After careful deliberation last night, the session unanimously decided to postpone in-person worship to a later date. Therefore, there will not be having in-person worship this Sunday. We will continue to meet virtually by live-streaming the worship service through our website and Facebook.
Some of you will be relieved to hear this news. Others will be frustrated. I understand both of those feelings. These sorts of decisions are incredibly challenging.
Safety is the principal reason why we are postponing in-person worship. When the session met on June 15 the COVID cases in Lincoln County were very low. At that time, we believed we could meet in a socially distant and safe way. As the graph below indicates, the COVID-19 cases have spiked in Lincoln County since mid-June. As of today Lincoln County has had 562 cases and 2 deaths. The trends are heading in the wrong direction.
Just one county over, where many of our congregation members work, shop, and run errands, the case numbers are the highest in the state. We don’t want to create a similar scenario in Lincoln County.
Unity’s staff has created an in-depth plan for reopening that includes creative options for social distancing. However, we will not implement this plan until it is safe to do so.
As your pastor, I would personally like to see the amount of new cases decrease significantly before reopening because this will indicate a smaller presence of community transmission.
To accomplish this, we all need to do our part. The most effective way to reduce virus transmission is by wearing a mask in public and social distancing by at least 6 feet from people outside your household. Health authorities also recommend not having group gatherings.
For some, wearing a mask has become political. It should not be. Wearing a mask is one of the most effective tools we have of reducing virus transmission.
Please do your part. Wearing a mask is not about protecting yourself from the virus; it is about protecting others from the virus. In doing this, we fulfill what Paul wrote to the Corinthians:
“Do not seek your own good, but seek the good of your neighbor.”
1 Corinthians 10:24
I know that we all want this to be over. I desperately want life to get back to normal again. I want to once again be physically present with the wonderful people of Unity. When we shut down in March, I anticipated that we would do so for 2 weeks. At the very most, I thought it could last a couple of months. Never did I imagine writing to you at the end of July with this virus more prevalent than ever.
This pandemic is forcing us to constantly readjust our expectations. For a while, we thought that virus transmission would lessen in the summer before reigniting in a second wave in the fall. It has now become clear that instead of lessening, it has increased throughout the summer. The virus will continue to increase until we all do our part to lessen its transmission.
We can do this together. We may be tired of all of the changed plans and isolation, but we can be resilient and strong through Christ. Let’s continue to make sacrifices to lower our community’s case numbers so we can once again worship together in-person. When you find yourself tired, angry or confused, remember that you have a God who wants to be with you during these times. Go to God for your strength. We can do all things through Christ.
This Sunday, Pastor Dana will preach the final sermon of our summer series on relationships.
“See” you on Sunday!