New Protocols for Fourth Wave of COVID-19
Dear Old South Church:
Can you sing this to yourself? The tune is LEONI:
Earthly shock indeed. We are in the midst of the fourth wave of the Novel Coronavirus. Medical professionals lament “prognosis fatigue” as the virus shapeshifts from one variant to another, insinuating itself among us in yet more terrifying and virulent ways. Its ever changing mutations, its ebbs and flows, are exhausting to keep track of, frustrating, and confounding.
As there is yet no vaccine for children under age twelve, they are our most pressing concern. Children are contracting the Delta variant and it is frightening. At the same time, we acknowledge real mental and physical health concerns as the virus continues to impact the lives of the most vulnerable, keeping too many people isolated, causing loneliness, depression, cognitive decline, and physical debility.
In the face of this malevolent, ever-evolving virus, Old South Church will do what we know how to do: pivot and adjust in order to mitigate risk. This earthly shock, wearying and frightening as it is, is no match for the resources of our Christian faith. Witnessing to God’s love is what we do. We’ve got this, Old South Church!
Our Covid 19 Blue Ribbon Task Force met on the evening of August 10th to discuss the current situation and agree to new protocols. Led by church moderator Phil Stern, and informed by Old South medical professionals, please find below the new guidance of the Task Force for the immediate future. These protocols are intended to mitigate risk and prevent the continued spread of the virus, while enabling some forms of gathering and social interaction. The protocols are not forever. They are for now. We will get through this … just not yet. As the situation is ever-evolving, so will be our response.
Effective immediately and until further notice, the church requires universal masking. In order to enter the building, all must be masked. Vaccinated or unvaccinated, all must mask.
Our Sunday Watch Parties (through Labor Day) will be relocated to Mary Norton Hall (MNH) to allow for social distancing. MNH is air-conditioned with great ventilation. Bonus: check out the new MNH curtains installed during the pandemic!
Our September programming plans have likewise been altered.
Beginning on September 12, we will hold a single Sunday service: All-Church Worship at 10am. It will be held in-person, in the Sanctuary (masked, socially distanced), and live-streamed for all who choose to join us remotely.
There will be no in-person, on-site church school for children younger than 12 on Sundays. We will continue to offer robust, interactive, remote programming. In addition, Kate Nintcheu and the families of our church are gathering next week to discuss creative, outdoors opportunities for children and family ministries to supplement our online offerings.
Beginning on September 9th, our Thursday evening, 6pm Jazz Worship will be held live, in person, in the Sanctuary and live-streamed for all who choose to join us remotely. (We will say goodbye to our Virtual Jazz Coffee Houses, but tune in for Jazz Worship at the same time and place.)
Ensemble singers and musicians, professional and volunteer, must be vaccinated and masked, and will socially distance.
For the time being, we will forgo refreshments and in person communion.
If you are eligible, but have not yet been vaccinated (or fully vaccinated) against the Novel Coronavirus, we implore you to do so as soon as possible. Vaccination is the best defense against the virus’s mutations. Vaccinate for the sake of the children, and to smother the virus, denying it purchase. Vaccinate as an act of love for neighbor. We are in this together. Together, we can get out of it.
And, make sure ALSO to get vaccinated against the flu as soon as that vaccine is available.
If you do not feel well, stay home; in any case, don’t come to church. Should you need assistance, reach out to email@example.com.
Old South Church staff are 100% fully vaccinated. Every effort is being made to give individual members of staff opportunity, depending on their circumstances and vulnerability, to mitigate risk to themselves and their families in the performance of their responsibilities.
We are in the midst of installing IT equipment (cameras, mics, and software) to much improve your experience for all who continue to worship with us remotely. The equipment is being installed in the Sanctuary, Chapel, and Mary Norton Hall. Two part-time specialists have been hired, starting in September, to assist Jamie Garuti as Livestream Production Assistants. The extraordinary technologies of 2021 truly enable to us to be distant, yet gathered; remote, yet assembled. Our Capital Campaign of some years ago, and the endowed fund, Open Door Productions, are saving the day!
BOARD, COMMITTEE, TASK FORCES, SMALL GROUPS
As we indicated some months ago, each group is free to make its own decisions about whether to meet in person or remotely. That remains the case. What has changed: until further notice, if an OSC group gathers to meet in person, all will need to mask and social distance.
The hymn with which I began, continues:
This I believe with all my heart.