I am writing today to share an upcoming change in our congregation’s approach to our COVID-19 safety measures. As you may be aware, the State of Illinois is in the process of removing the state-wide indoor mask mandate, effective Monday, February 28.
At its February 14 meeting, the session voted to change our facility’s onsite policy from face-coverings required to face-coverings optional, beginning Sunday, February 27. Our new approach will be “Masks Optional and Welcome.”
A few comments on this change, and an invitation for you:
We, as a community of Christ, always need to be guided by Jesus’ commandment to love another and his model of caring for the outcast and the vulnerable.
Because of that commitment, as well as our desire to both “submit to governing authorities” in keeping with Romans 13, and to support the health care workers who have been so burdened and taxed during the pandemic, we have, up to this moment in time, continued to ask that individuals wear masks when on campus, regardless of one’s vaccination status.
With the news that the state of Illinois is planning to remove its statewide indoor mask mandate on February 28, the session spent significant time at its February meeting discerning how we can best move forward as a community in this new season.
Individuals within our congregation have varied levels of comfort with exposure to the COVID-19 virus as well as varied levels of vulnerability. Our desire is to be together as a community for worship, fellowship, and mission; and to create the most hospitable, welcoming environment possible when we gather.
This is an instance of managing competing tensions between values we all share. We all want to be free from fettered or incumbered gatherings. And we all want to feel safe and to have others feel safe participating in the life of the congregation.
As we move to an approach of “Masks Optional and Welcome” on the First Pres campus, we will strive to create an environment that is hospitable and secure. If you have concerns about this change in our communal life, we would love to hear from you and explore ways to help make you feel comfortable in your church home. Please reach out to a pastor, staff member, or church elder to share ideas or questions about how we can achieve this goal together.
Looking forward to being with you soon,