Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates

 
Your physical and spiritual health are important to Epiphany Lutheran Church. We’re using this page to share status updates about Epiphany’s response to the situation. 
 

A Word About COVID

As of June 29, 2022, masks are optional indoors at Epiphany’s campuses. Please see Pastor Julie’s message below.

Some have asked me to give a little explanation about my recommendation to wear masks indoors two and a half weeks ago. I understand COVID to be a chronic illness, in that we can expect flare ups of infections to occur for the foreseeable future. This means we have to learn to live with COVID and to carry on in the safest way possible. Fortunately, as of last week, we now have vaccination available to all age groups; in addition, despite the recent high transmission rate of the disease, hospitalizations and deaths have continued to be low in Montgomery County. We are not in the same place from a public health perspective that we were in 2020.

I also understand our Christian responsibility to love our neighbor as ourselves. This means we take into consideration the needs of others when we make personal decisions and church policy. When we had a number of infections three weeks ago among our staff and our VBS volunteers, and our ability to carry out functions of ministry in was temporarily threatened. I honestly did not know if we could keep the office open or staff VBS. I felt it was important to limit the spread of the disease, as families and businesses could be affected in a similar manner. This is why I recommended wearing masks indoors at church.

Each congregation’s culture is different, and what I am learning is that mask wearing is a deal breaker for some in our community. That doesn’t mean people are being selfish or wrongheaded; it just means that some will sit out instead of coming to church because mask wearing for them is really an imposition. As a new pastor in this community, loving my neighbor means not only protecting the vulnerable; it also means getting to know all the community. It is clear to me whatever recommendations or policies the Council and I make, that they need to support people’s participation. 

For these reasons, I am recommending that masks be optional at Epiphany’s campuses. I continue to encourage people to social distance when indoors as a precaution, given that people are infectious prior to exhibiting symptoms. I will continue to ask all communion assistants to mask while they are serving, as this offers a layer of protection for those coming into close proximity to receive. For those who have health concerns, I encourage lowering your mask and consuming the communion elements in the pew when worshipping indoors. We will pray for continued good weather, so we can enjoy worshipping together outdoors. Coffee after worship will resume next Sunday, July 3. 

Going forward I will keep COVID recommendations simple, and follow the overall Covid-19 Community Level ratings from the CDC. If the Community Level is High, we will recommend people wear masks indoors. Otherwise, masks will be optional. Under these guidelines, an outbreak like the one that happened three weeks ago at Epiphany would NOT alter the mask optional recommendation. 

I want to say thank you to those who came to me with questions and feedback about this and other matters; alongside the Council, your thinking and prayer help inform my decisions.

– Pastor Julie