A few words on reopening as we see rates of confirmed cases and deaths rise again, and as Gov. Brown mandates masks in all public places statewide. While each county and context is different, I urge us to slow down. Cases in Oregon are again rising. Our Oregon health leaders are reminding us that those with pre-existing conditions, any sign of illness, or are over 60 or 65 should stay home. Masks will be required in all public spaces beginning July 1.
If you and your leadership choose to return to in-person worship, develop a team of detailed planners, use the synod guide and hold your attempts at reengaging lightly. If you resume, call the worship services “experiments” that you will revisit after a month or six weeks, taking a look at the overall experience and number of cases and deaths in the county and state. Are they declining or increasing? Are the sick and elderly listening to your cautioning them to stay home? The last thing we want is to host an outbreak.
You have demonstrated a wide variety of approaches to creating community in this time. Some of you have decided you won’t meet again in person at all through phase I-III, and are worshipping exclusively online, with Facebook Live, YouTube, Zoom or some creative mix of two or three of these. Some of you are planning an in-person gathering (without communion, singing or hugging of course), with masks and distance, in July or August, outdoors on a grassy lawn, some in cars in parking lots, and some of you have decided you will not meet again in person until ALL are able to come in person.
Thank you for letting us in the Bishop’s office know your plans as they unfold, for your safety teams and protocols, and for your care and attention to the health of those you serve. If you haven’t yet communicated with me your reopening plans or your congregational decision not to, please do.
Jesus replied to [the Pharisee]: “‘Love your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-39