and older, we encourage you to wear a mask for the protection of others when gathered in an enclosed area.
- If you attend church gatherings and subsequently test positive, we encourage you to share the news so we can control the spread.
We know that leading in these times is extremely difficult, and we are thankful for all that you are doing to make our churches a safe and healthy environment for all people. Thank you. If some members feel more comfortable attending remotely via streaming services, please continue to offer this option. We are all in this together, but most importantly, God goes before us and is leading us forward.
VAUMC PRG Team
Our own Karen McElfish sits on the Virginia Annual Conference PRT. She was recently featured in a video answering questions about the covid vaccine: